I was watching my umpteenth hour of the news last week and one of the brilliant personalities whom I follow religiously mentioned a little silver lining during this tumultuous time of Corona. He spoke about the small things he’s starting to enjoy, the home-cooked meals with his wife, learning a new language in thirty days, and taking up self-defense lessons from home.

No one could have predicted our present reality. Families accustomed to one or both parents working until dusk are now forced to enjoy each other’s company 24/7. Kids schooling at home are now teaching their parents how to play nice. We’re all pitching in with the laundry, the cooking, as well as the cleaning. And don’t get me started on the self-grooming.  Heck, last night I gave my husband a full-service shave complete with a warm wet towel!

Our daily routines have changed.  People are taking advantage of the outdoors, keeping their social distance while walking, running and biking just to soak up a few minutes of sun and breathe in the fresh air.  And the gyms may be closed, but there are a ton of virtual exercise options that could possibly whip us into better shape than ever!  Individuals are saying hello with a smile and making room for an elderly
person to go to straight to the front of the line. And hopefully, we’re all taking a pause before running someone over to reach for the last roll of toilet paper.

We may be forced to physically separate in order to save lives, but we’re also connecting more
meaningfully than ever.  Together, and in time, we will get through this terrible crisis. For now, here are 11 surefire ways our manners – those wonderful social cues that keep us connected – can make a positive difference in the time of Corona.

Get out of bed, then make it!  If left up to our teens, we’d be operating from underneath the covers all day, but we have to get up even if we’re sheltering at home. Keep a daily routine. Set your alarm clock no later than 9am and make it your mission to get out of bed.  Fluff the pillows, straighten the sheets, and pull everything so tight that it’s too nice to mess up. Hold out til at least 9pm, then sink back in with the satisfaction that you’ve had a productive day.

 Ditch the sweats and sneakers.  Make no mistake, most of us still have to leave the house even if it’s to make a quick run to the local pharmacy or walk the dog in the neighborhood. Why not dress for the occasion? I’m not suggesting a suit or sultry frock, just something that makes you look presentable.  A little grooming wouldn’t hurt either. If it’s lunchtime and you still haven’t brushed your teeth may be pushing the limit!

 Sneeze into a tissue. We rarely have notice when we feel a sneeze coming on, but if at all possible find a
tissue and use it to cover your nose and mouth. If you’re unable to locate a Kleenex, sneeze into the inside of your shirt. Unfortunately, sneezing into the crook of your elbow can still spread germs if your appendage accidentally comes into contact with anything or anyone. Once a tissue is dirty, take it directly to a wastebasket or deposit into a baggie until you reach home.

Keep your social distance.  Six feet apart is the new mantra and personal space has taken on a whole new meaning.  This mandate is not meant to alienate, only to keep us healthy and safe. Social isolation, however, is an entirely different matter.  Don’t disappear. Stay in touch with people via phone or video. Send a check-in text or write a letter that says, ‘thinking of you.’ Remember those on the front lines who deliver our meals and our mail. An extra tip or kind word goes a long way to show appreciation. Connect and communicate on the regular.

Look marvelous on Zoom.  This video conferencing tool has provided us with a new way of being during the pandemic. We’re using it for everything from business calls to study halls and happy hours with friends. Since the purpose of video is to actually see people, why aren’t we making more of an effort in this area? Choose an interesting background, give yourself the gift of good lighting, put on an actual outfit (at least from the waist up!) and hit the start button with confidence.

Offer to pick up something from the store.  Ask your elderly neighbors to send you their market wish lists. Check-in with friends and family routinely to see if they forgot or ran out of an item. If you’ve made
it your mission to patiently wait in line at the market, make the most of your experience by helping
those who aren’t able to leave their home.

Hands, washing hands, reaching out… Take it from the great Neil Diamond who re-wrote “Sweet Caoline” for Coronavirus to remind us that hands are not for touching right now, they are for washing.  As many times as we need to.  Scrub your hands. Get into each web and each fingertip.  Use your antibacterial soap and wash for twenty seconds or the equivalent of two rounds of the ABC’s.

Swap recipes with those who love to cook.  If you have a friend who loves to cook or follow a chef who is sharing recipes from the pantry, get inspired, and give it a go. There’s no time like the present. The best defense we have is our good health so we must feed our bodies in a mindful manner. Swap recipes that are tasty, but also balanced for your diet. You can still support your local restaurants once or twice a week by ordering in.

Fine dine with or without the fine china. Turn dinnertime into an opportunity to practice your fine dining skills even if you don’t use the fine china.  Create atmosphere. Put a few flowers in a vase. Set the table with cloth napkins and light candles. Slow down and savor your meal. Use both a fork and a knife to cut and eat your food. Chew slowly, there’s no rush. Place your napkin on the left side of the plate once everyone has finished and politely excuse yourself at the end of the meal.

Refrain from the blame game. Everybody has the right to their opinion, just put a lid on it especially during these highly sensitive times. If the President pushed your last button or the stock market fluctuation has you feeling frustrated, take a deep breath and count to ten before spewing your views into the ether.  Group texts are not a free-for-all to ram your politics down someone else’s throat. Keep the funny memes coming and lets make a pact to stay on everyone’s good side.

Write letters to loved ones.  You don’t have to have fancy stationery or even note cards. Whether they live over the hill or across the country, if you have older relatives especially distant ones, they need
connection more than ever.  Putting pen to paper and taking the time to send a handmade, handwritten note shows how much you care and makes the recipient feel extra warm and fuzzy.  We’re alone, but we’re in this together.

 A final note to put a smile on your face.  While 2020 may go down as the worst year for people, our pets are singing a different story.  They’ve never been happier to have their owners home showering them love and long walks.  Pet adoption is also on the rise. If you don’t have a furry friend already, now is a great time to seek out some unconditional happiness. You deserve it!