One risk of a long quarantine, whether or not you’re working remotely, is slowing down. The brain is like any other part of our bodies. Your mind requires exercise. This can be anything from sudoku to chatting with the local barista, but as the Covid-19 crisis drags on, it’s easy to become passive in response. We’re overwhelmed and can shut down when fewer distractions balance out the statistics.
I’m guilty of that. I’ve been requiring more and more energy to go on social media, to keep up with my email, to do the outward-facing things that I used to find delightful. Heck, I wrote essays like this for a lot of my smiles when I started, and yet I’ve been posting YouTube videos with minimal commentary for a while. Fun and interesting videos, but still.
I pushed my family to get together to sing (over video conferencing) when they couldn’t go to choir and the folk groups they usually did. But I went only a few times before I ducked out. Last week, I forced myself to go, and I had a great time. Sure, it was draining, but the energy at least balanced out if not tipped in favor of going. I plan to do this again.
Now is the time to push yourself. Learn new things, engage in new ways, and keep yourself mentally active. I’ve learned, since Ehlers Danlos began overwhelming my life instead of being a constant undertow, when you give in, it’s that much harder to start up again. Sort of like trying to establish a new exercise routine.
So, here’s my dare: I dare you to take on something new. The attempt doesn’t have to be big; it doesn’t have to be major; it just has to be new.
Intimidated? Think small. Have you ever sewn on a button? Start doing some simple repairs or improvements to your clothing. Don’t just think about solutions…enact them. You never know where the skill will take you. Bare minimum, you’ll be that much more self-sufficient.
Is there something you’ve always wondered whether you’d be good at? Take this time to try. There are a lot of free sites that will teach basic coding if you’ve wondered whether you can. Study WordPress coding. You might come up with the next plugin everyone loves. Or dust off that guitar or harmonica and learn how to make some music.
If you’re working remotely, devote your former commute to the new task. Not working? Try setting aside a specific time. Classes exist for almost everything, and for free as well as paid.
Or take on a game that’s always been hard for you. Teach yourself sudoku, the memory card game, or crosswords. The “what” matters less than the challenge. Keep your brain growing, and you could come out of this downtime stronger and happier with whom you’ve become.
Oh, and a final note? If you don’t like whatever you chose after all, nothing says you must stick with it. The point is to try. You can always try something else. Why not tell us what you’re going to attempt in the comments?
P.S. As he’ll no doubt recognize, my father inspired this post. A little elastic can go a long way, especially if you install it yourself.