Life with coronavirus: Optimistic food for thought

Life with coronavirus: Optimistic food for thought

Shirley Robbins (left), a staff member at the Franke Tobey Jones retirement community in Tacoma, helps resident Patsy Mills set up a video chat with relatives.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to throw up roadblocks for our way of life, it’s no small feat to find reasons to be optimistic in the face of uncertainty about the future, both near and long-term. But the general outlook gets a boost from the efforts of many who are doling out help with physical and emotional well-being, food and other essentials, and just plain old positive thinking.

Want to feel better about how we’re all getting through these tough times? Read on.



Experts at Iora Primary Care note that quarantine coping skills can help us focus on the positives and try to stay as optimistic as we can. Specifically:

  1. Stick to your regular schedule. Without one, it can be difficult to find balance or productivity in your day. For starters, keep regular wake and bedtimes. Avoid staying in bed for longer than eight hours per day. Eat regular meals and break times when you typically would.
  2. Maintain mild to moderate activity to hitch up your mood. Even if just for 30 minutes every day, find some form of physical activity that’s easy, accessible and reasonable to help cope with coronavirus anxiety and stress.
  3. Schedule relaxation or “wind-down” time for self-care. After a long day, the importance of making time for yourself can’t be overstated. Some simple ways include a bath or shower at the end of the day to wind down, unplugging from television and computers at least an hour before bedtime, scheduling a few minutes for breathing exercises, and writing in a journal.
  4. Keep your brain active. Play cards, games or word puzzles. Make crafts, knit, sew, doodle or write. Watch an uplifting movie or show, but avoid too much television/couch time all at once; it can make us feel worse. Re-read a book you haven’t read in a while. See if your neighbor wants to do a book exchange (drop at your front door and keep six apart, of course). Download an audiobook.



  • Lutheran Community Services Northwest’s Meals on Wheels has expanded deliveries from two to four days a week. That includes a one-time delivery of meals for one to two weeks to high-needs, high-risk or homebound seniors. A total of 916 meals were provided in March, which is almost double the typical average of 500 meals per month. A spokeswoman lamented that due to the no-contact delivery requirement, checking on seniors’ welfare is difficult.
  • Food Lifeline, Emergency Food Network (EFN), and Northwest Harvest, which serve and supply food banks and related programs in Pierce County and King County and other areas of western Washington, have reported increased demand from the public. EFN plans to distribute as many as 300,000 boxes of food per week, and Northwest Harvest said in early April that visits to food banks doubled in the past month. Some local examples: The Bonney Lake Food Bank reported a 25 percent increase in clients, the Prairie Ridge and White River Families First group went from providing about 80 dinners on Wednesday nights to 104 and running out of food, and Bethel School District is providing 3,000 meals a week for students who normally would receive them at school.
  • Dr. Amanda Kore Schilling, an anesthesiologist at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, collected food donations from the staff at the hospital’s Walters Surgery Center and gave them to Lutheran Community Services Northwest to pass along to its clients in the Port Angeles area. Her goal was to do something extra for communities in need during the pandemic.
  • Dispatch Health, whose personnel already were out and about providing mobile healthcare for residents in Pierce County and King County, have added food-delivery to their service. They’re packaging bags of donated groceries to carry with them and give to elderly patients who need food. “Thank you for all that have donated to help keep our seniors safe, healthy, and not hungry,” said De Ann Johnson, the company’s community engagement manager.
  • “Hero meals” donated by participating downtown Tacoma restaurants are for medical workers, first-responders, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers and bus drivers. The goal is to deliver 100 meals three days a week to the front-line workers, organizers said. The effort is being organized by the Downtown Tacoma Association (Local Development Council of Tacoma), which is accepting cash donations and coordinating orders for meals. More information is available at
  • In one of many ways that churches and other organizations are helping, Lutheran Church of St. Paul in Graham offers food packs on Friday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. through its food pantry. The church is accepting donations to support the food mission—various types of non-perishable food can be dropped off on Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon, and checks can be mailed to The Lutheran Church of St Paul, St. Paul Food Pantry, P. O. Box 1186, Graham, WA 98338. Financial donations can also be made online at



A poll by the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) found that the majority of Americans are disinfecting properly when cleaning hard surfaces in their homes. There’s room for improvement, though. Most disinfectants must remain on surfaces for 10 minutes before being wiped off. But in the survey that contacted 1,005 adults March 18-19, 26 percent of them said they spray and then wipe surfaces immediately, while another 16 percent said they make a quick pass with a disinfectant wipe.

ACI represents U.S. manufacturers of cleaning products, a $60 billion industry nationally.



Gym closures, cancellations of fitness classes, and closed parks and trails as a result of social-distancing are making it harder to maintain exercise routines. That’s a double-whammy at a time when exercise is especially important for physical and emotional health. Chad McCann, a Tacoma physical therapist, notes that regular exercise that can strengthen one’s immune system and help their mental outlook is possible with a little resourcefulness. For instance:

  • Try online services for a variety of daily workout routines–cardio, yoga, stationary cycling, etc.
  • Enjoy the fresh air and natural sites, but “be sure to keep your distance from passersby,” McCann said.
  • If you don’t have gym equipment at home, use canned goods as weights, towels as resistance bands, and stairs for cardio. Use your own body weight in lunges, squats, push-ups and sit-ups (to name a few exercises that are a good workout).
  • And do home projects that keep you active, such as organizing, home maintenance, yardwork and gardening.


Shirley Robbins (left), a staff member at the Franke Tobey Jones retirement community in Tacoma, helps resident Patsy Mills set up a video chat with relatives.

Lisa Cini, an author who speaks and writes about senior-living issues, said it’s important to remember what assisted living and other senior living facilities are doing for their residents amid coronavirus.

“These healthcare providers are patient and kind, they love (residents) as family, they treat them with respect and dignity and keep them healthy,” said Cini. “Please send your love not only to your loved one in senior living, but also to the unsung heroes who are keeping the resident’s bodies safe and their hearts happy.”

At the Franke Tobey Jones retirement community in Tacoma, each resident has been assigned a staff member to be their temporary personal concierge and link them to family and outside services. The service helps residents stay informed and mitigate feelings of isolation, said the community’s marketing director, Christine Hall, who is assigned to 10 residents.

“It’s been rewarding to deliver meals, set up Zoom happy hours with family members, and bring care packages to residents from families,” Hall said.

Shirley Robbins, who works in admissions, has enjoyed introducing residents to video chats. She said their faces “light up” when seeing relatives “pop up on the screeen from near and far. Some of these family members live in other parts of the world and it’s the first time they’ve set eyes on them in years.”

A daughter of a resident said she’s grateful for employees being a “stand-in family and doing any necessary errands while we work through the pandemic.”