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Ask HN: How are you coping with all the (mostly bad) news around you?
79 points by novice1234 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 120 comments
I see the news and see things are getting worse. I have developed anxiety. Also I have WFH mandatory. I don't seem to be handling it very well. Do u have any tips and methods that help you.



Basically every other generation before you in history faced a much greater threat with far less resources, technology, and desire to cooperate. Cold War, WW2, WW1, American Civil War, Chinese Civil War, Napoleonic Wars, French Revolution, Black Death, Mongol Invasions, etc. since the beginning of time.

I personally find it comforting to know that no matter how bad this virus gets, it’s essentially nothing when placed within the context of human history.


This is entirely true. Even my parents generation had to face much larger odds of getting killed in the Vietnam conflict or coming back with severe substance/mental health issues. Or they could go to Canada for 15 years, put the career on hold until Carter pardoned everyone.

So while the millennial and gen x have a 0.2% chance of death from coronavirus which of course all precautions should be taken, this is nowhere near the hazards our parents and grandparents faced in ww2/Korea/Vietnam.


This is a great perspective. Thanks!


I take the dimmer view: this is not even a real emergency, and we're not doing very well. I'm not down-playing the seriousness of the pandemic, by "real" I mean it's not a dirty nuke, a large-scale bio-chemical act of terrorism, a virus like ebola where death is faster and more graphic, geographical disaster of continental proportion, or an alien invasion (could happen - we think about it, write about it, make lots of movies). The guidance had been generally: stay home for two weeks. There's not a disruption in the manufacturing of toilet paper, 90% of which is made in the US. Yet we have panic buying of everything, markets down in historic marker, everybody acts like they can't make the next payment (not sure if true, everybody acts like it though). We are so under-prepared for anything really serious.


>panic buying of everything

It's not panic buying when you are basically told to stay in your home for weeks on end. You say two weeks- but in Washington here our schools are closed for SIX WEEKS. People want to be prepared. I have kids, they eat like adults. Do you realize how big of food shopping trips people normally do every 1-2 weeks anyway with full families? And we simply don't know if production is going to slow down, how fast stores with be able to resupply various items. Might be no big deal or might be a problem.

So I think you really confuse panic buying with being prepared.. having to go to the store every few days because you don't stock up pretty much defeats the purpose of what we are doing.

>markets down in historic marker

And why should it not be? The markets were already pushing themselves to the limits.. you add a simple normal reversal on top of this mess and you get exactly what we are seeing. Plus, there is no modern equivalent for the economic impact this will have. It's going to spiral and seep into every aspect of the economy. Why shouldn't the market plummet? The uncertainty is almost unfathomable.

>everybody acts like they can't make the next payment

Well.. you have tons of people who simply cannot work right now. Enough people in the country/world live essentially paycheck to paycheck anyway- now suddenly we take away potentially weeks/months of income? What do you expect?

>We are so under-prepared for anything really serious.

Yes and no. This situation just shows how utterly fragile all parts of the economy depend on each other, how much supply chains are linked, and how much we take it for granted that everything is always working as usual.


I am curious if other people are shifting their buying habits. For my family, we have been buying more staple goods that keep for a long period of time like rice and beans. Typically, we don’t eat either of those, but that’s the only thing that will keep you fed if grocers are empty for a month.

I think this shift of buying could be called preparedness, but in another way it’s a panic because it’s a serious change in behavior.


I have been buying fewer Staples and more perishables - because no staples are left on store shelves, and meat and produce are the only food left to buy.


It’s funny when you mention serious, “real” emergencies then go on to list occurrences that have never happened in history.

A nuclear attack without any warning would be unprecedented. Usually there is some build up before you wipe out entire cities. That build up let’s people get prepared.

A deadlier Ebola by the way would be less serious than actual Ebola. Ebola is already too deadly to make use of its infectiousness. In my view, the most deadly virus would be a variant of coronavirus that will regularly send healthy young adults into the ICU, and have a longer period of being asymptomatic.


I don't think my point is that we're not prepared for an alien invasion - obviously a ridiculous example. Someone was saying this experience is comforting, someone else said that's a great perspective. I on the other hand am distressed. This is not a really serious event, and our irrational reactions to it show we are terribly unprepared for a more serious event, any event with more death and trauma immediately visible to more people.

> Usually there is some build up before you wipe out entire cities. That build up let’s people get prepared.

Yes. We have runs on toilet paper and lunch meats now. What then, when people are preparing for a nuclear strike.


Did anyone really think two weeks would be sufficient? I don’t know anyone that did, and I suspect this is what led to what you call “panic buying” which I call “rational preparation for a long sequestration”


Yet we have panic buying of everything

Initially, I got irritated with it too. But there seems to be no hurry from the govt in creating a vaccine, testing kits aren't widely available. When they do become available, it will most likely not be free of charge. There is no clear, coherent messaging from the govt. No clear instructions other than the basic "stay home, don't shake hands". The president is trying to buy the vaccine only for his countrymen from Germany...

How hard can it be to release accurate numbers, have consistent/clear messaging on the status, on what to do and what not to do, set up testing centers for free etc?

If this is the level of response for this, what can we expect in the case of much severe scenarios like the one you describe?

People are panic buying because they don't know what else to do.


I'm enjoying it. As I see it society goes two ways during hard times: people either become selfish survivalists, or they become more compassionate.

Lockdowns are great - they keep the assholes away from you and lock you in with the people who will live and die with you (or they can be hell). If you're not with someone, maybe you should find someone? Move in with a friend because loneliness will make you very depressed.

Use it to lock away the rest of the world. Instead of swiping on Facebook or thinking of what clubs to go to, you can cuddle with a significant other, or make pancakes with a friend. Watch TV together. Build little LEGO structures. Find the best way to make tea or fried eggs.

I like to focus on the little things and this is the time when all of them will be magnified. So what if you lose your job, your career, your life's savings? There will be a different world next month. Just enjoy the sunset.


You impress me as a healthy person who is financially secure and/or has a strong safety net of family/friends/governmental support, who finds it not difficult to stay on the sunny side of life. I'm not sure you have much to offer people who are struggling with health problems, overwhelming family responsibilities and/or financial insecurity as we head into a recession. Some people are wondering how they are going to support themselves and where they are going to live in the near future, so "Just enjoy the sunset" comes off as a little vacuous. edit: sp


Optimism is a skill, and takes a lot of practice. The less you have to be happy about, the harder you have to look for a small thing that gives you happiness. Comics and clowns rarely come from happy environments. Suppressing/blinding yourself to unhappy things is unhealthy and dangerous. It's better to find the beauty or humor in darkness.

Everyone dies. Some of us will die in the next month or lose loved ones, and worse. When things are out of control, that's when it's most important to have control over your emptions.


This. Very sage advice. Turning inwards while turning off devices unlocks many things.

Written non-ironically on a device ;)


I simply don't watch, listen or expose myself to any type of news (except HN). I've essentially blocked every single mainstream news outlet (TV, Press, Radio) on twitter, I'm not on facebook so I would suggest you suspend your account if you have one (but keep messenger if you use it), don't be tempted to google anything related to that "toilet paper virus".

This has two main benefits IMO:

1. you short circuit the mainstream media's agenda: provoke fear to generate clicks and keep your eyeballs stuck on the screen which means more revenue for them.

2. When you put yourself in situations of severe stress, you release that stress hormone (whose name I'm unable to recall) which can and will have a negative effect on your body putting you at even more risk of becoming ill. (this has happened to me earlier last year)

Last piece of advice: in your downtime, try to call your friends, family members if you're on your own, play video games with them online, have fun, watch comedy movies / shows etc ... Don't let this get to your head, that's how you beat the virus.

I say all this because in my area, the vibe and energy is so off and negative it feels like everytime I go out I'm about to meet to group of zombies ready to eat me alive (a la walking dead).

Just wash your hands, and the rest will fall into place. At this point there's not much one can do, people die everyday from countless numbers of illnesses and diseases, the world will move on eventually.

I don't know if it's a western thing or what, but it feels like people in this part of the world are craving for a catastrophic scenario like that to unfold so they can feel part of something greater than themselves, it's quite unsettling.

Oh, and also, use this time to re-evaluate your goals and aspirations in this life, because you've only got one. Apologize to the people you hurt and forgive those who've hurt you, make peace with yourself and smile to people when you see them, lift the atmosphere up a bit, because the media sure isn't going to do that.

Finally, as one meme I've found on the www yesterday so brilliantly put it: WW3 never happened and the Australia fires eventually stopped.

Sorry I went on a bit of rant, but I had to get this off my chest.

Cheers mate


> craving for a catastrophic scenario like that to unfold so they can feel part of something greater than themselves

This reminds me of a recent piece in the NYT about despair[1]. I thought that a discussion of meaning was conspicuously absent. I think that religion and civic life has so utterly failed to provide any substantive meaning of life for most people in a manifestly secular world, that is isn't the least bit surprising to me that a growing number of people are experiencing existential despair.

A genuine catastrophic scenario can easily be seen as a source of richness, excitement, and meaning that many deeply crave, even if they don't realize it consciously. We humans are starved for such meaning.

[1] http://archive.ph/Qhjyn


This is why I really do believe that family (or the opportunity to have a fam) is all we have.


What about art, mathematics, fiction, music, etc?


My instinct tells me that the fraction of the human population which derives substantial, enduring meaning from art, mathematics, fiction, music, etc. is extremely slim. These things are complementary or perhaps supplementary to a larger void of cosmic meaning.

As Camus wrote:

> There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.

To me, art, mathematics, fiction, music, etc. are not what comes to mind when I answer that question.


As I recall about The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus concluded that life is fundamentally absurd and meaningless, and "what counts ... is the most living." The absurd man of Camus "enjoys a freedom with regard to common rules." [had to look that up]

So I don't think Camus would necessarily accept family as universally what makes life worth living, if that is what you meant.

To me, the rejection of art, mathematics, fiction, music makes life that much less worth living. Family is one of my essential values, but so are many other things. It is not a competition in any sense.


Those things are important, even special, but at the end of your life, you'll want family by your side, not a painting.


But that's quite different from your original statement. We weren't talking about what matters at the end of one's life.

You simply said "[family is] all we have". I think it's fair to interpret that as applicable to any point in one's life, or broadly all of one's life (barring emergencies), not just on one's deathbed.

Life is pretty long. It's great to have family, and I love mine. But I can't admire them all day.


Words of wisdom. Thank you. The human level doesn't get so much consideration here on HN -- and yet it matters more than any other thing.

Protect yourself, your family, and simply do good for others as much as you can.


> stress hormone

Cortisol? :D

I agree with all your points. I uh after checking twitter (I never checked twitter before as much especially local news), I am panicking more about the fact that we have so many people who actually believes in some seriously messed up stuff.

Even if twitter is not representative of total population, seeing only that on my screen made me anxious and I realised why we are becoming a surveillance state worse than China for quite some time.


Thanks, nice advice. I avoid TV and watch my usual Youtube feeds. And I benefit from free classical concerts and virtual museum visits.


Leaning on friends, talking about my issues. Being open about my problems to management. And being OK (as in accepting) that I am not doing OK (as in not doing very well).

A lot of my friends also have free time. So a lot of doing stuff together remotely. Some of doing stuff together physically in small groups. And mostly, just a lot more contact with people on WhatsApp.

I read some advice that said, only check the news on e.g. 2 set moments in the day. I am trying to follow that. As for anxiety about how this is going to play out, I have accepted that things will be touch for a while. But I have faith that, here in the Netherlands at least, society will survive. And I have enough buffers (financial and supply wise) that I believe I am setup well enough that I can last longer than most. Hence, I think drastic measures will be taken to protect most people before I really start feeling the pinch.

My advice to you: stay in contact with people. Be open about your anxiety to them. Don't be an alarmist to your friends if you can help it.

As for work, I just sent them an e-mail saying "I ain't doing very well" with an implicit 'deal with it' in there.


> I read some advice that said, only check the news on e.g. 2 set moments in the day.

This is really healthy advice. My approach has been to establish some routine for checking news. At first it was whenever possible, to figure out what to do in a country that was being misguided by its own government (US). Then, when our family made its decisions about how to respond (isolate), we read news off and on throughout the day, and spent much of our time contacting people we have decent relationships with, trying to help them understand to take things seriously. Now that we're mostly in our own house and just waiting it out, we're starting to just check things a couple times a day. I've found it's healthy for me to not check news just before bed. Check in the evening, then have time to digest what's happening and let go of it enough to get a good night's sleep and try to stay healthy.

Reminder for everyone in an area where peak caseload is still in front of you, we want to stay healthy and uninjured not just to avoid coronavirus, but also because an overwhelmed health care system won't respond well to any other injuries or illnesses either. So now, 9yo son, you can't build a tower to the ceiling and climb up on it because there's a small chance you'll fall and break your arm and we don't want you trying to mend a broken arm in an entirely stressed health care situation. I am normally a much bigger fan of natural consequences than I am right now.

Stay safe everyone, and give yourself space to let go when you can.


A decade ago my country was hammered by the financial crisis. I made the decision to stop actively seeking out the latest news, apart from skimming HN or Reddit and seeing headlines by accident since it was all negative, negative, negative stuff for several years in a row. I don't stress about events as much as people around me, and it doesn't negatively affect my life in any way, in fact it probably improves my mental health. I don't watch TV apart from sport, and don't seek out information online apart from my hobbies and interests. I don't actively use FB or Twitter either.


I think what helps me the most is trying to focus as much as I can at what I can do and what's in area of my control.

For me, it's making sure I have followed the recommendations of health organisations in my country, making sure I get my work done and do what I do well every day, making sure I take care of my health, reaching out to my colleagues / friends if I need help or they need help.

But most of all, it's focus. I am training better focus via Headspace app and it's really helping.


I am notorious tab hoarder (100+ tabs in Firefox open right now).

I have decided that now is a good time to go through all those pre-pandemic tabs. This limits my exposure to covid news and allows me to stay sane.


Thank you sir. I know what I can do for the next few days!


This is specifically to the OP, but also others that have generalized anxiety. Counseling can be very helpful and hopefully many can support remote sessions. From personally speaking, what I also have found has helped:

- trying to be helpful to others - this single mental attitude can improve overall mood, make one feel more connected, and has a positive effect on the world

- have hobbies and activities that are engaging and that you look forward to. For me this is boardgaming, which has been a bit of a challenge given the social distancing, but fortunately there are online options that are helpful

- reminding myself that this is temporary. Although I haven't quite been through anything exactly the same, I have been through difficult experiences in the past and have grown due to them.


Finally getting around to coding that side project that kept getting pushed to the back burner.

This is a specific instance of the general strategy I call "PARSE" which is an acronym for Positive Actions Reasoned Service Experiments. Positivity comes first because negativity is a terrible and ever present trap, actions are fundamentally different from plans and rumination, reason because it is always worth stepping back to make sure what you are doing actually makes sense, service because being fully human means helping others, and experiments because ultimately anything you can do is just an attempt to try something out that will lead to examination of results and honing of observations, methods, ideas, and so on.


1. This, too, shall pass.

2. We're all gonna die. But for most, not today, and not from this.


I never stress about things i cannot influence, so Im mostly focusing on préventing my parents from visiting me...


My reaction to the news is largely disappointment. This didn't have to happen the way it did.

I'm a bit uneasy and quite pessimistic about the whole thing. The possibility it's going to get bad beyond what anyone can currently imagine isn't zero. One month ago we wouldn't have imagined where we are today.

That said, the majority of my life up until now has consisted of considerable real life social isolation, so the social distancing as of late is basically business as usual.


Humour. We Brits have a fairly dark gallows humour anyway and we also genuinely have a cultural sense of 'grin and bear it', 'stiff upper lip', 'keep calm and carry on' also called 'blitz spirit'.

Today, after the UK generally and my office specifically required working from home, I made subtle references to this sketch [1] from TV show 'That Mitchell and Webb Look'. I make standups light and breezy; I add a lighter tone to emails.

The important thing for me is not to undermine the seriousness of the situation that we're in - in many ways I'd like to emphasise it and embolden it. On the other hand, I want to reduce the mental strain on people and to keep spirits high. High spirits, high productivity and everyone feels like they're being included and that everything is being taken care of.

Now is the time for managers to shine. We have the responsibilities of looking after our people, especially in a profession such as software engineering which could potentially be isolating and intimidating.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnd1jKcfBRE


We Mexicans are kind of like that (shit.. we make a party of/for the dead). People here are joking so much about Coronavirus that sometimes it feels like they don't care.

I've most likely got corona myself (waiting for the pcr test results) and am isolating. I setup my man cave as a "camping experience " since I'll be staying here for some time.


Make happy events at home and celebrate them.

- Learned to bake my first loaf of bread from scratch. Wife and I celebrate by eating some of the bread together.

- Germinating my seeds in seed trays for the first time. Food stuffs like corn and bell pepper plants, in addition to flowers. Taking pictures every day as the corn and red cabbage sprouts.

- Playing with our dog extra, since he is depressed I'm home and ignore him for most of the morning and afternoon to WFH.


No magic bullet but I changed what I do on the net.

Block/reduce usage of sites that are abt mindless consumption (hacker news encourages mindless consumption too - I don't really need to see most of the stuff that shows up here surrounding the tech stuff I care about)

Stopped using YouTube/Reddit/FB which I think has helped.

Twitter I still find useful but I Enable it only on the weekends for few hrs to catch up with messages and ppls feeds.

Also blocked most news sites (nytimes/CNN/fox/wapo/bbc...basically any news site where they threw opinion/infotainment at me on the side panels or prominently on main page). It was too addictive for me.

So I just blocked them in my Host file. I use Steve blacks big list on github. I scatter multiple entries for the same site throughout the file so its a pain to unblock even if I feel an urge.

The consequence is I end up getting most of my news on sites (from Canada, Ireland, Japan etc) where the opinions are about things I have no great interest in and find it easier to skip over.

Basically control your daily info flow. Just like food don't over consume. The sites are designed to capture your attention and keep you feeling helpless to sell ads.


You've recognized your anxiety, so congrats on being conscious about it. Think of it as the first step of a solution.

Unfortunately, what's happening in the world is out of our control. We need info and we need to share good info, but don't constipate on bad news. Recognize that fear in the past, often was about nothing, or it's worse to think about it. Learn to not give a F.

You have some control, how you react (not how you feel), and getting into some work or play will relieve the stress. We need to move our bodies, sing and dance if you can, however best you can release your energy. Build from there.

Some things we can change, other things we can't. Use this time to reconnect with yourself, investigate stuff that interests you, let the bad news fly by as pure informational data and realize you are in your own cockpit. A good distraction is focusing on someone else and what they need.

Good luck! There will be bad feelings, but the worst of them is just thinking too much. Let the feelings come if they need to, just don't indulge in fear or paranoia, and accept that negative reactions will come up.

Slow, deep breaths into stomach. Relax.


The bad news, fearmongering, pessimism, empty market shelf pictures, etc clogging my otherwise interesting forward thinking RSS feeds feels like a case of the hiccups.

People just want to rally around something - you've now got access to more prompts for conversation with complete strangers under looming conditions that appear to threaten your species.

There is also a reverse psychology element in your biased Media Mogul Controlled "News" telling you to stay away from other people for a few weeks (when authority announces the end of this phase there will be a burst of interaction and crowded events to restore social equilibrium ).

Since we all learned through standardized curriculum grade school about large fractions of past populations dying off to disease spread - all of this is ancient memory tellling us to be careful.


As a Christian, I view this somewhat differently. I don't particularly fear my own death, or my world falling apart, even while I recognize that those are realistic possibilities, because I don't believe that this life is all there is. I don't need to hold on to it as if it's all I will get.

So I view all of this with watchfulness, some concern, but not particularly with fear. I try to take care of those around me. (I'm limiting my exposure to others at the moment, because my daughter may have had it a week ago, but wasn't tested, because we're in the US and nobody was being tested here a week ago.) We stocked up on some things two or three weeks ago. I'm working from home. I'm maybe a little bit bored, but not much more than that.


1. Realize and accept that you have no control over some things. 2. Enjoy the pleasures of remote work.


If it your first time WFH, the anxiety due to that will pass with time.

News out there exists to induce some heightened emotional response. Either a WOW factor or a FEAR factor. Apparently, news to induce the FEAR factor is usually available. You don't believe me - then count the negative news and positive news articles for a 15-20 days. This stands true even without the Covid-19 fear.

When working from home, limit your TV news time. I watch business news mostly and that too for a limited period. Do not let news chatter in the background.

Go for a 15-30 minute walk alone, it will help in reducing anxiety. And get some sun - it does wonders.

There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the "present.” - Master Oogway, Kung Fu Panda.


> If it your first time WFH, the anxiety due to that will pass with time.

This is so true. Switching from being in an office (open plan or otherwise) to being in a small room on your own with only your laptop for company can for a lot of people be too jarring.

Not everyone is cut out for WFH, but currently most do not have a choice. Everyone who is not used to it, will go through an initial period of anxiety as your daily routine has been up ended.

From a work point of view, the most common initial WFH anxiety, is 'how will my boss know I'm still working?' quickly followed by 'am I working enough?' - my advice here is: Don't change your work routine. If your office hours were 9am to 6pm, then stick to that, even though you are at home. Don't be tempted to login earlier or work later. Create a division between work and home life.

Do not sit on the couch with your laptop on your lap or the coffee table - this isn't 'WFH Fridays' where barely anyone does any work. You need a proper working environment. If you can designate a desk in your home to be your 'office' then do that. Organise it as you would your real office desk. Try to position things so that you have natural light.

If you find the silence too deafening, there are plenty of 'ambient' sound channels on YouTube that emulate the hustle and bustle of coffee shops and open plan offices, or even waves on a beach and stormy rain-forests if that's your thing.

Use the newly gained free time that used to be lost to commuting on something that helps your wellbeing, i.e. at 6pm, log-off and do some exercise or have a daily bath.

If you are worried about how your work output is perceived, agree with your boss a way to provide timely updates so that he/she is always informed. Do not be afraid to set Slack/Teams/Skype to 'Do not disturb' if you need to - The downside of people not being able to 'see' you is that impromptu IMs increase and can disrupt your flow.

Try to 'get up' everyday. It's easy to just roll out of bed and sit in front of your laptop in your pyjamas, and not shower every day. Don't do this, it will make you depressed and disconnected. Get up, wash, get dressed (as if you are actually going out) - keeping to your normal healthcare routine will help keep you mentally positive.

In the UK at least, we are not currently locked in our houses, so if you can go out for a walk - even during the work-day. You didn't chain yourself to your desk for 8 hours whilst you were in the office, so why do that at home?

---

I've been working from home for several years now, and although I don't follow all of my own advice, I have navigated around most of the pitfalls. That said, not everyone is cut-out for WFH, so your mileage may vary.


Should you live in a country where that's still on the table and the weather isn't too shabby: if you enjoy that kind of thing, taking a walk in the woods can be pretty calming, leave your phone in the car, no risk of diseases or people there.

Other than that, if you're stuck at home don't use every minute of your WFH breaks to check the news, exponential growth doesn't imply that your situation changes every minute. Make sure to take that breaks in the first place. Maybe reach out to other people in the same situation and have a relaxed chat, just like you would in a non-pandemic cafe setting. Try to find normalcy, hyperfocus on bad news is seldom productive for one's mental stability.


I'm a university professor and since classes are suspended for now, I'm taking the chance to fix some things in my house that were on my todo list. I've just finished putting some cement in some of my bathroom tiles.

Regarding news, I try not to watch too much news on the TV. I also think I'm relatively informed regarding this new virus, and as I'm not in (too much) risk, I try now to worry too much..


Stop looking at or obsessing about news except to gather details. Odds are, you'll be perfectly fine if you prepare and act sensibly, because in reality, all you have or need is you to save yourself.

Keep busy and use time effectively. Practice a skill, write a novel, make something, finish some projects.

I've been through:

- storms with 100 mph/160 kph winds blowing down 200-year-old oak trees, concrete-anchored redwood fences flying through the air like kites and bowing-in glass windows several inches / 10 cm nearly to the point of failure

- Loma Prieta and a myriad of earthquakes too numerous and forgettable

- Enron rolling blackouts

- the Camp Fire

- week-long and longer power outages

- and now a pandemic

I'm probably forgetting some events. All I'm missing on my disaster bucket list T-shirt are volcano, hypercane, locust, GRB, asteroid and tsunami. :)

The current situation is a necessary but major inconvenience is all. Things and life will be better in 6-18 months. It will be OK. There's no point to worrying about things that are absolutely beyond one's own control, while addressing and preparing for things within one's control to eliminate sources of worry.


I'm cautiously optimistic that most of us will get through this crisis successfully, at least here in Scandinavia where solidarity is still a thing (however imperfectly).

What I do worry a little about is the knock on effects; the amplification of existing trends that reduce physical commerce in town centres, driving shops, cafés, etc., out of business.

If we want to have places to shop other than supermarkets and online and a reason to maintain and develop town centres someone is going to have to figure out how to change various tax regimes to make it easier for such places to survive.

In most towns that I visit there has already in the last forty years been a dramatic reduction in the range of goods available and of course this just drives even more people to shop online further reducing the turnover of the local shops.

Of course it could be that we should just let them go out of business and find an alternative way of living.

Other than that, as keiferski says we live in much better times, even with this crisis, than pretty much ever before.


Exercise every day. Get some sleep. Work, particularly if there are some tedious type tasks that you can plow through without thinking too much. Keep perspective. Yes, this is absolutely a rough period, but in time it will pass.

I also play 'worst case scenario' with myself. My wife and I are relatively young, so the odds of us being seriously impacted health-wise are very low. But, worst case would be my wife and/or my parents die. Next level terrible, but it's also a reminder to be talking and present with them every day. It's not making light of it, but accepting this is a worst case from a health stand point.

From an economic standpoint, my company could be forced to close. I could be forced to eventually use all my savings, sell my house, etc... Would that suck? Absolutely. Is it the end of the world? Nah, and it's infinitely better than something happening to the people around me. I started with very little, and would just start again.


If you can't do something about a situation, don't worry. If you can, then do, and don't worry.

Things I can do: wash hands, try not to touch my face, limit contact with the more at risk population and teach my kids to do the same. Things I can't do? Anything else related to covid-19. I can also limit my intake of negative news.


Headspace - Andy's voice and just 10 minutes a day.

Also using screen time to block Safari on my phone and removed social media apps.

Also using /etc/hosts to block news websites.

Only news I get now is through the radio when I'm chilling out listening to Chris Country. That's more manageable than a wall of bad news and horror stories.


Deleted BBC News, Facebook, and Reddit (unfortunately), just skimming HN for cool tech content every now and again.

I'm feeling a lot better. Leaving my apartment, looking at the blue sky and the bustling people on their way to work. Life feels much better, I'm also not checking my phone as often.


Keep a routine. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is maintaining a routine. Include things like tea breaks in your routine. Make sure you're going to bed at the same time, showering at the same time, etc. Most important: schedule when you're going to tune into the news. You don't need to keep hearing the same news over and over and over again all day long. That'll drive you nuts.

Outside of work find something to occupy your mind so you're not just fretting. My thing is guitar. I like having something that's not computer-related I can do. Maybe yours is computer-related like learning a new language or framework. Pick something you enjoy doing and takes a little bit of concentration so you can take your mind off of things.


I am growing a vegetable garden in my apartment and last weekend I stocked up on bleach and disinfected my entire apartment. These two are mostly just to make me feel better and manufacture any sort of semblance of control.

In more useful actions, I stocked up on some food (both canned and frozen) to prepare for self quarantine and/or self isolation. I pulled out my moped and de-rusted the chain yesterday after seeing multiple sick people on public transport, ignoring the advice to stay indoors for anyone who shows symptoms. Now working from home but still quite hard to focus with all of the news. I also have some anxiety, but it sort of comes and goes and just cleaning obsessively for a little while seems to settle it :D


I am trying to remain rational, maybe over-rational. My age group has a low risk, my children almost no risks. Mostly elderly people die, which is sad, but they have lived. There are 4000 cases in my country which is still a pretty low chance of encountering one ... especially since we are almost quarantined. If we follow South Korea methods, we should see the same effects in 2 to 3 weeks.

Second thing is that it has nothing to see with the crises of the XX century, and probably much less serious than what is going to happen towards and after 2050 (huge number of people fleeing their unlivable lands).


When I'm anxious or feeling down, I make a mental "gratitude inventory" in my mind for as long as I can, remembering all my blessings past and present. Does wonders for perspective.


I'll very likely have to fire 14 world-class engineers, OPS, PMs and designers. From the team that I've spent building 4 years. We'll very likely have to kill the product that I've spent all my work and free time working on.

This is gonna be the first time I'll actually have to say "thanks" to people that I consider to be my friends. At the beginning of very likely the worst crisis that the world has seen.

Ruby, Scala, OPS, Machine learning, AI, Angular, fully-remote and distributed...

FML.


I help.

I run a website that helps people figure out life in Berlin in Germany. It covers important topics in plain language.

These days I maintain an overview of the Coronavirus situation in Berlin, and spread correct information in various communities. The government is doing a poor job at propagating information, and most sources are only in German.

Save a few surprisingly hostile people, the response has been very positive. It feels good to be helpful, even if it's only for a few hundred people.


Great positive support!

Nitpick: The official information is clear, simple and plenty, albeit indeed primarily in German language: https://www.infektionsschutz.de/coronavirus-sars-cov-2.html

This is advertised in social media anywhere.

Your site (link?) presumably links to the English documents there as they are updated regularly?


I don't spend much time covering the virus itself. My main concern is to keep people updated about closures, financial support and other things that directly affect them.


- Keep the news-crawling to an absolute minimum and be critical of which channels you choose : fake news, headlines with "numbers" without proper context ... leave all those things behind and try to stick to less "clickbait" news.

- If you can manage it, try to stick to 'business as usual' as much as possible : a lot of Tech-workers càn work remote and with limited face-to-face contact. That doesn't mean you deliberately have to avoid contact, yet I like to limit even online conversations as any discussion these days will divert into a talk about the current Crisis.

- Don't expect to be 'hugely' productive, but it might be a good time to engage in the work you left hanging in recent times. (For me, that's Documentation and such, Ugh!) It will be gratifying to see some of those actions being handled ...

- Keep up with past or new Hobbies / Opportunities : I am not in complete Lockdown here (yet), so I go for a run (alone) in the woods and plains at noon. And I've made a list of stuff that I want to do in the evening : Read some Books, Learn new Programming languages, etc.

- Don't forget about other people : I can get a bit self-centered once I have found a good personal rythm in handling this situation. But I need to remind myself to check in with relatives and friends (through Social Media and other Technology options ofcourse).

- Keep some inspiring Quotes or some calming "mantras" nearby (like on Post-It notes, Screensaver on your Phone, whatever, ...). I tend to find some solace and inspiration in those. My selection of Quotes revolve around ways to keep calm in times of adversity but they might be too pessimistic in these trying times, so I refrain from giving examples and will let you decide the Search Terms for yourself ...

- As I have a family here at home (2 Adults, 2 Kids), it's actually quite easy to get into a "Family-time, long unexpected Vacation" vibe where we : use online platforms to educate the kids (somewhat), do chores in and around the house, spring-cleaning, go on walks for as long as it is allowed, have a nice drink at home once and again, ... We have things like movie-nights with the Kids and they love it.

- Keep a diary on your Experience and write in the Evening as you retrospect your day. Any moments you can recall where you were extremely Anxious? Write it down, and write on how you will cope with it better the next day. Tommorrow is a new day to try to do a better job of it.

Good luck, try to focus on the good, ignore as much of the bad or leave them to be properly examined in your journal.


Thankfully, just few weeks ago, I managed to score a nice set of dumbbells off the craigslist, plus I have set of plates and a bar, other dumbbells, ab wheel + equipment for training arms for rock climbing, that allows me to exercise from my place. For the first time ever, me and my younger brother had a workout session over the Facebook video call.

In last few days, all of the sudden, my girlfriend decided to get in shape, so I'm helping her out.


For me, maybe a bit paradoxically, recognizing the seriousness of the situation helps. This is a big event that has already forced change in my life.

We had to cancel a vacation, could not see our families, cannot go home, took a big financial hit, had to cut many of our hobbies and will not get to see a good friend get married. It's ok if I feel worried, stressed, angry or sad about it. But hope springs eternal and this too shall pass.


I have bin spending time with my 5 kids. We have bin in the yard planting veggys and doing some cooking. It's good but hard to keep your mind of things.


As a socially reclusive nerd I have been training for this my whole life. Finally a chance to show off my skills. You're not getting me, COVID-19!


Saw a meme today: "TIL that my lifestyle is called quarantine"


We've been working from home for a couple of weeks now [Algiers, Algeria]. We're building product, supporting our users - who are students preparing their masters in ML subjects on our ML platform -, answering questions, fixing bugs, and adding tests.

We've most of our machines to work for Folding@Home[0].

[0]: https://foldingathome.org/


I don't watch or trust the news in any way shape or form. Its absolute fear mongering. I've been news free for years and I'm much happier.


Exercise and fresh air, listening to good music, avoid excessive drinking. Watch cool science fiction movies while eating ice cream, read good books. Bake cookies, learn how to cook interesting dishes, call your parents and other distant loved ones. Read Hacker News which is pleasantly free of the hysteria infecting many other news feeds. Don't worry; we'll get through this.


On the anxiety front I've found some mindfulness meditation helpful. Even if it's only giving myself some time to get really relaxed.

I start using Calm about a month ago after having a odd (in that I can't see a directly attributable cause) acute spike in anxiety. Obviously right now its fairly normal to feel anxiety but its good to try to minimize it's affects on you.


My honest answer: We can have peace by learning God's will for ourselves, doing it, and trusting Him. Some think this is silly, but I have learned for myself, so I no longer have to ask others to determine my views on this. You can too. He has promised, if we do our part, peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come. More at my site (no sales or javascript), http://lukecall.net/ , the main link for this part is just over 1/2-way down, "How I learned...". All the best to you.

(Edit: hopefully the site is skimmable. I tried to write that way, so each sentence is like part of a paragraph, but also often a link to more info...)

(Edit: also, things happening now were predicted long ago, for these last days, so we don't need to be surprised, but we can be OK. In the context of climate change and the world in commotion, I wrote my thoughts on that at the page: http://lukecall.net/e-9223372036854581820.html .)

Edit/ps: I've been through plenty: a divorce (and wonderful remarriage), some significant mistakes (aka learning experiences), health problems, economic uncertainty, but with help from family, church etc), and what I wrote at the site is from personal experience, in detail, and one can personally jump around to the most interesting stuff I hope, easily. Some of the content I think applies even if one doesn't follow religion, like about direction in life.


I only believe in the one true Morty


General fears are hard to handle. Anxiety is an urgent energy, but without an actionable object. Do something specific and definite, that is actionable, to direct that energy, and regain a sense of agency.

I've been buying things that will be helpful during a lockdown (that I've been putting off from well before WWC: new phone etc), while the risk is still low.


Personally, I almost quit Twitter. Twitter used to be my online hang-out of preference but now it seems like no one is talking about anything else. The only thing I can do is get away from it before it gets me too depressed/angry.


I've been catching up with a ton of friends who I should really have been chatting with more often all along


A few random ideas, see if any suite you:

- Regarding WFH: maybe you can make a "hangout" video conference to emulate the office a bit?

- do video walls with friends

- try to stay rational (you can't do more than self-isolating, nothing more you can do)

- if you can concentrate on it and have the energy: learn something


Get out of your head and into your body. Fear overrides our sympathetic nervous system. system, I’ve found these exercises reliably reset it:

https://youtu.be/vZUnfPLHpg0

I set a timer and go for 3 minutes.


Shorting the market. If the world's going down the drain, might as well profit from it.


Call your friends and family and make sure they're ok. Talking to others helps you both be less anxious.

Also, see yourself as an observer of the times, not so much an actor. Don't worry about powerlessness, just be glad you can see how things are going.


I'm avoiding most of the clickbait news sources, building more things with my hands (furniture from pallets for the terrace) and spending more time with my family. And I read a lot of fantasy books! That helps.


Regarding WFH I suggest you establish a routine and a calendar. Schedule your wake up time, breakfast time, tv time, working time, gaming time, goofing time etc.

It will help you focus and get you thinking in the task you have at hand.


I tend to work much more on my side-projects than before the crisis hit. Currently this is 20-things.com, and this helps me keep my focus off bad news. It can't get much worse than this, right? Right?


I don't think HN is the best place to ask for the moment. Speaking bad about the corona virus panic and the people creating it will get you many downvotes.

During the current crisis HN felt like a text-only Facebook.


I mean, the worst case outcome is my stock's value goes down by about $10k more. ( I don't count 401k, since short term changes to that are meaningless)

That is largely within the delta of what I chalk up to luck of the draw, when I got my job anyways. So, it is well within expected variance.

I am young, so health is no big deal. I am following protocol, but not worried for myself. Honestly, not that much has changed. People are panicking due to mass hysteria. But, this isn't that bad.

Maybe I used to it. My country has had just as massive dengue, swine flu and bird flu epidemics over the last decade. People died in huge numbers just the same. Just that, the ones at risk were mostly really poor people in a 3rd world country, so no one cared enough to force such a response.

My friend jokes that the only reason this pandemic is so serious, is because it's the only one that seriously affects white boomers. I'm not sure if he is entirely wrong.


Accept that you can only control what you can control.

Focus on your family and your work. Try to tune out the noise. Take solace in that we’re all in this together.


I try to search for news myself, otherwise it will just feel that we are living the reality of one of those doomsday movies.

Which might be true, but going crazy won't fix it.



I have no need to cope, I just see things as they are. I have no wishful thinking, no unfulfilled expectation. I just have moral strength.


Focus on surving. Meditate. Make a list of books to read. Think of opportunities ahead (and there will be plenty one way or the other).


Read up on old much harsher times and you'll realize this isn't so bad after all...Reading click bait all day won't help.


Me and my colleagues have just kept working full steam ahead (from home of course) without much to say about Coronavirus whatsoever.


Keep a routine. Get up, exercise, work, read, etc. Stay busy and try not to let your imagination get the best of you.


Since no one else is saying it: Drinking more.

Yeah, not really good, but this might not be the week to stop sniffing glue...


I accepted all the worst scenarios. Cried multiple times.

Now I can focus on prepping and survival.

To me doing nothing makes me much more nervous than catching up with latest news and trying to save myself and my family.

This is the time to work hard for everyone, it's not the time to go watching netflix and wait for "others" to do the hard work.

You can also try to help with the research projects which are trying to find a drug.


Here’s my personal take:

1. I don’t trust news by default, when I saw something that might affects me, just then I started digging the facts across multiple sources.

2. I don’t share news, even if that could help others, unless I am 100% sure its a factual news.

3. Focus on what I can control, e.g government trying to hide something? Its not like I have the power to uncover the facts and I am not sure either if they’re trying to hide something.

4. Think positively, judge what is in front of you, stay safe by default. Government saying no one is infected with corona yet? Think positively and believe them, and stay safe by self social distancing. Unless you have the knowledge and resources to do research, its gonna waste a lot of your time while you can use it to prepare for your safety and those around you.

5. As for WFH, changes are always hard. Make sure to keep communicating and clarifying things that aren’t clear. Keep notes of anything important. Get enough sunlight, exercise, stay clean, drink enough water.

6. Whatever happens, happens. Remove all negative thoughts, for every hardship, there’s ease and comfort at the end ~ like how its always been (think about a hard problem from the past, and how it can be solved and there we are, still here and strong and learned something).

Best wishes! TLDR; Ignore news by default, stay positive!


I worried a lot. Did the Amazon guy cough on my deliver? Why is my neighbor’s kid knocking on my door?

To solve this, I smoked a lot of weed. I’m out of weed now. Guess I should try to get some work done.


Word of unsolicited advice from someone who smoked weed daily for a number of years. If you already have some anxiety, prolonged consumption will worsen it.


Please keep your unsolicited advice to yourself, because you literally have no clue what my journey is, or what health issues I have.

Here's my word of unsocilited advice. EVERY PERSON'S BODY IS DIFFERENT. When dealing with mental health medication, it's trial and error. What seems to work for one person doesn't work for another. I am under the care of a physician, and the cannabis I consume is prescribed by that doctor, grown in a fully licensed facility, lab tested, and used as part of an overall treatment regimen that got me off of addicted benzos and productive at levels I never saw before.

Keep your advice to yourself.


Fortunately you have medication on hand to deal with the stress of unsolicited advice!


Daycare closed. Nuff said.


Corona is actually GOOD NEWS. I'm not kidding. What the world needs is a severe recession that stops flying, overconsumption, and overworking. The longer the recession lasts the better. It's the only thing that can effectively slow global warming. Climate change is a global threat, coronavirus could be a blessing in disguise.


If you were an alien on a spaceship watching us from orbit - sure. But once things start affecting you it just becomes grim reality. Personally I'm stressed as balls because my mum runs a few retail shops and if the situation doesn't improve rapidly she will literally face bankrupcy. It's hard for me to look at it and say "hey, it's great because it stops overconsumption!". And that's not even considering that she or anyone else I know might get ill and I won't be able to go home because all flights to my home country have been cancelled and the borders closed so even if I had to I have extremely limited options for getting home.

Like, I agree with you in principle - but as a human being, I think your opinion in extremely priviledged and something you can only say sitting behind a computer screen shielded from real life.


Actually I think you are the one with a privileged word view. We know that in a decade or so climate change will come to affect tens of millions of people who will become refugees. Crop yields will fail and lots of diseases much worse than corona will spread.

Tough luck that you can't get fly home but that doesn't affect my main point. International air travel is unsustainable and is KILLING OUR PLANET!

We as a species have two choices; either we let our global economy collapse or we let our global ecosystem collapse. I know what my choice is.


Or we just solve it with any number of engineering fixes, minus the abject human misery a global recession involves.


I actually like humans and prefer that tens or hundreds of millions don't suffer (homeless, starving, stressed, sick, etc.).

I mean, may as well have a small nuclear war and kill 30% of humanity as well if the goal is slowing climate change at all costs.

edit: Btw, your proposal is exactly the sort of thinking that got us in this climate mess in the first place. You're putting your desire (climate change in this case) higher than the overall well being of people. Republicans put their desire (money and business) higher than the overall well being of people (including future people impacted by climate change). Lack of empathy is not something to admire and generally results in everyone being worse off.


Periodic recessions are not really a sustainable solution for environment. The industry will try to catch up and recuperate losses and we'll be where we've started. Plus the investment in green tech will be less of priority in following months.

The one good thing that comes out will be improvements in home office and home education culture. Better tools, more online materials, wider acceptance.


This is also my thinking. There will be a lot of short term pain - can't get around it. But if we look long term, the more I think about it, the more optimistic I get.

3 months ago, in many rich countries, a lot of young talented people were doing "bullshit" jobs that had 0.000001% impact on the results of their company. I don't even mention the fact that many were working on completely useless stuff. This will be a quick adjustement for every company - keep only people you really need. Sure - short term economic choc and governements absolutely need to step in and help people adjust. But long term - this is a great news. It's a brand new world right there - you have a good, idea (not a bullshit app nobody cares about) - go out, there will be plenty of opportunities once the dust settles and governements will help and fund this.

I actually think, this is the perfect time for European Union (and most countries for that matter) to launch huge scale projects - high speed rail in whole Europe, this kind of things. We will have quite a lot of competent workers available, interest rates are 0% for any foreseable future and the benefits for the future would be huge.

Concerning climate - this is the best, by a huge margin, news we've ever heard. I'm eager to see what big cities will look like with 0 traffic.

We already start to see the best in people - young offering help for elders (that they barely noticed until 2 weeks ago). No doubt we will see some of the worst too, but I believe it will be hugely outweighted by the good.

So yeah, this situation is very hard, but as most hard things in live, it definitely can end up as a huge net postive. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.


Yeah, until your parents die and your kid aswell because the IC is overloaded.


That may be the good news, but the bad news is that a lot of people will run out of money for basic necessities like food and shelter. It might have been different if every country had evolved to allow people to survive economically during recessions with something like a basic income but that's generally not the case.


Which tells you how sick our economy is. A virus is spreading which causes people to, no fault of their own, to lose their jobs, homes and go into starvation. Governments around the world are spending billions and trillions to prop up failing stock markets but almost nothing to provide for real people in real need.


Without an economy there is no tax money and without tax money there is no way for the government to help people in need. So then the government prints money which drives up inflation. Eventually society effectively collapses and no one is helped. It's happened before.

So by your own logic of greater good trumps all the economy trumps helping people.


What? I didn't write that having an economy is a bad thing.I wrote that our current global economy is sick and rotten to the core. It urgently needs to be replaced with something that works for all of us rather than the few before it dooms us all.


Replaced with what? Attempt to replace the economy generally just end with a different few controlling things (the new dictator, the party leaders, the rich, etc.). Saying "tear it all down and replace it with magic pixie dust" just ends in mass death.


Is all your argumentation based on straw men?

There are many ways to improve the economy so that it better serves the needs of the majority rather than just a small wealthy elite. That is a fact and does not imply neither pixie dust nor dictatorship.


It's a recession when your neighbor loses their job, it's a depression when you lose yours.


If the last century has taught us anything, is that whatever comes after a severe recession is not something that one should be wishing for.


Let's talk in a year when 60%-80% of the population will have been infected and millions will have died. Maybe you have no one you love who is in the high risk group, but I do.




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