This has been a difficult time for many. Most of us have been masking, social distancing and serial hand washing for more months than we care to count. We're tired. We're scared. We miss "normal" life. Yet, COVID-19 cases continue to rise just as temperatures fall and it's more important than ever to be careful and safe.
Those of us who live in chilly climates have bid farewell to temperatures conducive to outdoor meetings, play dates and other small gatherings. We face the annual specter of shrunken hours of daylight, coupled this year with the inability to regularly see family and friends.
How will we get through the winter with such limitations on social and familial gatherings? Here are a few strategies I plan to employ. Feel free to borrow any that appeal to you, and please add your ideas in the comments.
1. ONLINE GAME DATES I am so happy that I don't live alone. I have my husband and my mom to talk to and play the occasional game of Sequence, Skip-Bo or Cribbage with. But there are times when it's beneficial to see and interact with additional people. We have held several virtual family game nights with our three adult kids and their families. There are several free online bingo games that are easy to use. We've played Farkle (a dice game) from afar. There's the free app, Houseparty. You can play a wide range of games within the app. Let me know if you find other good (and free) options. I'd love to hear about them.
BAKE AND/OR COOK The act of baking and cooking is a therapeutic exercise for me. There's something about taking raw ingredients, combining them and turning them into something delectable that calms me and makes me happy. Plus, it makes my whole house smell good, and since this is where I spend 95% if my time these days, that's important. Plus, plus, baking and cooking yield something delicious to eat. Now, if I eat everything I bake (I REALLY like to bake) I won't be able to squeeze through the door when it's finally safe to venture out into the broader world again, so I gather the goodies into small packages and disperse them to friends and family. I've also done this with large batches of soups and bread.
SCATTERED SCAVENGER HUNT If you and your friends or family live in the same area, you could do a scattered scavenger hunt. Simply identify a variety of places that participants need to visit, like parks, buildings or coordinates (they should be accessible without having to go into a building). You can give participants addresses or coordinates or clues that they have to decode. Then send out the clues, but put them in a different order for each household. (This will help with social distancing.) Set a time for everyone to meet up online and share your results. You can require photographic evidence or go on trust. Ask people to share their funniest stories about their searches.
DANCE I will find time several times a week to play music, loudly, and dance. I will be silly (because I can't not be) and as expressive as I can be. Not only will this movement help burn a few calories, but if done long enough and with enough vigor it will trigger an endorphin release that will boost my mood.
MINI PERSONAL RETREAT Even though I'm sure your family is just as wonderful as mine, sometimes we need time apart to process, decompress and reenergize. (This used to be known as vacation and is something that will become possible again, hopefully sooner rather than later. But I digress.) I plan to rent a tiny cottage at a retreat center for two or three nights this fall. It will be just me, my laptop, journal, walking shoes, warm clothes and food. Oh, and disinfectant wipes, too, just to be on the safe side. Once there, I will spend time writing, walking the trails, thinking my thoughts and feeling my feels. Hopefully when I return home, I will be refreshed and ready to resume my life productively and optimistically.
The bottom line is, hang in there. We are close to the approval of a very promising vaccine. Stay safe and stay well. The world needs you.