Many of us are experiencing some level of shock right now. After all, pandemics don’t happen everyday! My suggestion—breathe deep and slow down. As a former family counselor, I’ve witnessed shock, up close and personal; but you don’t have to be a professional to recognize it. We’ve all been there to some degree.

When trauma happens, the ability to process information slows down. You may be experiencing that now. I admit—I’m there! Today I found myself holding my phone and couldn’t remember why I picked it up. I have friends and family members who are feeling disoriented, overwhelmed, and fearful. Some are feeling nothing—their emotions have shut down with self-protective denial. If you’re having any of these feelings, my suggestion—be kind to yourself. Make time and space to think things through. For me, that translates to sitting by the river, or ocean—thinking and praying. For you, it may mean sitting on your porch watching the birds soar and sing, oblivious to human worries. We’re all wired differently, but many of us could do with a little less adrenaline right now. With that in mind, I’ve made a practical list of ways to cope with a changing world.

Ten ideas to combat pandemic shock:

1. Try not to make sudden, knee-jerk decisions—they may not be good ones. Take the time to make well-informed decisions.
2. Consider a think-tank meeting with wise friends and family members to come up with Plan A, B, or even C—a plan to make life as secure and comfortable as possible. Priority purchasing and sharing resources may be at the top of your discussion list.
3. Accept that some of the old plans may have to be put on hold while the new ones are underway. As fall-out from this pandemic continues to change, we’ll have to change with it. And hopefully the changes, in the long run, will produce new and better versions of ourselves.
4. Don’t kick yourself with—I should’ve done this, or I should’ve done that—no one could’ve seen this pandemic coming!
5. Consider doing some things you haven’t had time for, until now: Reconnect with old friends; work-on strained or broken relationships; finish projects you haven’t had time for; organize closets, drawers and garages; start a new hobby. (Learn to paint, dance, operate a ham-radio, or enhance your computer skills.)
6. Watch movies that make you laugh. Play board games with your family. Do some wild and crazy things that lets your inner child out. (Last week my three-year-old grandchild and I did some evening dancing on the deserted streets of Disney).
7. Get on a work-out program and become super buff!
8. Outdoor activities: Fishing, swimming, boating, backyard sports, picnics. For the Handy Andys–try building a tree-house or chicken coupe for the kiddos.
9. Enhance your work skills with online classes or tutorials
10. This one I can’t resist. As a writer and author, I say, READ, read, and read more. Try some of the great classics like Les Misérables, A Tale of Two Cities, Jane Eyre. Or, download some current books just begging to be read. I’ve never seen so many great books released all at once. (My own book, Dark Motives is set for a May release) And don’t forget that Bible in your dusty bottom drawer!

This crisis will pass, but It’s time to face it—major change has come—for some more than others. My family has already felt our world tilt a little. We’ve taken a financial hit and our jobs have taken a beating. We’re also facing the possibility of having to move from our current residence. But I know this—God is not ignorant of this pandemic. He knows the beginning from the end. I chose to trust He has a plan—a plan much bigger than mine could ever be.

On the bright side, quarantining in times past meant great isolation and loneliness, but today, we have phones, texts, and online social communities to buoy each other up. Most importantly, we have a God that loves us. I’ll keep you all in my prayers!