The COVID-19 Mental Checklist for Black Men

With COVID stay-at-home orders likely to come soon in response to a summer uptick in coronavirus cases, many of us will be returning to life under quarantine. This is not great news for many, but we should all consider this moment a learning opportunity to improve on things we could have done better during the first round of quarantine. I know I want to be more proactive about finding ways to reduce stress and anxiety. We can all engage in better communication with those we live with and those we love. Let’s all commit to increase our productivity, peace and power in the coming months. How? Develop a Quarantine Checklist that helps you deal with the ups and downs of where we are right now. I developed the following seven point checklist to encourage you to thrive during this new season of quarantine.

1. COVID CORRECTION: Assess what you will do better this time

To start, make a list of the things that you feel didn’t go well during the last round of quarantine. It could include anything from your diet and wellness to your relationships with loved ones. Whats the one thing you most want to improve? Make a list of steps that will help you to achieve your goal. Share the steps with one person you trust and then walk them out.

2. I’M GOOD?: Schedule weekly wellness check-ins

First, identify 15 mins a week, where you STOP...ask yourself HOW ARE YOU DOING, and give yourself an honest answer. Give yourself permission to fully feel everything! Think about writing it down, if not take it all in. Sometimes you don't have to have all the answers about how you will navigate how you feel. Being honest about it is a important step. Next, make time for weekly check-ins with your friends and family. Provide a space that allows them to open up and, together, identify tools to help them manage their feelings. Remember that everyone is coping with this crisis in their own ways. Letting your loved ones know that they can depend on you for emotional support can go a long way in helping to alleviate stress.

3. LET’S TALK: Communicate proactively

With the wellness check-ins as a start, create consistent and open channels of communication between you and the folks in your circle. Ask them how you can be most supportive during this time. Establish agreement around necessary boundaries, both mental and physical.

4. NOT TODAY: Identify your stress relievers

We all have things or activities that help us relieve stress. Discover your healthy coping mechanisms and begin integrating these activities into your routine. It could be as simple as scheduling time for a daily walk or beginning each morning with the perfect playlist.

5. BECAUSE I’M HAPPY: Cultivate intentional moments of joy

In addition to stress relieving activities, be deliberate about carving out time to do things that actually make you happy! Indulge in joyful pursuits that will make your day, week or month a little brighter. Maybe it's connecting with friends via Zoom or dedicating one day of the week to watch a new movie. Whatever it is, make it a priority and find time to actually do it.

6. THIS IS FOR ME: Determine what you want to build

One of the rare benefits of quarantine is the extra time it has afforded many of us. Commit to using this time productively to create something that didn’t exist during the first quarantine. Start writing that business plan you’ve been putting off. Pick up a new skill or tap into some skills you already have. When quarantine ends, you’d much rather be celebrating the completion of something you built than regretting something you wished you’d built.

7. BE SAFE: Commit to safety

If you haven’t already, develop a plan to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during this time of pandemic. Wear a mask and insist that your family does as well. Pay attention to the news and heed the advice of trusted medical experts. Avoid crowded spaces unless you absolutely have no other options. Be prepared to self isolate if you feel yourself getting sick. Take all the necessary precautions to ensure that you and your family make it through this crisis with your physical, mental and financial health intact.

I am taking my own advice and incorporating these recommendations into my personal routine. Every day won’t be easy. There are days you will find yourself frustrated. Don’t make quarantine an excuse to simply survive, but instead give yourself an excuse to thrive. Trust me, future you will be forever grateful.

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