These days, we're all anxious, and we're all at home. It's a tough combination, because while social distancing is obviously the right thing to do, our instinct in tough times is to connect more deeply with other people.
My sister Elizabeth and I were talking about this conundrum (these days, we talk several times each day). Together, we host the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, where we talk about solutions and tips for making our lives happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. Obviously this issue is uppermost in everyone's minds now! How can we be as happy and as calm as we can be, under these circumstances?
We decided to create a place where our listeners and readers could "gather" for a respite of conversation, ideas for the challenges we're all facing, and a sense of connection. It's immensely reassuring to see that we're all going through this together, and we can help each other.
So Monday-Friday, at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT (unless we have to move it because of a scheduling conflict?!), Elizabeth and I are leading a Coping with COVID-19 Conversation on Instagram Live.
It's still taking shape, as we learn what everybody wants from this conversation.
So far, we've realized that people want accountability for various aims they've set for themselves, so we have an Accountability Check-In each day. Obligers, take note!
We've started issuing a Daily Challenge, where we suggest one thing you could do that day to take advantage of this time. For instance, yesterday's challenge was, "If there's an app that you've been meaning to download and activate, and you've been putting that off, do it before the next conversation." I finally set up a Venmo account.
So many listeners wanted a virtual book club that we decided to start one via these Instagram Live conversations. Our first choice was Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman.
In truth, this book is a bit of an odd choice—it's illustrated, so there's no audio version, and it's super-short, so it's not an immersive distraction from the challenges of the day, but when I read it many years ago, I found it intriguing. Given that so many people want to keep a journal or diary of this extraordinary period of history, we thought it would be interesting to discuss this unusual approach to a memoir. She writes the story of her life, in outfits.
These days, we're all worried about the fate of small businesses. If you order the book, this is a great opportunity to order from your favorite local indie bookstore. Many are closed for business but will deliver or have a book ready for pick up.
If you don't have a local indie, here are two suggestions:
- One of my favorite New York City indies is McNally Jackson.
- Elizabeth and I love Rainy Day Books, the beloved indie for our hometown of Kansas City, where we've shopped our whole lives.
If there's a book that you think would make for a great discussion, let me know. In the future, we'll make sure that it's available in e-book and audio-book form as well as print. I forgot to check before we chose it.
Other ideas that we've discussed in our "Coping with COVID-19 Conversations" so far?
- Suggestions for exercise videos for children (I'm going to write a blog post about that, so add any recommendations in the comments here) and suggestions for history documentaries for the whole family—I'm looking for the Planet Earth for history
- Whether people are doing a "19 for COVID-19."
- Whether people are keeping a journal—Elizabeth and I discussed keeping a journal in the Happier podcast bonus episode: "Coping During COVID-19—How to Stay Happier and Calmer in Difficult Times."
- Whether people are creating a "three-tiered plan for projects"
- Whether people are having trouble sleeping or having intense dreams (Yes)
- Whether people are keeping up with #Walk20in20
- What apps, tools, and habits people are using to stay connected to other people
Share in the comments on this post or in the comments on our on Instagram Live any topics, tips, or suggestions you want to share. To join the Instagram Live, go to my profile on the Instagram app and at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT click on my profile image which will have a small "live" button on it. Click here for more detailed instructions about how to watch an Instagram Live.
One comforting aspect of these conversations is that as we kick it off each day, people comment about where they are in the world. Elizabeth is in Encino, CA I'm in New York City, and it makes me happy to see people joining from Australia, Italy, Thailand, South Korea, Ottowa, Santa Monica, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Honolulu...the whole world is bound together by our wish to get through this period as best we can.
At the end of each episode of the Happier podcast, I sign off by saying, "Onward and upward." The tag line for these conversations is "Let's keep our hands clean and our minds clear."
If you'd like to join the Coping with COVID-19 conversations, follow me on Instagram @gretchenrubin.
Hang in there. Let's reach out with love—from a distance of six feet.
Want to check out the other resources I've created for coping during COVID-19? Click here.
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