When Life Gives you Lemons (aka COVID-19)...

When Life Gives you Lemons (aka COVID-19)... make lemonade.
Most of us have heard this optimistic statement before. But now might be the time to put it into practice. If life has ever given us lemons, this is it.
We're living in an unprecedented time. A global crisis is causing us to hit pause on our lives. Things are changing quicker than we can keep up. No one knows what to expect and most people are afraid.
But you're not alone.
At the Iowa Victim Service Call Center, we are dedicated to serving you. We aren't closing our lines, and we will continue to serve survivors.
We believe in hope.
We believe life does not have to stop because of terrible events.
We believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
We can find a silver lining to this COVID-19 crisis.
Is it terrible? Yes.
Are people dying? Unfortunately, yes.
But do you need more bad news about it? We don't think so.
So what can you do to make the most of this terrible situation?

1. Stay Safe
2. Connect with Others
3. Slow Down

1. Stay Safe
You've probably read the CDC's recommendations about how to slow the spread of the virus. It's likely that you are washing your hands more than ever before. You've probably changed travel plans and stopped going out as much. Great- keep it up.
But in times like these, you have to think of your mental health too. Living in a constant state of panic has serious health consequences.
So take care of your mind. If watching the news makes you feel stressed, stop. If scrolling through Facebook and seeing endless COVID-19 posts makes you overwhelmed, quit.
Once you start avoiding negative input, start looking for some positives. Do something you love- listen to your favorite song, paint, read, dance, cook, do yoga. Meditate or do something like it to get your mind to slow down. Understand that it's going to be hard for a while.
Learn to accept both the positive and negative emotions you feel. It's part of being human, and they make you who you are. If you're able, see a counselor. Processing the fears, frustrations, or sadness you're feeling during this time is so important.
But even with the best self-care, we still need other people. We were made for relationships and we crave connection.

2. Connect with Others
In a world of social media and the internet, we are more "connected" than ever before. We can talk to someone halfway across the world as easily as we can talk to our neighbors. Our Instagram posts are instantly (pun intended) viewed by hundreds, if not thousands of people.
But we often still feel isolated.
In an ocean of online profiles, we're lost. We have a thousand friends on Facebook and no genuine conversations. We send hundreds of snaps but are seen by no one. At our fingertips, we have access to any information we want but we feel unsatisfied. We want to know someone and to be known in return.
The truth is: social media can't replace face to face conversations. All the emojis in the world can't replace the emotion in someone's voice. No amount of Twitter followers can make you feel truly known.
In this time of social distancing, we're tempted to turn to these things to make us feel connected. But it won't work.
So what do we do? We put down our phones and choose to engage with those around us. If you're stuck at home right now with family, talk to them! Ask questions. Listen. Have everyone put their phones away during dinner or play a game together. Make the most of this newfound time you have with the people around you.*
It's only been two weeks since the social distancing started in my area. But already, I've spent way more time with the people I love. I've visited family members. I've stayed around the dinner table longer, suddenly not having anywhere to rush off to.
Now I understand that's not possible for everyone. If you're living alone or are quarantined, make use of technology as it was intended: to bring people together! With today's tech advancements, you can video chat with someone anywhere in the world. My friend in Brazil called me the other day through Facebook Messenger. I talked to several coworkers through a Zoom Call yesterday. We are not helpless. Isolation is not the only option.
Is it harder to spend time with friends? Absolutely.
Do I miss seeing my coworkers? More than you know.
But are there things we can do to make the most of this crisis? Definitely.

3. Slow Down.
If there's one blessing this virus is bringing to our society, it's rest. We live in a go-go-go society obsessed with production. But sometimes, we need to step back and take a breath.
I talked with a survivor the other day who said he wanted to simply breathe. He didn't know what it would be like to pause and live in the moment, instead of watching his life fly by.
It's hard to do that when we have so many things demanding our attention. But now we have some time to pause. To check our lives and see if we're living how we'd like to. We can heal from trauma if we give ourselves the time to. We can learn to embrace others, forgive, love, and live fully.
What if all the precautions we take because of this virus slow us down enough to really see people? To really feel? What if we're able to have more meaningful conversations with the people we love? And what if we become more like the people we want to be? What if this crisis teaches us something we wouldn't have learned otherwise?
The coronavirus is here whether we like it or not. Social distancing is happening; we have no choice about that. But we do have a choice on how we respond. We can choose to view it as an inconvenience. We can be fearful and miserable. Or we can embrace it as a chance to do all the things we usually skip over. We can be hopeful and view this as the opportunity it is.
If you're struggling with anxiety during this time, give us a call. If you are fearful because of increased exposure to abuse, we want to help. Call 1.800.770.1650 or text 'IOWAHELP' to 20121.
*If your home is an unsafe place, please give us a call or text at the above numbers. We can help get you the services you need.