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The coronavirus pandemic is making everyone crazy. Anxiety is through the roof. Depression is ramping up. Access to treating professionals is limited, just as access to everything is becoming increasingly limited.

The COVID 19 pandemic is the right time for those of us who are skilled at dragging ourselves through difficult days, weeks, and months to help others with our hard-earned wisdom. For me and for many, an important way to keep steady is to make lists and check off what I’ve done.

In the most difficult times, the lists I make would include things that are, in other times, basic habits: Shower, dress, pack lunch. That’s why the “Isolation Wellbeing Daily To-Do List” for the COVID 19 pandemic that I saw this morning was so striking. It’s circulating on Facebook among people I’d normally consider to be healthy. But looks like a short version of the list I would make for myself on a not-so-good day.

As these play out for me …

  • Meal preparation is an “Essential task,” although since it gives me joy, I undoubtedly invest more time and effort than many.
  • The dirty dishes are the “one thing” I am pretty regularly committed to cleaning.
  • “Dance” on my list is a way to “be mindfully present to a song” (I think!) as well as a way to “get your heart rate up.”
  • My morning hour at my desk as a writer is “one thing you’ll be glad you did later.”

I also find myself thinking about Abigail Van Buren’s list of resolutions for today, modified from Al-Anon‘s lifestyle guidance and excerpted here:

“JUST FOR TODAY: I will live through THIS DAY ONLY. … I know that I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

“JUST FOR TODAY: I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. …

“JUST FOR TODAY: I will accept what is. …

“JUST FOR TODAY: I will improve my mind. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration. …

“JUST FOR TODAY: I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. …

JUST FOR TODAY: I will do something positive to improve my health. … even if it’s just to walk around the block.

“JUST FOR TODAY: I will gather the courage to do what is right. …

Lists help people in times of difficulty. People struggling with a family member’s substance abuse can lean on a list to stay focused. People who live with anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges create lists to pull ourselves through dark days.

In ordinary days, habits and routines can carry us. But in times of difficulty, like this pandemic, making lists can help.

What’s on your “to do” list that’s keeping you going? Share your tips with others! This is the time when those of us who live with challenges regularly can help others succeed.