As we approach a second consecutive pandemic winter, I’m picking up the vibe that many folks are experiencing trepidation about how they will weather yet another round of being cut off from the usual hustle and bustle of life as we once knew it.
There is no shortage of advice that can be found in self-help publications and tips by psychologists on survival techniques for coping with the pandemic when stuck at home.
Although Twitter has been much-maligned of late for the divisive political rhetoric that has a become a staple of this social media platform, there is more to discover there than just sarcastic, hostile and threatening tweeting.
For example, Shannon Watts (@MomsDemand) who is the founder of Moms Demand Action – a grassroots movement of Americans demanding reasonable solutions to address our nations culture of gun violence, recently tweeted to her 300,000-plus followers: “Eight months of being at home. [Any] tips on staying mentally and physically healthy, especially during the dark days of winter?”
She received more than 1500 comments! I thought I’d share just a few that I curated from the massive response. Many of them reinforce what we are already familiar with – get plenty of fresh air, take long walks or hikes, stay hydrated and have a daily routine, for example. There were many more, though, that you might not readily find in publications like Psychology Today.
For example, @brettbum had lots of ideas. He advises, “Use a blue light at the breakfast table to replace a little of the lost sunlight. Buy or grow some flowers and plants. Both cleans the air and brings life to your digs. Keep lots of chewing gum in the house to avoid eating everything.”
Then, @sironontheriver reflected, “We cleaned out a bunch of junk from [our] house. Also, a lot of gardening. YouTube Zen videos help. Write letters.” Sticking with the gardening theme, @VidProducerGal, recalled “This spring we bought an AeroGarden and grew tomatoes and herbs indoors. I got excited anytime there was a sprout of green!”
Next, @super_girl_kara offered some of the more meat-and-potatoes advice that we have become accustomed to, yet bears reinforcing: “Walking outside every day. Hard limits on screen time (no phone in my bed, no phone during meals). Half an hour a day reading from a paper book. Alarm on my watch to remind me to drink water every hour.”
Quite a few posters commented on the benefit of their particular birth status in surviving the pandemic. For example, @MichLovesMoney said, “I’m an only child. I have a lifetime of learning how to entertain myself.” And, @judithpoirier4 seconded that by stating, “Me too. Being an “only” makes you self-reliant and innovative.” It is noteworthy that I didn’t see any eldest or middle children citing their birth order as a qualification for survival.
Commenting further on the benefits of the great outdoors was @JohnJTerrible who tweeted: “Never underestimate the value of a good long walk [or hike]. At least a mile, preferably two. And while you’re out there, take some good long deep breaths. Get that musty indoor air out of your system, clear your head.”
Some folks, like @mscheryl58, were eclectic in their approach: “Put on music and dance, dance, dance. Fill your meals with legumes, whole grains, veggies and fruits. Set up routine Zoom calls with friends and family. Order a yoga DVD. And use it every day.”
The next tip by @RhondaOneOneillRN caught me by surprise, yet had several adherents. She tweeted, “Start birdwatching. I placed multiple bird feeders outside my windows and bought identification books and apps. Amazing how much joy watching these little creatures can bring. My favorite is a pair of red-breasted nuthatches that visit daily. I’ve named them Zorro and Zippy.
Soon thereafter, @woofyjul responded to Rhonda by stating, “My grandchildren and I saw a Ruby Crowned Kinglet for the very first-time last week. Beautiful little bird!” And, not to be denied her two-cents, @SarahCDoyle9517 pitched in by tweeting, “We did this too and have enjoyed it immensely. Bird nerd all day long.”
Finally, to round out this summary recitation of everyday pandemic survival advisors, @wendylarz tweeted, “It sounds corny, but practice gratitude. Every day, verbalize to yourself what and who you are grateful for.”
Andrew Malekoff is a New York State licensed clinical social worker.