This is the first in a series on how business owners and citizens can help weather the COVID-19 crisis.

Travel and service industries, such as ours here at the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, have witnessed some of the most profound and immediate economic effects of this devastating COVID-19 pandemic. 

It's easy to gravitate toward imagining a "worst-case scenario" situation playing out over the next few weeks or months. And it's hard not to stay immersed in the round-the-clock deluge of news coverage feeding our fear and uncertainty.

But there are some effective methods we can use to help weather this storm together and perhaps emerge even stronger on the other side. Let's explore a few ... 

"Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Viktor E. Frankl

1. Choose a better response. 

Regardless of the global effects of COVID-19, each of us still has the power to choose to remain positive, to be creative, to be kind and generous, to be useful. Not everything is out of our control. This is a great time to harness our American ingenuity and resiliency, because how we individually choose to respond over the next several weeks will likely play a key role in how quickly and fully we recover. 

If you're an employee, ask yourself, "How can I create value for my employer right now?" You may have a creative strategy, plan or operating procedure that will help secure the future success of your organization. Don't underestimate the contribution you can make right now, wherever you are. 

If you're a business owner, ask yourself, "How can I create value for my customers right now?" Keep in mind these may be future customers. You may, for the first time in a long time, have the margin you need to implement some of those "someday" plans for streamlining your procedures, organizing your facility and finances, and preparing to better serve your customers when they return in full force.

If you're a caregiver, ask yourself, "How can I add value to those I'm serving right now?" Children in particular may not be able to adequately verbalize their feelings about what's happening. But make no mistake, it is profoundly affecting their worldview. In what ways can you be a calming influence? What activities/rituals can you employ at home to help them grow, while encouraging a sense of security and normalcy? 

2. Create a countdown. 

It's vital that we all look to the future - a time when we can get back to our normal way of life! This is the essence of hope - a feeling of expectation that continues to drive each of us to wake up and make a meaningful contribution with the day we've been given. 

Consider posting a visual "COVID-19 Countdown" somewhere in your home or office. This is the number of days to make it through before normalcy starts returning. For our organization, we chose 14 days from March 16, based on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's directive for businesses. Each day, the number reduces.  Although we're all aware that this "C Day" may be a moving target, it helps remind us there will be an end to all this in the near future.

3. Limit your toxins; increase your tonics. 

The media remains a vital tool in delivering important information to us. But allowing ourselves and our family members to be exposed to a mostly negative, 24-hours news cycle is likely not healthy. Consider limiting your intake of news to once in the a.m. and once in the p.m. for about an hour total.  

Also, spending more time at home should give us all an opportunity to make better choices for our health. Consider exploring healthier, balanced meals for your family. Also look at other tonics that can help keep you and your loved ones physically and mentally sharp. Getting some exercise outdoors in the fresh air will help provide some perspective. Although facilities are closed, park trails throughout the Raystown Lake Region remain open. 

Perhaps it's a good time to start preparations for your garden and outdoor entertaining areas. Using essential oils, reading a good book, playing board games and just having some good, old-fashioned conversation (not related to COVID-19) can all contribute to a healing environment as well. 

Next in the series: Some specific survival tips for restaurants, retailers and lodging businesses in the Raystown Lake Region