I’m an eternal optimist but even I have to admit: Everything is pretty terrible right now.
We are three weeks out from Labor Day. Schools aren’t opening in many places. We’re bracing for a “second wave” of COVID-19.
Many businesses are failing. We’re sweating under masks, avoiding the people we love and, oh yeah, we’re about to enter an incredibly contentious presidential election season.
Fall seems like a horror movie in slow motion.
But wait, read that again: We’re three weeks out from Labor Day! There’s still time to savor the summer and hold off the evil that likely awaits us after Sept. 7.
We’re so on edge, so tense and so angry at each other, and it looks like it will only get worse in the coming months. It’s imperative that we collectively take these next three weeks to enjoy life and relax, as much as possible.
That will mean different things to different people. Here are some suggestions to make the next three weeks enjoyable and happy, and to help carry that happiness over into a fall season that seems poised to kick our butts.
Read fiction. We read the news. We read for work. We read the latest Kardashian shenanigans. But a 2018 study by the Department of Labor Statistics found that reading for leisure is at an all-time low. Who has the time?
Last spring I realized I’d shifted my reading habits into nonfiction so completely that I wasn’t sure I could pick up fiction books again. I asked for suggestions and formed a list.
Getting lost in a book is the perfect antidote to the stress of our days. Three of my recent favorites, “The Nesting Dolls” by Alina Adams, “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee and “The Bronze Horseman” by Paullina Simons, also provided a sharp reminder that as bad as things might be right now, we live in the greatest country in the world, in the freest moment in history. We’ll get through this.
Reach out to friends. In the crazy, hazy early days of our lockdown, Zoom happy hours were so prevalent we had to keep a running schedule. But we got tired of seeing our friends through a screen and, frankly, we were all drinking way too much.
If you’re comfortable, go see your friends in person. If not, online’s better than nothing. Get food from one of the restaurants that only have take-out during this pandemic.
Have a drink or don’t. Find something funny to talk about. Reminisce about better days. Make plans for the future. Remember how good it felt to be together and look forward to doing it again soon.
Avoid politics. “But, I can’t! It’s too important. I must speak out!” OK, then wait three weeks. Use the time to disconnect. Between Labor Day and Election Day, feel free to shed friends on Facebook with your political rants. For now, skip the political fuming — just don’t engage. The presidential campaigns will be here when you get back to it.
Go to the nearest body of water and dunk yourself. I’m blessed to live near the Atlantic, and at this point in the summer, the water’s perfect. Even if you’re not a swimmer, just sitting and staring at the horizon releases endorphins, the chemical your body produces to deal with stress.
If you have kids, find time every day to focus on them. Yes, parents gripe that they’ve “been with my children non-stop since March, I’m focusing enough!” Yet it’s easy to forget that kids are also living through this difficult moment and picking up cues about how worried they should be.
In our family, we’ve been watching old movies and TV shows. Shows like “Little House on the Prairie” and films like “Flight of the Navigator” have brought us together and given us an opportunity to talk about our own childhoods with them.
If you’ve been staying in because it’s too hard to get your kids to wear masks (I get that), take them somewhere isolated and outdoors and let them enjoy the freedom of going maskless. They need it.
This moment will pass. We just need to take care of ourselves and each other to make it through. Drown out the divisive noise, and do things that bring you joy.
Recharging now will help make a difficult fall a little easier.
Author : Karol Markowicz