Everything I Need to Know About a Pandemic, I Learned from Golden Books

This article is part of an ongoing series of life in the Washington DC area during a pandemic

In times of sustained stress, like that now caused by the worldwide pandemic, we often turn back to activities from our younger days for comfort. Maybe it’s eating a favorite breakfast cereal from our childhood. Or watching reruns of old TV shows or movies. It could playing nostalgic games, or completing jigsaw puzzles, or building models.

Such behavior is completely understandable. “Whenever we’re in a stressful situation, we tend to regress,” California-based psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb explained recently in Time magazine. “Going back to a time in our lives when we felt safe and we felt protected is a natural instruct during these times”.

I sometimes return to rereading old classic books that I previously read and enjoyed. And for Baby Boomers like me, one of the series of books that placed many of us on our love-of-reading road is the Little Golden Books.

A few years ago here in Washington, DC, the Smithsonian Museum of American History featured an exhibit highlighting the history and impact of the Little Golden Books, which featured memorable characters like Nurse Nancy and Doctor Dan, Tubby the Tugboat, or Little Pokey Puppy.

After viewing the exhibit, I purchased the book Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book, written by Diane Muldrow, a Golden Books editorial director.

Although written before the COVID-19 crisis, Muldrow’s words in the preface seem even more applicable today. “Our country has faced some hard times of late, and we’ve been forced to look at ourselves and how we’re living our lives,” she wrote.

“We here at Golden Books think there’s a good chance that many of us learned pretty much everything that really matters about life from what we read between those sturdy, gilt-bound cardboard covers.” she added. “After all, Little Golden Books were first published during the dark days of World War II, and they’ve been comforting people in trying times ever since”.

So I  decided to take up Mudrow’s assertion – what would be the top 10 lessons Golden Books might be able to teach us but how to cope with pandemic times. Here are the 10 I chose:

Don’t Panic
Obviously these are scary times. Our concern is elevated because we don’t have the answers we need.  What should we be doing to keep ourselves safe? We need to reopen our economy and get people back to work, but how do we do that safely? When can we go back to school, travel, go to the movies, eat at a restaurant, attend a concert, take a vacation? The list is long and the only honest answer is – we just don’t know. We do know however that panic will only exacerbate our disturbing position.

Keep in Touch 
In quarantine, that is hard to do. But contemporary technology like FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom allow us to keep in contact with our family, friends, and neighbors. Make sure you do that.

Stay Clear of Shady Characters
Just as the pandemic is showing us some of the best of human traits, it is also showcasing the worst. With so many people forced to stay home, unscrupulous characters are using this time on the internet to push untruths and try to entice people to fall for scams. Check and verify everything you encounter on online.

The Simplest Things Are Often the Most Fun

There’s no question for most of us our pre-pandemic lives were hurried and complicated. Now, whether we wanted to or not, we have been forced to slow down and reflect. That reflection should allow us to determine what simple things do bring us the most enjoyment.

Take a Mental Health Day Now and Then
These trying times are taking an emotional, psychological, and mental toll on all of us. We need to periodically recharge. Figure out what would recharge you and do it. Any work will still be there when you get back to it, but you should be better able to handle it.

Always Keep a Medical Kit Handy
Make sure you always have what you need to get through a time of crisis when it’s not that easy to get to a doctor or a hospital. If you don’t already have it, it may not be that easy to obtain. I mean who would ever have thought we would experience a shortage of toilet paper. But don’t hoard. Most say your medical survival kit should be able to get you through about 14 days until you have to restock.

Get Some Exercise Every Day
Gyms and fitness centers are closed, but that does not mean we should let ourselves go physically. In fact, vigorous activity will not only help physically, but mentally as well.

Turn Off the TV from Time to Time
There will always be a place for television and cable viewing in the 21st Century. But like any activity, it can be abused. Strive for balance. You don’t have to give up TV completely, but balance it with other activities.

Crack Open a Book
This is one of the activities that can balance screen time. But with modern advances, you can also get your reading from Kindles or audiobooks. One of the purposes of reading is to force us to create the pictures instead of always having them provided for us.

Do No Harm
In uncertain times, we all are going to make mistakes. But if we make sure that we are being motivated by the central principle of considering ourselves sand others equally, we should be able to minimize any possible harm we may bring to ourselves or others.

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