COVID-19 is the first crisis since World War II to rock almost everyone’s world almost everywhere. It’s unsettling, and we worry about what the future holds. Life feels dark. Unhealthy emotions run the gamut, from despair to overwhelming anxiety. Some of us are effectively locked and isolated because we test positive for the virus, and more of us so we don’t test positive. It’s understandable to feel lonely and helpless because of social distancing, or even if you happen to be in circumstances without it. But, I assure you, you can do something about this.

Heal by Healing

Social distancing is our most potent weapon to slow COVID-19’s spread right now, so take it seriously. But, social distancing can be counter-intuitive to everyday life because social contact is a human need, not simply something we like. Without it, we crumble mentally, which leads to depression, which leads to apathy and resignation – exactly what we don’t need. But, you can do something about this.

There’s never been a generation better prepared for distant socializing via social media, Skype, text, telephone etc. Never before have we been so able to stay socially close while being physically distant, and it never has it been more important. Because contact is vital to emotional health, when we reach out, we help ourselves as we help others. Virtual presence will not only make you feel better, but may be the healing someone needed when you reached out.

Make a point to reach someone “outside” some way at least daily, and via face-to-face app at least every two or three days – in groups and one-to-one. Post on social media, follow your favorite blogs regularly, and keep your perspective wide. While it’s natural to talk about the pandemic, for mental health it’s just as important (maybe more) to focus on interests, passions, jokes, shared memories and dreams about the next ones.

You’re a diver, so an obvious interest tie is with divers and your dive shop. We are a powerful, passionate and dedicated community, alive with the power of the human spirit – so tap into it and contribute to it. If you’re able to dive safely right now (ensuring you’re following recommendations by your local authorities), please share your adventures – it’s therapeutic for the rest of us. If you can’t, talk, text and post responses about what others are up to. Reach out to your PADI Dive Center for ways you can stay connected to your local dive community from afar. Our mutual love for the underwater world unites us, and makes us ideally suited to weather this crisis by supporting each other, lifting each other up and caring for each other. Do this well, and you’ll even make new friends and dive buddies.

Keeping Yourself Safe Keeps the Community Safe

Nothing is more important to the PADI family than your safety and the safety of divers around the world, so please follow the self-protection steps advised by the World Health Organization (WHO), and cooperate with local authorities’ efforts. Doing so not only helps to keep you healthy, but is integral to slowing the spread of this pandemic both locally and globally. For those in areas where diving is still advisable, there are steps we can take as divers to reduce disease transmission risk – see this post from DAN, for example.

Eyes on the Light

This pandemic is a dark tunnel, but I assure you, there is already light visible at the end – not as bright and nor close as we’d like yet, but it’s there. Consider, as I write this:

  • There are more than 30 vaccines and at least eight treatment drugs in development.
  • Test availability is expanding rapidly in many regions.
  • At least two countries seem to have topped and leveled the local pandemic curve, and regions in other countries may have as well.
  • China’s manufacturing might has rejoined the US and is ramping up test kit, masks and other vitally needed medical supply production.
  • People are getting creative in finding solutions. Check out this link.  The manufacturer of a snorkel mask rapidly adapted its product for use with respirators.

And the list goes on. This doesn’t mean be Pollyanna – things are serious, and we have a long way to go. But, you have the power to look at the light instead of the dark, take the positive view and take things one day at a time.

As I’ve said, we will overcome this pandemic. We will thrive again. Let’s leverage distant socializing to stay connected, pay attention to the progress to stay realistically optimistic, and nurture our love of the ocean to stay united in Seeking Adventure and Saving the Ocean.

Stay well, connected and committed,

Drew Richardson
President & CEO PADI Worldwide

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