Archived Opinion

Advice to stay sane during the insanity

Advice to stay sane during the insanity

Hannah McLeod, a new writer for The Smoky Mountain News, shares her advice for staying calm and connected during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

1. Check in. This is the opposite of a distraction, but checking in with the reality of our situation has become something just as vital in helping me stay sane. Taking a few moments, even just a few seconds, each day to remember why we’re doing this. It can be easy to get frustrated at the huge changes we’re facing. I have found it helps tremendously to take a moment at the beginning of each day to think about how, by staying home, we are avoiding overcrowded hospitals and risking the lives of those frontline workers; to think about the elderly, immunocompromised and people with pre-existing conditions; to think about the people who have lost loved ones and not even been able to mourn or celebrate their lives properly. That is why we are here. That is why we stay home.

2. Forage. Foraging is a great way to get outside, adventure, play… feel like a kid again. If you’re a rookie like me you may end up walking home with a handful of spring onions, some ramps if you’re lucky, a mushroom or two you will research extensively and ultimately decide not to eat because who knows what it could be, some dandelion greens, a cool rock and a bunch of flowers to brighten up the house. BUT, it’s an opportunity to get outside and learn something new. At the very least, those spring onions will make your ramen noodles look especially gourmet.

3. Reach Out. If ever you find yourself slipping into a boredom induced lethargy, like I often do, remember that literally everyone else has felt, or will eventually feel the exact same way. So reach out to people — friends, siblings, parents, grandparents. Instead of wallowing in your own melancholia, muster up whatever emotional energy you have and check in on someone you care about. Facetime is wildly entertaining with anyone over the age of 50, a handwritten letter would take up a minor portion of your afternoon, but even a simple text can go a long way. Community is difficult right now, but perhaps more important than ever.

4. Try something new. In the normal monotony of daily lives we rarely have the time to try something new. And when we do have time, we tend to choose more familiar, comforting pastimes. Take this opportunity that we have away from normal daily life to try new things. Once a week, or everyday, make a new food, do a different kind of workout, practice another language, paint, write, make music, or invent a novel cocktail after a long day of quarantine. Amidst all the uncertainty, familiarize yourself with something new and different.

5. Lastly, be easy on yourself. This is a really weird time that few people saw coming. Practically every aspect of our lives has changed. Not a single movie, of the hundreds that exist about pandemics, prepared us for what life would actually be like during this. Thanks, Hollywood. Turns out there's a lot more people experimenting with making sourdough bread and pickling strange things than running away from zombies and trying to make a vaccine. So don’t fret the days that aren’t productive, the days you eat or bake a cake for no reason, the days you don’t change out of your pajamas. Be aware that it’s happening and try again tomorrow.

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