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Penciling in Life -- Monthly Column by Donald Dean Mace: The Coronavirus -- Addressing Lockdowns

 


The Coronavirus – Addressing Lockdowns

 

 

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc in everybody’s life.  It’s ruined relationships, careers, travel plans, education, you name it—the list is long, variable, personal, shifting and expanding, and a lot of it is interconnected with one thing influencing something else.  There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to discussing the coronavirus and the way it’s touched us, taken loved ones from us, changed our lives, caused us to adapt to new ways of doing things.  What I want to discuss here though, is lockdowns.  Lockdowns haven’t been much discussed—certainly not in the way that they should be--and they are a serious issue for a variety of reasons, in particular, lockdowns effect our mental health.  We are social creatures and abruptly, we’ve been cut off from socializing; we as a species are descendants from hunters and gatherers—movers and shakers, busy bodies each of us in our own ways--and suddenly, we’ve been locked up in our homes.  This has caused most us a great deal of anxiety and depression, and chronic anxiety and depression, unaddressed, can lead to mental health issues.  Though there is an end in sight, and vaccines are slowly moving us towards something more normal, we aren’t there yet.  And until we get back to normal, or whatever the new normal looks like, we need to personally take responsibility for keeping ourselves healthy under these adverse and extreme circumstances.

 Currently there’s no hard number associated with coronavirus related suicides, although the American Psychological Association is concerned.  Due to increased mental and emotional stress, someone with pre-existing mental health issues may develop suicidal thoughts as a result of experiencing fear, anxiety and depression; these feelings can stem from a wide range of experiences, including personal, family, and work-related stress.  That said, we need to keep an eye not only on our health, but also that of our families, friends and co-workers.  According to the Mayo Clinic:      

 During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, you may experience anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness and loneliness — to the point that those feelings become constant and overwhelming. Existing mental health conditions, including severe anxiety and major depression, may worsen. If you're feeling hopeless and having thoughts about suicide, or you're concerned about someone else, learn how to find help and restore hope.

 While my aim in this article isn’t to address suicide, it is something that we need to keep in mind in these trying times.  Most of us, while struggling, will make it through the pandemic.  Unfortunately, there are some that are having a harder time than others, and we need to keep an eye out for them.  If you, or somebody you know, is struggling with thoughts of suicide please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or 911.  If you are outside of the U.S., please find your country’s number and keep it handy. 

 Lockdowns, in various phases, are in force all over the planet.  While they may be necessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus, they’ve cut us off from our normal activities.  Most of these activities are stress relievers.  What I’d like to do here going forward, is to offer you some suggestions that may help you to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that you may be experiencing.  These are things that most of us can do to help break the monotony and boredom of being in lockdown.  I’ll start with my own strategies first. 

 Though admittedly, I’m not the most social of people--this because I spend a great deal of time alone writing and conducting research--I do require social contact.  We all do, in one way or another.  Since communication is so critical to all of us, talking to people is important.  Thankfully, I am blessed to have family and friends in the United States and a friend in Europe, so I talk to them via telephone and Skype.  I go to the places that I can go--of course maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask--places such as supermarkets and other stores that are open, and I take my time, enjoying people watching.  I adore learning, so I occupy myself with online courses that are of interest to me.  I read a lot (this is a great way to go on grand journeys through all sorts of locals and live vicariously through any number of wonderful characters).  I watch movies and binge watch T.V. shows.  I go outside and enjoy the weather, whatever it might be, and appreciate the fact that I’m alive to experience it.  I’ve played the guitar on and off since I was a teenager, and lately, I started playing again (and resurrecting some of the old songs I’ve written over the years).  In short, I look for ways to occupy my mind and my body and try to maintain a positive attitude and try to keep life as normal as possible.

 Everybody’s circumstances are different and there are a lot of strategies out there that people are using to deal with being stuck at home.  Some are generic and some are personal, and there is no one-size-fits-all tactic.  To provide a spread of strategies that might help, I did some research online and queried friends to find out what it was that they were doing to help cope.  Here are some of the things people are doing to get through the lockdown:

 While working from home, enjoy the freedom it offers.  Go on walks through the woods, fields, parks, the neighborhood (whatever is available).  Cook, learn new recipes.  Spend quality time with family and friends (card games and board games are great—Turn off the media and enjoy the interpersonal relationships).  Watch movies or T.V shows with family or close friends (you could even do this while in live, real-time video chat with someone).  Focus on one area of the house and clean and organize it.  Meditate (and if you haven’t learned to do it yet, take a course or read a book on it.), or, just reflect on your life and your experiences.  Listen to music, play interactive games on your phone or computer (there are a lot of games that you can play with others).  Take up a new hobby, learn something like photography--start taking pictures of your family, your pets, your city, town, or nature—get creative.  Learn to paint, or draw, or quilt.  Listen to self-help recordings, or read self-help books.  Start an exercise program.  Start running.  Keep in touch with people close to you by talking and texting.  Do something you’ve been putting off.  Watch or listen to, a lot of comedy. 

 The list is almost inexhaustible.  The point is, to find something that works for you and then do it.  Our greatest gift is our imagination and we were all born with it, and happily we wrapped ourselves up in it as children; employ it now to help you get you through this difficult time and also remember, that the only thing permanent is change, and that this too, shall pass.  The coronavirus has wreaked havoc in all our lives, but we can benefit from adversity.  At some point, the pandemic will end.  Why not come out the other end as a better person, having learned new things, deepened old relationships, sculptured a new you, gained another trade or some new skills, polished up on or reawakened an old talent.  In the end, why not discover that you, through it all, are a winner.

 

 Donald Dean Mace

 

Donald Dean Mace is a widely published poet and writer based out of Arizona. His works frequent Ariel Chart and he writes a column for AC as well.



          


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2 Comments

  1. truly a tragedy that the virus could also harm in other manners. thanks for bringing to light.

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  2. i haven't taken the lockdowns seriously until i noticed the suicide impact, the rates of depression and overall gloominess of people. you are doing a public service.

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