Five Things That Have Carried Me Through the Pandemic
Coffee, and walks and books… yes please!
It’s been nearly two years since the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared a pandemic. Since then, we’ve all had to navigate various waves and lockdowns and masks and vaccine rollouts. One thing has remained consistent, though: wondering when we’re going to “return to normal.”
In fact, I have a hard time remembering what the “before times” were like (is anyone else totally over living through an historical event?). But I do know that I, like many of you, have experienced my own ups and downs, hope mixed with despair mixed with frustration mixed with determination.
Here are five things that have given me a sense of purpose, joy, and a feeling of control and have carried me through the pandemic.
1. Morning lattes.
Most weekday mornings, I wake up, get my little guy ready for school, and head out the door. Upon my return to a very quiet home (where I’ve been privileged to work since March 2020), I make myself a simple breakfast, which includes a morning latte. There is pleasure in the process: brewing the espresso, frothing the milk, and sprinkling some cinnamon on top. The drink itself doesn’t really matter – it’s the grounding feeling this morning ritual provides. It’s something I look forward to when I go to bed each evening; a little burst of joy to help kick-start each day.
2. Daily walks.
Before I get my daily latte routine underway, I walk. After morning school drop off, and when the weather is mild, I do a lap around the block. I close my eyes and let the sun hit my face, give a little wave to neighbours who are doing the same, smile at the dogs keeping watch from the front windows of their homes, and breathe in deeply. The benefits of getting outside into nature are many, including better mental health. Physical activity itself can also be a lifesaver, including increasing heart health and energy, improving sleep, and providing much-needed social interaction during a time when lockdowns have become a way of life.
3. Well played memes and gifs.
When the pandemic began, I made a point of reaching out to friends and family to check in. But as it wore on, and the news became more dire by the day, and the stress of working a high-pressure job and homeschooling collided, I just didn’t have the energy or mental stamina. (I’m sure many of you can relate.) To help keep connected, I found joy in memes and gifs. Juvenile, maybe. But a properly placed meme can break the monotony of the Groundhog Day we’ve been living in for almost two years while adding a little humour and maintaining those vital social connections. From the meme that perfectly conveys the obsession with Wordle* to one that perfectly describes the angst of Zoom meetings, they are a welcome relief to the reality we continue to live in.
While screen time has been accused of being the devil, it became a necessary evil as we navigated the ever-changing pandemic landscape. Whether it was endless Zoom meetings or virtual learning, we couldn’t escape the soft glow of a laptop or iPad screen. It hasn’t been all bad, though. Instead of climbing up the walls during lockdown I was able to take advantage and watch the shows I was never able to get to, like Schitt’s Creek, Orange is the New Black, and Kim’s Convenience, to name a few. I also got hooked on new offerings – if you haven’t watched Yellowjackets, drop everything and binge it now!. It’s in these visual stories that we can learn greater empathy and understanding while enjoying a much-needed escape.
Was it even a question that books would be on this list? I’ve always found solace in their company. They have the magic to take you places when you’re forced to stay where you are, while presenting exciting new (and sometimes life-changing) ideas, challenging beliefs we might have held for years, and encouraging us to grow – even when we think we’re too old to learn new tricks. When the pandemic started, I clung to books like a life raft, to both survive and escape reality. As the days wore on, my relationship with books became healthier – I read historical fiction to put the present in perspective, textbooks to learn about things I had always been curious about, and light reads to add some joy to the everyday.
It hasn’t been an easy road for any of us, but hopefully these five things will inspire you to create your own list of things that help bring joy, comfort, and a sense of control back into your life.
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P.S. I’m hooked to this simple, once-daily word puzzle and I highly recommend you shoot your shot if you haven’t played Wordle yet).
Andrea Querido is a 40-ish book-loving, introverted word nerd who’s passionate about connection, self-care, personal growth, creating community and, of course, books!
Favourite book: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Favourite brunch spot: Anywhere I don’t have to cook.