G. Gregory Tooker
“Waiting, waiting,” sang Jim Morrison of the Doors, “...waiting for the sun.” That is how so many of us feel these days, as we mark time waiting for the end of the pandemic, yearning to return to life as we once knew it. But most of the globe remains in a state of suspension as progress to achieve herd immunity has been painfully slow. Illogical reluctance to receive proven vaccines plus logistical challenges to deliver the life-saving medicine to third world countries leaves mankind treading water far from shore.
It is indeed a challenge to sustain positive thinking in the face of such frustration. Adding to worries about emerging COVID variants, international conflict, climate change and economic hurdles weigh on the mind. During your writer’s discussions with family, friends and neighbors encountered in recent months, they have shared tools they have employed to distract from worry and negative thinking while negotiating the seemingly endless pandemic gauntlet.
Most often mentioned is outdoor recreation such as running, walking, biking, swimming and other exercise, including yoga. Tai Chi is especially popular among older, less mobile folks. The slow, stretching movement in combination with mind-relieving meditation reduces stress and helps one relax. Gardening is another activity growing in popularity. Community vegetable and flower gardens are popping up in many towns.
Lest we not forget another most effective pandemic diversion, conduct a quick experiment on yourself. Honestly tally the number of hours you spend a day/week on your smart phone. Divide that number by 2 and re-channel the calculated time to relaxation with a good book. Americans have gotten away from the reading habit, with spoon-fed entertainment easily available at the push of a button or voice command. We need to rediscover the joy of recreational reading.
Bottom line, there are many healthy activities that will get your mind off the marathon newscasts and social media posts that breed pessimism and create depression. Find one that appeals to you and make it a daily habit. An hour or two spent in a quieter environment, enjoying nature and fresh air can magically restore one’s sense of purpose and optimism.