Whether or not COVID-19 will become a problem in the Americas remains to be seen. So far so good? But look, it’s almost Lent, and anyhow there is almost nothing you can personally do to prevent a pandemic or cause it to be more or less dangerous to yourself. But almost-nothing isn’t nothing-nothing. Here’s a short list of cheap, simple things that might make your life less bad in the face of a mortal threat, and will probably make your life better regardless.
# 1 Get Your Affairs in Order
It’s tax time anyway, right? It won’t hurt you to organize your papers, see if your will needs to be updated, hunt down your logins and stick the updated list in the fire safe, etc etc. Possibly throw out that stack of old catalogs and the wadded up paper towels you shoved in your purse just-in-case. In the event you get in a car crash next week and your kids need to transfer money to their bank account to pay for groceries while you are laying in the hospital arguing with the cell phone company over your phone that got smashed to bits in the accident, everyone will be glad.
#2 Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables
And lay off the soda. With the flu, colds, stomach viruses, and presidential primaries going around, you want to be as healthy as possible. In season in the northern hemisphere at the moment: Root vegetables, winter squashes, cabbages . . . maybe not your favorites, but they are comparatively affordable, nutritious, and the internet is available to help you learn how to cook them into something not-disgusting.
If you are gearing up for Orthodox Great Lent (as I am not, who are we kidding, but some of my friends will be), check out “How to Eat Well During Orthodox Lent” by Chris Masterjohn. Just because certain Girl Scout cookies are Great-Lent-Compliant doesn’t mean you should build your diet around them. As I might. This is why we lazy-Latins are so grateful for the other lung of the Church where the fasting and praying gets done for serious. Thank you.
#3 Taper Off the Drinking
Your liver thanks you.
#4 Get Your Blood Sugar Down
Hey, look, fasting! Coming Soon to a Church Near You! If you have Type 2 Diabetes, or a predisposition to it, fasting with appropriate medical supervision can get your metabolic health in order long before any significant weight loss occurs. Which in turn improves your ability to fight off all kinds of illnesses and generally makes your blood vessels much, much happier. You can give yourself the gift of healthier blood vessels any time of year, you don’t need to wait for a pandemic to come around.
Exercise will not solve all your problems. The amount you can do is limited by the reality of your life. But doing the amount that you can, in the way that you can, makes your life better. Ignore the haters. You can be fat, sick, exhausted, depressed, disorganized, unfashionable . . . and still benefit from exercising the amount that your life allows. Do that amount. If it’s too much, back off and try again.
And since you might end up in quarantine, and that might make you go absolutely bonkers, go ahead and figure out now what you can do for exercise and leisure in the confines of your home to maintain your mental health and your friendships with your housemates. Not a lot of things we can control about the spread of new viruses, but this we can prep just in case.
And finally but foremost, brought to you by a person who needs to hear this . . .
Go to confession! For goodness sake you shouldn’t need a deadly threat to clean up that crusty ol’ soul of yours. But some of us are regrettably slack in this area, and if we won’t listen to reason, then we’ll just have to panic our way into holiness. You could do worse.
Photo: Open confessional, by Jean-Paul Corlin, via Wikimedia, CC 4.0.