The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many of our lives. It has had a particularly hard impact on the African American community. I’ve seen the effects of this health crisis firsthand — both on a sister who works as a nurse at a local hospital and on friends who have been stricken with this illness. As a community, we must do everything we can to flatten the curve — especially because current data suggest we are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Science and experience show that social distancing is the most important and effective tool we have right now to slow the spread of COVID-19. For most of us, social distancing wasn’t even on our radar a couple of months ago. Now it’s part of everyone’s reality and routine.
Earlier this month, Eli Lilly and Co. joined Gov. Eric Holcomb, Mayor Joe Hogsett and many others to launch a statewide social distancing campaign called #INthistogether. The #INthistogether campaign is designed to unite, connect and empower every one of us to spread the word, not the virus.
At Lilly, we’re bringing everything we can to attack this epidemic in our home state of Indiana and our hometown of Indianapolis. We’re applying our scientific expertise to search for new therapies. We’re offering free testing at our headquarters for frontline workers and other high-risk groups. And we’re collaborating with others in our community to lift up the most vulnerable, as supporters of the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund and the Indianapolis E-Learning Fund.
Still, social distancing remains key to combatting COVID-19. Physical distancing isn’t always easy. It can feel isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. Acclimating to our new reality requires a new perspective — one that not only prioritizes our physical health, but our mental and emotional well-being too. It is important to find new ways to connect socially with one another and to lift up everyone in our community. We can come through this stronger.
That’s the power of the governor’s campaign. It reminds us that we are part of something bigger and #INthistogether. This campaign is a movement with the potential to save lives. It encourages positivity and connectivity through social media. It reminds us to give ourselves grace as we maneuver this new normal.
Here are some steps we all can take.
- Stay connected socially with technology. Offer to help family members who aren’t tech savvy get comfortable with video technology like FaceTime or Zoom.
- Exercise. Even a five-minute walk can help you relax and clear your mind.
- Be flexible. Extend grace to yourself, your family and your colleagues. We’re all trying to figure out how to live, e-learn and work at home.
- Find a way that you can help others and lift up your community. We all have something we can contribute. Call an elderly neighbor. Donate to a community fund.
- Practice gratitude.
- Be mindful of your own thoughts and feelings and those of the people around you, including your children.
- Some of us now have fewer outside activities and commitments. Take advantage of this time. Slow down. Reconnect. Listen.
- Ask for help. We all are affected in some way by what is happening in our external environment. Don’t struggle alone.
I had the privilege of joining several community leaders earlier this month for a Facebook town hall hosted by the Indianapolis Recorder. I encourage you to listen to this archived discussion as it offers practical tips and resources to help us take care of our mental health and well-being during this challenging time — from free testing to counseling services to parish resources.
Let’s continue to support each other and our community as we work to flatten the curve and save lives. We can do this. #INthistogether.
Tiffany Benjamin is president of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation. Learn more about Lilly’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic at www.lilly.com. For social distancing tips and ways to join the statewide campaign, visit www.INthistogethercampaign.com.