Antidotes for the COVID Blues

Everyone’s personal situation during this pandemic is unique, but it seems like no matter who we are, most of us share this common reaction of feeling boxed in. We may cycle through feelings of anger, depression, helplessness and hopelessness as well. Spending safe time outdoors can provide an effective antidote for these feelings. Getting outside in some capacity helps connect us to the natural world as well as to others. A smile, a wave from a passerby can provide a surprisingly effective mood lift. Outdoor time offers us some normalcy in these crazy times and can open our perspective in a healthy way.

  • Get outside

    Even though Chicago weather has its drawbacks, we are lucky to live in a place where we can experience the seasons. Spring brings change, with different flowers blooming and budding on trees. Summer brings warmth and summer blossoms. You don’t have to be a naturalist to enjoy feeling the wind in your hair, smelling the air around, feeling the sensation of your body moving through the space, seeing the changing skies, and observing whatever you can. Somehow, the rabbits and squirrels and birds are carrying on without a clue about this pandemic. Although uncertainty remains, we can be assured that this crisis too shall pass and we hope to be able to carry on like the animals and plants do.

  • Take a walk

    If you are feeling cabin fever try getting to a forest preserve or nature area (use google maps). An outing can provide some balance and help you to get out of your head head and experience something larger than yourself. Seeing and hearing birds, frogs, turtles, dragonflies and butterflies can be very calming.

  • Take a class

    Of course there are many days when going outside is not possible. Many of us are spending lots of time on computers or electronic devices already, but perhaps there is something different we can do online. A cooking or art class? Try an activity that you can engage in together with someone at home or perhaps with someone in a different home. Or do something just for you. I for one enjoy online yoga classes and there are many other free classes available.

  • Sing

    Finally, singing is a great release. Singing is a natural anti-depressant as it stimulates the release of oxytocin, which is a hormone that alleviates anxiety and stress. Since singing makes you breathe more deeply, you are also increasing your oxygen level and circulation. You can sing alone or with others. For a truly silly experience sing with others on Zoom. Exercise, too releases other “feel good hormones,” called endorphins so that is a great way to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Since it is easy to feel out of control with this Co-vid 19, any small productive activity for oneself or another can counter that helpless feeling.

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