cooped up during COVID
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Recently, more and more of my friends are starting to feel the strain of being cooped up during COVID-19. For instance, I have one friend who is single.  He misses the ability to have friends over for dinner or drinks.  These days, he feels quite lonely because he is unable to see his friends regularly and in-person.

By contrast, I have another friend who lives with her husband and son in a city apartment.  Their tight quarters usually are not an issue since her husband normally works at an office, and her son goes to school.  However, since the pandemic started, her husband is working from home, and her son is attending school online.  So, the three of them are cooped up, 24/7, in a small apartment.  After 6 months of this, all their nerves, understandably, are getting frayed.

Whether you are living with people, or you are on your own, the pandemic restrictions are challenging.  It is no small wonder that so many people want to say, “The heck with it,” and go back to normal life, regardless of the risks.

Unfortunately, we aren’t out of the woods yet with respect to the pandemic.  So, mask wearing, social distancing and aggressive handwashing are things that we will be doing for the foreseeable future.  Similarly, being cooped up at home is something that we also need to get used to until they find a vaccine.

The good news is that there are ways to make the isolation of the pandemic a positive experience.  It simply takes a shift in attitude.  Below are ways that you can make the most of being cooped up during COVID.

Have A Purpose During The Pandemic

Many people struggle with the isolation of the pandemic because they aren’t doing their normal activities.  Dining out, clothes shopping, and going to the gym are activities that one can do on only a very limited basis these days.  Previously, those kinds of activities filled up our free time.

As a result, due to the pandemic, most of us have more free time on our hands these days.  The challenge is to use that time productively, rather than lamenting about how you can’t go to your favorite restaurant.  The way to do that is to have a Pandemic Purpose.

Set some goals to accomplish with your new-found free time.  For example, many people are using their free time to adopt healthier habits.  Where I live, our development’s walking paths are being used more than ever with folks trying to adopt better exercise habits.  At our house, my husband has gotten back into long distance biking, and I have been doing one hour of yoga every morning since the pandemic started.

You also might consider learning a new skill.  For instance, with your free time, you could learn a new language.  Or, you could learn a new cooking skill.  Many folks have taken up bread making during the pandemic – a wholesome and tasty endeavor!

The key is to use your new-found free time in a way that is positive.   Yes, we could spend our time being frustrated by the current situation.  But the far better approach is to see our new found free time as an opportunity for self-improvement.

While Cooped up During COVID, Take Advantage of Technology

It is hard not to see family and friends in person.  And with the holidays coming up, it is especially difficult to not be able to visit with those relatives who are more vulnerable to COVID, and who truly have to be under quarantine.  As a result, it is more important than ever to take advantage of technology.

Video chatting is a great way to connect with people who you can’t see in person.  I’ve been using Facetime with friends over the past couple of months, and Zoom every week with family.  These video chat services are all free.  And it makes a huge difference to be able to have a “face-to-face” conversation, as opposed to emailing or texting.

If you have older family members who simply can’t figure out video chatting, email also is a great way to stay in touch.  Almost everyone has an email account and access to a computer.  Email is a great way to check in on folks and let them know that you are thinking about them.

So, while we can’t see those we love as readily as we would like, we can take advantage of all that technology has to offer.  Use video chatting, emailing and texting.  They are wonderful ways to stay connected safely.

Develop a Spiritual Practice

Part of the challenge of the pandemic is that it has left many people feeling hopeless.  Our way of life has changed almost overnight.  We have gone from freely going about our business to wearing masks in public, social distancing and facing travel restrictions.  It has been a major adjustment for folks.  And presently, there is no end in sight.  As a result, some people understandably are feeling depressed or hopeless due to all this change.

That is why it is more important than ever to develop a spiritual practice.  In fact, I find that the people who mentally suffer the most from the isolation of the pandemic are those who have no spiritual practice.  Without a faith or spiritual practice, it is easy to feel like life is random and without meaning.

If you are suffering mentally from the pandemic, I would encourage you to develop a spiritual practice.  It matters little which one.  All the major religions – Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism – offer wisdom and comfort in difficult times.

Take Advantage of Zoom Services and YouTube Videos to Reignite Your Faith

For myself, these days I take great solace in my Christian faith.  My Sunday morning Zoom church service is the most important hour of my week.  The sermon and the hymns remind me of what is important: being kind and serving others.

And when the pastor discusses historic events in the Bible, it reminds me that what we are going through now is really a small blip in history.  Humanity has gone through difficult times in the past, and undoubtedly, we will go through difficult times again.  The issue is how we deal with those difficulties.

So, if you are feeling the strain of being cooped up or isolated, I encourage you to reignite your faith.  Read inspirational books.  Listen to spiritual podcasts or videos.  For example, one of my favorite Buddhist meditation teachers is Tara Brach (tarabrach.com).  I encourage you to try one of her YouTube classes.  They are both calming and thought-provoking.

Being cooped up during this pandemic is a challenge for many.  If you are feeling hopeless or depressed by the lifestyle changes that have come with the pandemic, I encourage you to try some of the approaches above.  If you do, you may surprise yourself.  This difficult period may turn out to be one of the most productive and positive periods of your life.  (To read about the ways in which our children are learning valuable life lessons from the pandemic experience, click here.)

Email: meerabelle@meerabelledey.com

To receive my free e-book, “The Confidence Course,” and my weekly newsletter, visit meerabelledey.com.

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