On Your Health

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How to Enjoy Important Moments During the Pandemic

Do you know what day it is? How about which month? Did we already have Thanksgiving or is it coming up? What happened to summer? For lots of us, pandemic life has some crystal-clear parts and also some blurry spots.  Time may feel fluid. Celebrations, which help us mark the passing of time are inconsistent. Some are scaled back and made ‘COVID friendly’ and some are cancelled altogether.

While 2020 may be the strangest year we’ve ever lived through, the day-to-day is marked by sameness. According to, “The Year of the Blur,”  a recent piece in The New York Times, “It’s not entirely an illusion. Without the usual work mixers, festive holiday celebrations, far-flung vacations or casual dinners that typically mark and divide the calendar, the brain has a harder time processing and cataloging memories, psychologists say, and the stress of the year itself can shift how our brains experience time.”

Of course, modifying our lives right now is a necessity. Until there is a widespread, effective vaccine, safety means curtailing gatherings and staying home as much as possible. But with a little creativity, you can still mark life’s important moments, celebrate holidays and birthdays, and add some seasonal activities to your calendar. Doing so is as important as it is fun. 

Rituals bring us a sense of familiarity. They reassure us and help us cope with loss or share joyful events in our lives like births, holidays, graduations or anniversaries. We tend to like rituals because they help us feel anchored, calm and part of a community. 

 

Day to day tips:

Go with the flow. Some days may be hard, others may feel just fine. That’s absolutely as it should be. Feel what you feel, and if you’re having a hard day, know that it will pass. Try to identify and use self-care techniques when you need them. Write in your journal, take a soothing bath, listen to music, take a walk or call someone for a chat.

Do your normal thing as much as you can. People love routine. We like to know what to expect, and when. Maintaining a routine or schedule is a good way to create a feeling of control in an otherwise chaotic time. What did your routine look like before the pandemic? How can you adapt to the new normal while still including some of the activities that make you feel like yourself?

Did you close out your week with takeout pizza and a movie? Great. Keep doing that. If your routine included dining in a restaurant, choose takeout instead. 

Was a Tuesday night yoga or Pilates class part of your routine? Instead of attending class in a studio with others, stream a class. Many studios offer live-streamed group classes, which will allow you to enjoy the ambiance and instructors you enjoy from the safety of your home.  

Reach out when you need to and check in on others. The great thing about reaching out to people is that it makes both parties feel better. 

 

COVID-19 safer’ holiday gathering tactics you might want to try:

Create intentional moments to mark specific events.

We can and should celebrate holidays and dates that are important to us and which bring us joy. That said, we must also be mindful of the health and safety of ourselves and those around us. Ideally you would ‘gather’ online, via Zoom or FaceTime. That’s the very safest. 

Tips for online or alternate gatherings – the safest.

Celebrating together, while not actually in the same place, can be fun and fulfilling. It just may take a little extra legwork.

For dinners or dining events like Thanksgiving, consider coordinating an online recipe swap beforehand. All ‘attendees’ can then cook and enjoy the same foods whether they are next door or out of state. 

If your usual gatherers are in the same town, perhaps one person cooks the traditional main courses, sides and desserts, portions them into individual containers and drops them on family members’ or friends’ porches.

When it’s mealtime, set a place for your laptop and Zoom or FaceTime with your crew. Yes it’s different, but remember: it won’t be forever. With the right mindset, it can be an adventure, not a hardship. You can even sing holiday carols together via Zoom!

After lunch or dinner, choose a holiday movie to watch or stream at the same time, and keep a Zoom meeting open so people can pop in and chat as you would in the same room.

 

Tips for gathering in person – less safe.

The CDC suggests we consider the following when making plans. View the full list here

Community levels of COVID-19 – Check your state’s positive rate. For Oklahoma, you can easily check it here.  Higher levels of COVID-19 and community spread are important to consider. The higher those are, the greater the chance your event could be a source of infection to your guests.   

Indoor gatherings are not as safe as outdoor gatherings. If you can, have your gathering outside. Bundle up if it’s chilly and serve warm beverages.  Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings.  

The duration of the gathering. Longer gatherings are riskier than shorter ones.

The number of people involved. The more is NOT the merrier when it comes to pandemic safety. Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. While the CDC does not recommend a specific maximum number, your state, county or city might have limits in place.

The locations attendees are traveling from. Attendees who travel from different places bring a bigger risk than attendees who live in the same area. You neither want to bring COVID-19 into your gathering, nor send it home with your guests.

And finally, remember: Nothing lasts forever. This will change. One thing is for certain. Human beings are resilient. We’ve lived through wars, plagues, famines, natural disasters and, yes, other pandemics, and we will get through COVID-19. It may not always be easy, but we can do it. You can do it.

 

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