Little Things Mean a Lot During Stressful Times

Author: Kim Ruocco

“Be careful what you wish for.” That phrase keeps playing over and over in my mind. I have longed for down time to rest, paint, read a book and just be with my family. It seemed like the answer to recovery from my fast-paced, travel-intensive job.

I got what I asked for — but not in the way I thought it would play out. COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders that came along with it have significantly changed my life and brought challenges I never expected. I am usually a calm person with good coping skills, but this virus has led to anxiety and stressors I have not experienced since the suicide death of my husband 15 years ago. 

It took me some time and effort to develop some strategies that will help me survive this coronavirus crisis, and I hope they will help others.

1. Take care of yourself physically.

I normally try to eat healthy and exercise, but I found that in this time where we are spending a lot of time in sweats and pajamas and don’t have to go out in the real world, things get neglected. Start with taking a shower! Soak your feet, give yourself a pedicure, paint your nails, and shave your face or legs. Little things can provide a big emotional lift.

2. Move.

It’s tempting to just sit and work on the couch. You may be afraid to go for a walk or run, but there is a lot you can do in your home. Stretch, dance, do some yoga moves. I have fallen back in love with ’80s music so I turn it up and just enjoy it as I move! You will feel better just getting a little blood flowing.

Woman practicing yoga in front of laptop

3. Be present.

Our lives can be so hectic. This time gives us an opportunity to be present to the world around us. If you have kids, especially teens, this is an opportunity to listen and be fully present to their world. If you have little kids, get down on the floor and immerse yourself in their play. You will be so thankful for this time when they’re grown!

4. Connect with friends.

Set up a time to Facetime or video chat with friends. You can watch a show together, form a book club, or just have a cocktail party. Laughing and sharing challenges can be so healing and comforting!

5. Practice gratitude.

Start and end your day with listing the things you are grateful for. Yes, life has its challenges right now, but we still have many things to be grateful for. Try listing those things when you go to bed at night and think about them when you start your day.

6. Give back.

Giving and receiving acts of kindness feels so good! Try to think of something you can do to make someone else feel special or smile. Buy some chalk and write a message on the sidewalk, pick up something for a neighbor at the grocery store, write a letter to someone who is isolated. 


I hope this helps! It’s helping me get through this difficult time as I look forward to those in-person hugs! Remember that you are not alone. TAPS is your family and is here 24/7. Call us at the National Military Survivor Helpline, 800-959-8277, or join us for Online Community chats, TAPS Togethers, TAPS Talks or other daily offerings.

Kim Ruocco, MSW,  is vice president of TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention. She is the surviving spouse of Marine Maj. John Ruocco.