We all are in this together. But if we are going to make this easier, we must social distance and wear a mask when in public. This means we need to sacrifice for the well being of all of us. This is the patriotic thing to do.
Before the pandemic, we spent more time outside the home. Going to the mall, or a movie, perhaps dinner was a good thing. It kept all of us occupied, and allowed all of us to distract ourselves. It was a change in our routines. It was important and allowed us to be with other people. Humans are social animals, why many of us are over the pandemic and ready to go back to that normal we all wish we could return to but we will not for some time yet to come. This is why the fall and winter will be especially dreary.
The fact is that people will want to do Thanksgiving and Christmas parties. Halloween is coming, and trick-or-treating is a tradition. Going out with the children is fun. Not this year. So how exactly do you recharge your batteries? How exactly do you change your routine, and keep your sanity? There are a few ways and I will offer some to you because it is critical for your mental health.
Be mindful that if you have the resources to do these things, you are privileged. Many of our neighbors are going hungry and will lose the roofs over their heads. Why? The economic disaster, and the mismanagement from DC. This matters, because when I think about my situation, I am always aware that I am very lucky.
I am here to tell you that these can help you that either starting a hobby or engaging in what you already do. We play fantasy and science fiction wargames. These are Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40K, mostly. We also play a weekly game of Dungeons and Dragons over Zoom. It’s worked far better than I thought, to be honest.
We have always painted our miniatures, but the pandemic means we stay at home all the time. So we have been talking on larger and smaller projects alike. In the meantime, our armies are growing. This will give us more variety when fielding troops. This is good for games.
Finding a hobby you enjoy can cut down the routine of zoom meetings, or going to work. If you are an essential worker, the bar, or going out with friends is not an option. So you need to find other ways. We already had a hobby, but this has become something we are going into with gusto. Why? It keeps both of us sane. It is a nice break from the routine, and we can talk while painting.
It also has another side to it. There is a sense of accomplishment when you bring a model from raw plastic, in a few sprues, to life. Well painted models bring the game to life, and it becomes a far more immersive experience than just gray plastic models. The same can be said about knitting. You have a project that when done is useful. You can take pride in what you did. There is a blanket that is still waiting for me to finish it. When the weather turns colder, I probably will continue with it.
We have also been watching some series on both Netflix and Amazon Prime. I got Curiosity Stream as well since I do like good documentaries. So I do watch those from time to time. It is a nice way to keep the mind engaged with interesting science. Technology and nature programming. I also watch some history, but for that, I do something else. I read.
I have always been a voracious reader. So the pandemic means more time to read. Some are fiction, although the vast majority of my reading is policy, history, and current events. I read because I enjoy it, and I like learning new things. I used to read more fiction earlier in my life, but due to the current situation, I mostly leave that to short stories.
Taking Time Off…and Mental Health
There are days that I still need to take the day off. The pressures of daily life are different from before the pandemic. So yes, sometimes I take the weekend off from any of these pursuits. I sleep, I lounge on the couch and just relax. I sleep, and yes these days I am taking a nap every day. I can, so doing that helps to recharge the batteries for the day.
Napping is a good thing, and it can help if you had a bad night's sleep. Which incidentally, a lot of people are reporting on the pandemic and the political situation. It is important to be able to recommit to your work as you need to. But it is also critical to keep aware of depression. So if you are tired all the time, and seem bored or cannot concentrate on tasks, you may need to talk to a mental health professional.
As a nation, we have a serious issue with mental health. We do not think it can be as serious as it is. We also believe, wrongly, that depression is a sign of weakness. Our medical system is also pretty bad at handling mental health crises and it is an area of medical insurance that is pretty substandard. Sometimes a religious leader may serve the same role, but be aware that mental health may require some medications.
This is where exercise comes in. In a time of pandemic going to a gym is a very risky proposition. So you may want to get yourself an exercise machine for the cold months to come. I bought an under the desk bike and I use it often. However, I also need to listen to my body. If my joints say no more, it means I take a few days off exercise as well. Otherwise, I try to get anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour, at least five days a week. Weather permitting, I go for a walk. The latter is good to break a lot of the routine and give you the fresh air that helps you recharge. I loved my long walks in the spring, for example. However, with the fires air quality is low, so a bike is good.
Do you need to take a day off and just lounge? Do so.
The long game is that we all need to get over it. This is not going to end soon. Nor are we rounding the bend, as the president likes to say. We are about to enter one of the darkest periods in American history. The second wave, if you assume the first one ever ended, is here. There will be death and illness like we have not seen since 1918. We need to be ready to hunker down and avoid doing things that we would love to do. Seeing friends is not going to happen this winter. Or at least it should not.
Part of our mental resilience is to understand where we are and that pandemic changes will last for some time. Assuming all goes well with the vaccine trials, wide distribution will not happen until mid-2021. There is more. We know this is a coronavirus. This is a family of viruses, and some of them have been with us for a long time. Among them, some colds, are in the coronavirus family. This is why the World Health Organization said that this will become endemic. We can expect it to come back and assuming vaccines work, we all need to be willing to vaccinate every year as we do with the flu.
But until we get a vaccine and the therapeutics, we are pretty much stuck at this moment. Realizing where we are going, and what we can expect for the winter is actually a good thing. It helps with the resilience necessary to survive this. While we cannot take time off from this reality, we can take time off and rest. Just do silly things at home, and mix it up.