Sunday, April 26, 2020

How to Deal with the Coronavirus Pandemic


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is rocking the world. Many countries and almost all US states have lockdowns or “shelter in place” orders. In Illinois, we have a “stay at home” order through the end of May. In Chicago, the Lakefront Trail and all adjacent parks (e.g. Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, Lake Shore Park), beaches, and paths are closed. Nationally, the US has over 900,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 53,000 deaths (a 5.7% death rate). Overall, this nation is facing serious adversity in many respects.

However, it is important to maintain perspective: the situation could always be worse. In particular, we are not engaging in direct, violent combat against a hostile, human force. We are not storming Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, as Nazis are mowing us down with machine guns. We are not defending the pass of Thermopylae, Greece, and fighting until the death against millions of Persians invading our homeland. We are not conducting special operations combat missions. Unlike Marcus Luttrell in Lone Survivor, we do not have many Taliban fighters hunting us down on an Afghanistan mountain after they have killed the rest of our teammates.

Instead, we are dealing with a global pandemic that involves a highly contagious virus that, in the US, has a roughly 6% death rate. However, again, the situation could be much worse. This is not the bubonic plague, which has a death rate of 30-90% without treatment and a death rate of 10% with treatment. This is not the Black Death (a.k.a. the Great Bubonic Plague) from the mid-1300s CE, which killed 75-200 million in Eurasia and 30-60% of Europe’s population. This is not the Ebola virus disease, which has an average death rate of 50%. So, yes, we should take the coronavirus very seriously, practice social distancing, quarantine at home, etc. but we should not think that this pandemic will play out like the Black Death and wipe out one-half or one-quarter of the US population. In particular, we should not live in a constant, heightened state of fear, terror, and anxiety, although we should follow all the necessary precautions.


In order to protect yourself from the coronavirus, follow these guidelines, which conform to the CDC guidelines:

• Stay at home as much as possible. Avoid going outside unless you’re shopping for groceries, picking up prescriptions or supplies, going for a walk or run, walking your pet, etc.

• When you go outside, practice social distancing. Stay at least six feet away from other people. It’s okay to maintain a distance of 10 feet or more. Avoid crowds.

• When you go outside, wear a cloth, surgical, or N95 face mask. This will help you protect yourself from others in case they have COVID-19 (asymptomatically or symptomatically), and it will help protect others from yourself in case you have COVID-19 (asymptomatically or symptomatically). In addition, wearing a mask will help prevent you from touching your face.

• When you go outside, NEVER, EVER touch your face. According to this New York City ICU doctor who treats COVID-19 patients all day, people get the virus predominantly when they touch a contaminated surface (e.g. elevator buttons or public door handles), get the virus on their hands, and then touch their face. The virus then enters through their eyes, nose, or mouth and infects them.

• In general, whether inside or outside, constantly watch your hands. Be a hand Nazi. Avoid touching your face.

• After you have touched any public surface (e.g. elevator buttons or door handles), wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer.

• After you have touched any public surface, DO NOT touch your face whatsoever until you have washed or sanitized your hands.

• Whenever you leave your home (e.g. to shop for groceries, walk your pet, take out the garbage, pick up a package delivered outside), immediately wash your hands upon returning.

• Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray to clean high-touch surfaces (e.g. light switches, door handles, faucet handles, refrigerator handles, microwave handles, oven handles, dishwasher handles, counters, smartphones, tablets, etc.) daily or 2-3 times weekly. You should do it daily if you’re symptomatic or otherwise sick.

• Cough or sneeze into your elbow crook or a tissue, which you should then throw away.

• If you have any coronavirus symptoms (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of smell), see the CDC guidelines.

So diligently follow these guidelines, hunker down, and be EXTREMELY patient with respect to this pandemic. The coronavirus is very patient, much more patient than we humans tend to be. In response, we need to be EXTREMELY patient, diligent, and thorough in terms of social distancing, wearing masks in public, washing hands, using hand sanitizer, coughing or sneezing into our elbow crooks, not touching our faces, quarantining ourselves when appropriate, and so on. Overall, this pandemic is a marathon or ultra-marathon, not a sprint. And we need to take it one step, one quarter-mile, one mile, one evolution, one training session, one day at a time.

In order to pace ourselves through this marathon, we need things to do during this pandemic.


1. Meditate once or twice daily for 10-20 minutes. If you have never meditated, start now: do 10 minutes once daily. Daily meditation will not only help relieve stress and anxiety (which are currently surging due to the pandemic) but also increase your focus, discipline, awareness, presence, and mindfulness. Here are zazen instructions.

2. Exercise 4-6 days per week. Exercise is critical for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Exercise should consist of (1) resistance workouts and (2) cardio.

  • Do resistance workouts at home 2-3 days per week on non-consecutive days
    • If you have adjustable dumbbells (DBs), do DB resistance workouts: DB bench press, DB press, DB push press, DB bent-over row, DB front squat, DB lunge, DB deadlift, etc.

    • If you lack DBs or just prefer calisthenics, you can do bodyweight resistance workouts: push-ups, pull-ups/chin-ups, air squats, lunges, sit-ups, crunches, planks, burpees, etc. If you have an adjustable weighted vest and can handle it, do bodyweight resistance workouts with the weighted vest. But do not start too heavy with the weighted vest. Start with roughly 10% of your bodyweight (e.g. 10% of 200lb is 20lb). You can increase the weight on the vest gradually and progressively over time.

    • If you would like me to program DB or bodyweight workouts customized for you, sign up for monthly programming. Or you can purchase the NO-MIND FITNESS Bodyweight Training Plan or the Novice Bodyweight Training Plan.

  • Do cardio 2-3 days per week on non-consecutive days. Here are some cardio options:
    • Run outside
    • Walk or hike outside (without weight)
    • Ruck outside (i.e. hike with a rucksack or weighted vest)
    • Jump-rope indoors
    • Do jumping jacks indoors
    • Do martial arts shadow-boxing indoors. This does not require gloves, a punching bag, sparring partner, etc. But ease into it the first few times you do it.

3. DO NOT watch any television news: CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC, local news, etc.

  • The television mainstream media are trying to spread massive fear, terror, and anxiety by means of emotional contagion. They are doing this partly because they want to maximize their ratings and advertising revenue. After all, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Or in this case: “If it is killing tens of thousands of Americans, it leads and dominates all coverage.”
  • Instead of watching television news, choose your favorite mainstream news website and spend 10-20 minutes daily reading the most important articles. You need to stay generally informed about the pandemic but do not constantly read about it. Moderation is critical.
  • However, if you insist on watching television news, watch only one mainstream news program daily for 30-60 minutes. Once the program ends, do not watch anymore. Practice moderation.

4. Read books, especially long ones (400+ pages). If you cannot handle long books, read short books (200 or fewer pages). In particular, if you want to improve your mental toughness during this pandemic, I recommend reading the following books or articles:

5. Maintain good hygiene. Do not let yourself go to crap. Shower daily. Shave as often as you usually do (e.g. daily, twice weekly, weekly). Trim your fingernails and toenails regularly. If you’re a female who really wants a manicure or pedicure, then give yourself one at home, even if it’s not as relaxing, luxurious, or pampering. Given the circumstances, just pamper yourself at home. You can even give yourself daily or weekly foot massages for free.

6. If you’re a male, you have several options regarding your hair.

  • You can grow out your hair during the pandemic lockdown and then get a haircut once barbershops and hair salons re-open. This applies to females as well.

  • Or you can give yourself a haircut. If you want the simplest haircut, give yourself a buzz-cut: use clippers (e.g. at setting 2 or 3) to uniformly shave your head. Or you can use clippers and scissors to give yourself a more difficult haircut (e.g. a side-part or faux-hawk) but watch several relevant YouTube videos beforehand so that you have some idea of what to do. Or you can just use clippers and/or scissors to trim your sideburns, the area around your ears, and your neckline.

  • If you cut your own hair, be patient and take your time. Do not worry about it looking perfect or great. The first time you cut your own hair (unless it’s a buzz-cut), it will likely look mediocre. Do not stress. Your hair will grow out. You will likely improve the next time you cut your hair, or you can just have your barber or hair stylist do it.

7. Go outside for a walk daily or once or twice weekly. This will help relieve cabin fever. Wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others.

8. Talk to your family and friends via phone, text, email, or video. You could also use social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but I think the first four methods are far superior.

9. Listen to your favorite music albums or podcasts.

10. Watch movies or TV shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. But practice moderation. Do not just binge all day, every day.

11. Play board games, card games, or videogames. Practice moderation.

12. If you are ambitious, learn a new foreign language or review one with which you’re already familiar. For example, you can do Pimsleur audio courses or Rosetta Stone courses.

13. Start a new hobby (e.g. cooking or sewing).

14. Work on home projects (e.g. clearing out your attic, basement, garage, or closet).

15. If you’re married or cohabitating with your significant other, spend quality time together but also give each other sufficient personal space. Do not drive each other nuts. In particular, you should establish a “no fighting” rule. This pandemic is already very stressful for many households; fighting with your significant other will make matters even worse.

16. If you’re single and you do not want to date anyone during this pandemic, then that’s perfectly okay. The pandemic will not last forever. It will probably last one year at most, and you can use this time to really work on yourself and improve yourself.

17. If you’re single and you still want to date during this pandemic, then do it all online: Tinder, Bumble,, Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc. However, DO NOT meet in person until the lockdown has been phased out significantly (e.g. most businesses are open). At that point, maybe you can meet in person but ensure that your date has no coronavirus symptoms (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath). Single boys and girls, DO NOT lie about your symptoms.

18. If you can afford it, donate to charities (e.g. Feeding America, your local food charity, or GetUsPPE).

19. If you can afford it, order take-out or delivery food once every weekend or every other weekend, in order to support local restaurants that are still open.

20. If you have any elderly neighbors, ask them if they need any assistance (e.g. shopping for groceries). If you have any neighbors who get sick with COVID-19 and need assistance (e.g. with groceries), then help them but follow the necessary precautions (e.g. leave groceries outside their door while wearing a face mask; do not make any physical contact with them).

21. DO NOT hoard massively. You DO NOT need a one-year supply of toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, hand soap, etc. Instead, buy one large or bulk pack of toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, etc. that will last 2-4 months. Once that pack starts running low, buy another one. Those who are massively hoarding these essential products are extremely selfish and immoral, and they are indirectly risking harm to others who cannot purchase them.


In summary, we should take the coronavirus very seriously, follow the necessary precautions, but maintain perspective: we are not engaging in direct, violent combat with a hostile, human force, and we are not dealing with the Black Death. In particular, we should not live in a constant, heightened state of fear, terror, and anxiety. This pandemic is a marathon or ultra-marathon, not a sprint, and we need to take it one day at a time. In order to pace ourselves through this marathon, we can do many things: meditate, exercise, read books, maintain good hygiene, go outside for walks, talk to family and friends, listen to music, watch movies or TV shows, play games, start a new hobby, work on home projects, and so on. And remember: nothing lasts forever, and this too shall pass.

Last revised 5/17/2020

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