The pandemic has been contributing to a sharp rise in anxiety, depression, and even an overall malaise. Sadness, low energy, and decreased motivation are common effects of the current conditions. For older adults, the impact can be more pronounced. Individuals living alone, empty nesters, retired people, or those now working from home often feel more despondent than younger and more connected people. As social distancing drags on, the detrimental impacts often increase. While we yearn for a return to normal, we can still improve our day-to-day lives in the meantime. Maintaining a positive attitude makes a significant difference. Fortunately, there are myriad strategies that can minimize the negative effects:
- Apps such as FaceTime, Zoom, and WhatsApp can be a great boost for the lonely. It is possible to have a virtual party with each remote participant enjoying a cold beverage and a tasty snack while catching up with family or friends, near or far. Making a regular weekly meet time can be especially helpful. An added bonus is having something to look forward to each week!
- Virtual book clubs, game nights, bingo, movie watch parties, and yoga—just to name a few—are all possible to pull off remotely.
- Families and friends can also schedule times to chat remotely--whether it’s catching up with children, grandkids, friends, co-workers, or distant relatives—a strong sense of connection with others is a gamechanger!
- If you clean out your garage or closets, try selling unwanted items on eBay or local on-line tag sale sites. You can declutter while making a little extra money.
- Take a virtual tour! A variety of museums, landmarks, zoos, aquariums, historical sites, etc. are offering free tours from the comfort of your own home. .It's an easy way to escape the same old surroundings.
- Daily yoga, walking, jogging, peddling a stationary bicycle, lifting light weights, and other forms of exercise release endorphins, improve health, and relieve depression
- Join or start a socially distanced exercise class outdoors
- Walk at a local park or through the neighborhood to get fresh air and maybe chat with neighbors while distancing.
- Become an online mentor
- Knit hats, gloves, mittens, and scarves for needy people
- Make and sell crafts and donate the proceeds
- Become a pen pal
- The combination of using your talents and giving back to your community is a strong mood and self-esteem booster.
Try Something New
- Try freelance writing
- Start a scrapbook
- Plant a vegetable or herb garden
- Paint a still-life
- Do puzzles--jigsaw, crossword, sudoku, word jumbles
- Learn to sew or knit
- Try your hand at woodworking
- Bake bread from scratch
Keeping your mind active and challenged lifts your spirits and boosts your brain function as well., especially when learning a new skill. The “silver lining” in this somber time is that without our usual ingrained routines, we have a unique opportunity for new pursuits. We can work on projects we never had the time for, learn new crafts or skills, gain knowledge on a subject of interest, catch up with friends remotely, make a difference, and more. The possibilities are endless. It just takes a creative mind shift to recognize the positive.