Here's some support for anyone struggling with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak. On Sunday, Michelle Obama shared a comforting coronavirus message on Instagram, and encouraged anxious followers to care for themselves and others amid the pandemic. She also shared a slideshow of ways to "show up for your community in these tough times," urging followers to come together.
In her lengthy message in the caption, Obama noted that living through an unprecedented event can cause a lot of emotional distress. "We just don’t have a roadmap for what we’re currently experiencing—that in and of itself can bring up feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and fear," she wrote. The former first lady added that these feelings were compounded by worries over the, "health and safety of our parents, children, and loved ones" and concerns over "financial security." Obama assured followers, "Whatever you’re going through right now, I want you to know you aren’t alone."
The Becoming author also encouraged people find creative ways to support each other during social distancing, writing, "staying close to my community helps me to feel connected and strong." She promised that, "this new normal is something we are figuring out together" and invited fans to share any additional ways that they're showing up (from afar) for people in the comment section.
The former first lady recommended volunteering with a local school to distribute food, as many students experiencing food insecurity rely on school breakfast or lunch. Or, alternatively, she suggested reaching out to a teacher and ask if there's any remote way to help. She also noted that parents might be struggling with how to balance caring for kids full-time at home, and offering to read a story or give their kids a lesson might be another way to help. She also encouraged followers to check online for existing neighborhood programs to help bring food to the more vulnerable, and encouraged ordering takeout from a restaurant for hospital or fire station staff.
Small businesses have been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis, and Obama suggested fans buy gift certificates from their favorite spots for later. If possible, she encouraged sending payments to nail salons, hairstylists, or barbers, who often rely on steady clientele for their income.
During such an uncertain time, many people were likely looking toward the former first lady for reassurance. Before engaging with the community Obama urged followers to, "be gentle with yourself" and take a second to slow down. She wrote in the caption: "It’s okay to take a breath, too. Be gentle with yourself. Log off when you need to, take a break if you can, and let others know when you’d like a little help." As always, Michelle Obama knows best.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.