Back in the spring, you may have been able to put on a brave face and gear down for a month–or two–or three–of social restrictions. But now, in autumn where mask-wearing and social distancing is still part of the fabric of life, you may wonder whether pandemic fatigue is inevitable. Although it may be counterintuitive, it is possible to stay vibrant and healthy even during a marathon such as this.
First of all, try to plan at least one activity a day that you can look forward to—something that’s easy to do if you are a Sunshine resident as many communities still offer a full day of exercise classes and other activities . Nevertheless, if you live alone, there are still many ways to keep yourself entertained, such as:
- Cooking a special treat
- Giving yourself a facial
- Bird watching—even if only outside your front window
- Reading your favorite authors
- Watching a comedy or a Livestream musical concert
- Taking an online class
- Singing along with the radio
- Dancing in your living room to CDs or YouTube videos
What to Do When You’re Feeling Blue
Another piece of advice is to set aside some time to take extra special care of your body. Follow the basics--get enough sleep, eat well, and stay physically active. Although overindulging in TV, smoking, eating junk food, or drinking too much coffee and alcohol may be tempting ways to manage uncomfortable feelings—they only give temporary relief at best. Instead, have a look at these short YouTube videos on how to work with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty during the pandemic. Also, consider taking up deep breathing or meditation. (Meditation apps like Headspace or Calm can help keep you grounded.) Sunshine residents have the option of chilling out in a socially distanced yoga or Tai Chi class or attending online church services in their community’s theater space.
Getting out of yourself and helping others is another way to feel connected. If you live in a Sunshine community, speak to your Life Enrichment Director about on-site charitable projects like cookie drop-offs to local first responders' stations. Otherwise, your local volunteer center can point you to opportunities like phoning isolated seniors.
You can also beat the blues by interacting with family and friends by using Zoom or social media. (If you’re new to the online world, check out Next Avenue’s Video Chat Services, From A to Z article—or, if you’re a Sunshine resident, on-site staff can help facilitate a video-call. They can even provide a smart device if you don’t have one.)
One more tip: Consider writing down your bedtime and amount of sleep, food intake, exercise, mediation, phone calls, and activities, and noting how you felt afterward. This way you may discover that getting out and listening to the birds in the morning calmed you down while binging on Netflix left you feeling exhausted the next day.
Whether you opt for a health journal or not, please don’t keep your feelings to yourself if you are feeling down. Reach out for support from loved ones, friends, or your healthcare provider. Sunshine staff can also offer a listening ear and, if needed, they can direct you to community resources like 2-1-1. Should your feelings be overwhelming, you may find relief by calling the Disaster Distress Helpline, which is open 24 hours a day, at 1-800-985-5990.
Do remember that the pandemic won’t last forever. In the meantime, though, given the uptick in COVID-19 cases, you really do need to keep socially distancing and wearing masks—but along with this, make sure you prioritize your spiritual, emotional, and physical health.