As the Northern Hemisphere approaches the first winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, we talked with a group of thoughtful people about their strategies for staying safe yet socially engaged. The physical-distance restrictions we've all lived with so far have been mitigated, in part, by easy access to outdoor activities. That will be harder when the darkness and chill of winter arrive. What's your plan?
EAT SMART, MOVE MORE, STAY SOCIAL
During our recent episode on Mental Health and the Pandemic, we asked for strategies from Robin Henderson who offered a three-fold plan for staying safe and engaged this winter: We have to eat healthily; we have to move our bodies, and we have to interact with each other socially. She says digital wellness is more important than ever during this pandemic. And she suggests now may be the time to join an online support group or a book club or class to learn a new skill.
LITTLE MOVEMENTS MATTER
Catherine Stifter tells us we can be moving more at home (and restoring balance and function) by making subtle changes in how we arrange the items we use daily. Having to reach (or bend) for something you use every day will, over time, preserve your range of motion. Small, consistent efforts pay off over time.
GO OUTSIDE ANYWAY AND CONSIDER FOSTERING A PET
Eleven-year-old Maizie B, who lives in New Mexico, says as long as you're smart about taking the proper COVID-19 precautions, there's no reason not to get outside in the winter for some skiing or sledding with friends. And she encourages us to think about fostering a shelter dog or cat — you'll make a new buddy this winter.
CHECK YOUR ANGER, WATCH FOR S.A.D.
Abbot Christopher Jamison is a Benedictine monk who says the fractious nature of our political discourse is not going to go away and cautions us to notice when our initial response to situations is anger. That doesn't have to be the end of our response. And, as the daylight hours diminish, Abbot Christopher urges us to remember that Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) naturally occurs in winter and can be anticipated and helped by reaching out to others.
TRY WRITING A SONG
Using a different part of your brain is a great way to stay engaged. Got a song in your heart just waiting to get out? Joe Newberry reveals how you can try your hand at songwriting. Joe is a world-renowned clawhammer banjo player, guitarist, teacher, and singer-songwriter. He's moved his songwriting classes online and offers practical tips for getting started. (When you win your first Grammy or CMA, remember to give us a shout-out in your acceptance speech!)
GET OUTSIDE, WALK EVERY DAY, & GROW SOMETHING
Amy Dickinson gives advice for a living, so when she talks, people listen. And with good reason. Her advice is sound: Get outside, even in the cold, walk some every day, and watch something grow. She says tending to something that will flower in the winter is especially wonderful for kids.
CREATE SOMETHING NEW. OR SOMETHING OLD-NEW.
Rabbi James Stone Goodman notes we're all feeling "the squeeze" of the current condition with all its abnormalities and he says what works for him is to create something new, or in the Jewish sense, old-new: a serious renewal, such a renewal that you might not even recognize the original any longer. He and his wife, Rabbi Susan Talve, have been unpacking the psalms (old) together in a live-stream (new) each morning with analysis of the text for our time of "squeeze."
EXPLORE AMERICA'S MUSIC: JAZZ
Gwen Thompkins is a writer and radio host who lives and breathes the music of her hometown - there's just no way to get away from great music in New Orleans. We were thinking that this winter might give some of us an opportunity to do some musical exploration and why not focus on jazz, with its full-throated appreciation of the joys and pains of the human experience. Gwen is a terrific guide. Besides writing and reporting about jazz and the men and women who make it, she hosts the radio program Music Inside Out on WWNO in New Orleans. As a starting point, you'll find our COVID Winter playlist on Spotify. Happy exploring!
THINK CREATIVELY ABOUT ZOOM
Allie I. is 12 years old and has been using Zoom to stay in touch with friends and family in inventive ways, such as watching movies together or holding a long-distance baking contest. Allie plans to try some holiday DIY projects this winter and crocheting... and even poetry.
Contact us at HumanCaring@providence.org