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How to Care for Your Community and Yourself During COVID-19

aerial view of the UMD campus and surrounding city of Duluth
March 30, 2020

We are living in an unprecedented time. One of the best ways to get through this is to help each other.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” -Coretta Scott King

Last week, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared an emergency executive order mandating that all Minnesotans stay home for the next two weeks. Although many people have already been practicing social distancing, it can be difficult to adjust to this change. Below are some ideas to help you and your community safely get through these next few weeks. 

  • Practice Social Distancing. As of March 27, all Minnesotans are mandated to stay home until April 10. Please follow this regulation, and only leave your house for critical needs. It can be difficult to stay home, but it’s one of the easiest and most-efficient ways to keep yourself and your community healthy. The goal of social distancing is to flatten the curve so that hospitals have enough supplies and space to treat patients who need care.
  • Get outside. Not only will you get some exercise and Vitamin D, but the Sun's rays are also natural sterilizers. Just remember to keep at least six feet away from other people. Outline of a person walking along Lake Superior
  • Pick up after each other. While on your outdoor adventure, look for any trash laying around to pick up.
  • Check in on yourself and the people around you. During this time of isolation, it’s especially important to take care of yourself and your community. Spend some quality time with yourself, with activities like meditation, yoga, self-reflection, journaling, or spending time outside. Also check in on your friends, family and neighbors. You can use online services like Google Hangouts, Zoom or go the old-fashioned route and send snail mail. 
  • Travel the globe… from home. Just because you’re social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t still have adventures. The sky’s the limit, especially with the Internet involved.  You can travel to China to watch a live stream of giant pandas. Or, spend time with some puppies in Maryland. You can also watch free documentaries by DW Documentary, a German Public Broadcast Service, on YouTube. Some featured documentaries include “By train Across Sri Lanka” and “On Route 7 into the Heart of Patagonia.” Take a trip “across the pond” and visit The British Museum in London, England. Google, Arts & Culture has collected virtual experiences from hundreds of other museums around the world.
  • Test out your green thumb. The warming weather and extra time at home provide a great opportunity to either grow your plant collection or start one. For first timers, some easy plants are pansies, basil, mint and marigolds. Try to plant the seeds in zero-waste products, like recycled tin cans, the bottoms of plastic bottles or even newspapers. Set them on a sunny windowsill, water, and watch them grow! metal pot filled with cactus and other plants
  • Stay current on current events- up to a point. It’s important to stay up-to-date with current events. However, it’s just as important to recognize when you’re feeling drained and/or overwhelmed by all of the news and information. Consider adding positive news sources to your rotation, like the Good News Network or Positive.News. Both of these sources focus on only sharing positive news around the world, like these shelter animals who are finding loving homes amidst COVID-19.
  • Help when you can. If you are healthy and able, consider helping your neighbors by offering to grocery shop for them, shovel their sidewalks and other chores they might not be able to do right now. 

Our current situation can be scary and overwhelming. The best we can do is continue to help and care for ourselves, our communities and our environment. We can’t predict what the world will look like in a few years, a few weeks, or even tomorrow. What we do have control over are our actions right now. It’s okay to take time to grieve and be scared and anxious. Although the campus isn’t open, the UMD community is still here for you. If you want to talk to a professional, consider contacting UMD Counseling Services for virtual support. Our office is here for all of you and we cannot wait to see you all in person next semester.