WASHINGTON, DC - As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, many individuals like me are doing their best to cope and adjust to this new normal. It is very difficult to read news reports about the tens of thousands of deaths in the U.S. and around the world. Many of us have lost our own loved ones to this devastating disease. 

During this challenging time, we’ve all had to adjust our behavior dramatically, taking special measures such as using face masks and practicing social distancing in a world where human connections are more important than ever. 

So I believe it’s only natural for us as social beings to want to make the best of our days during these unusual circumstances -- to not just survive our time in isolation, but to find some meaningful moments in our day-to-day existence.

Tranquil environment

As a reporter at Voice of America, I’m used to the hustle of a busy newsroom. But since working from home, I’ve adjusted to a 9 am-5 pm work schedule that’s much quieter! I do my research, writing and interviews all on the computer now, and keep in touch with colleagues via email and text messages. I am very grateful for my work, as I know many people across the U.S. and around the world have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.    

FILE - VOA Newsroom. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet)

In the months since I began working from home, I have found two things that have been important to keeping healthy -- physically, mentally and spiritually. One is having a routine and, within that routine, creating a balance between work and homelife.  

And the other is being connected to nature.

After I finish work at 5 pm, I take an hour-long walk on a wooded trail near my house. I find it very calming to be surrounded by the thick, green foliage of trees, the vibrant colors of the springtime flowers, and the sounds of birds, frogs and rushing water from the swollen creeks.

After my walk, it’s back home to make dinner -- another therapeutic activity I enjoy immensely -- and then I park myself in front of the TV with my husband to watch a movie or a few episodes of a favorite television series.

I keep in touch with family and friends by phone and via Zoom. We recently had an enjoyable get-together with our friends and neighbors in the alley behind our house, where we shared cocktails and conversations in the pleasant coolness of a spring evening.

Life under lockdown 

But there are things I miss while in lockdown: Dinners out with friends, going to the movies, and attending plays and concerts, for sure.

The hardest part is not seeing my son, who lives across town in his own apartment but stays away because his father is in the older age demographic and therefore vulnerable to exposure.

And I miss seeing my mother, who lives in an assisted living facility about a 10-minute walk from our house. The facility is in lockdown, like many elder care places across the country. I used to see her on a regular basis, but now take solace in the fact that she’s being well looked after. We talk on the phone on a regular basis, which also brings me some comfort.

British wisdom

It’s my mother’s wonderful attitude about life that has helped sustain my equilibrium during this time. She’s English and grew up in London during World War II. She survived the Blitz and then moved to Texas, where she met my Persian father in 1958. They married and moved to Iran where they lived for 30 years. They survived the Iranian revolution of 1979 and finally made America their home when they moved to Washington to be near me and my husband in the late 1980s.

My mother always said, “It’s not what happens to you in life that matters, it’s how you deal with it.”

She is a living example of that philosophy. And it is one that I, too, have tried to embrace.

I read something on social media recently that really resonated with me, and that is that rather than count the days, we should make the days count. And that’s what I’m trying to do -- strive for that work-life balance that helps me to make sense of things during these anxious times.

I have been blessed with a good life since becoming an American citizen many decades ago. I am very aware how lucky I am. I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge and people around who care about me. What this pandemic has provided is an opportunity to reflect on these many blessings.