This pandemic has thrown our daily routines for a loop, as many people are now working from home and students are remote learning. Life as we know it will never be the same. This realization can make anyone feel uncertain about the future, and for me, someone who needs time to adapt to change, this brought up feelings of anxiety and stress. However, living in this crazy moment has really allowed me to put things in perspective and has reminded me that the small, simple things like being with your family or having food to eat are what matter most.
Listening and watching the news propelled my stress. New York City, where I live, was the epicenter of the virus in the spring, meaning cases of COVID were increasing at rapid rates. Things definitely got worse before they got better. Once quarantine was in place, I didn't leave my apartment for two weeks. And once I finally did, the first place I went was too the supermarket, something that I never really gave much thought to until now.
One morning, while watching Univision, a news segment reported how people in my Bronx community were standing in long lines waiting to get free food for their families. After seeing the camera pan on the line of people, I couldn't help but feel sad. As my mom watched with me, she said, "Hay que agradecerle a Dios que nosotros siempre tenemos comida en la casa," which translates to, "We have to thank God that we always have food at home."
I realized then all the blessings I have and decided to keep a weekly gratitude journal to channel these emotions.
This immediately changed my outlook on this pandemic. Yes, I felt stressed, but so many people around me were going through far more stressful situations. I think of parents who have gotten let go from their jobs and cannot provide a meal for their families. With remote learning, many families can't count on the daily school lunch they used to have. Putting myself in their shoes made me feel thankful that I could go to the supermarket and buy everything on our grocery list.
I realized then all the blessings I have and decided to keep a weekly gratitude journal to channel these emotions and practice self-care. Expressing gratitude has been shown to help cope with stress and build stronger relationships. More importantly, it also gave me perspective, something that is incredibly important to have during these tired, difficult times. It is not lost on me how lucky I am and how imperative it is to show my appreciation for all the positive in my life, while also trying to help those who aren't as fortunate.
I've since learned that before the pandemic, Latinx were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households compared to non-Hispanic white individuals. And now, with COVID-19, food insecurity among Latinx may be even greater. This prompted me to donate to Feeding America, which feeds those in need and supports food banks and meal programs (like the one those families were waiting in line for) throughout the US. It seems like a small gesture, but any help counts.