2020 has been "epic," as my teenagers would say, but not in a good way. Last Monday, marked 6 full months of stay-at-home orders from the pandemic for our family.
We knew it would be awhile but did not imagine the past 6 months of social distancing. On top of that, we are confronting a global pandemic, systemic racism, economic and food insecurity, and the West on fire. It's tough for all of us -- especially for the kids.
That said, my family is lucky — no one directly impacted by Covid-19 (yet), we still have jobs, and we have teenagers who can handle online school without much guidance or direction. Even so, the anxiety about the state of our world and the future affects us all deeply.
The anxiety of extroverts compounds their concern about the state of the world. The lack of physical connection and in person interaction creates a tough situation for outgoing, "people" people. Compounding all these societal issue is the very real experience of stress about the state of the environment.
Eco-anxiety is hitting home for all of us. The sky in Bozeman is full of smoke from California and Oregon. Code RED air quality this week. The American Psychological Association defines “eco-anxiety” as “the fear of impending environmental doom.” Many citizens around the world are experiencing this stress related to the state of the world. Generation Z (born 1997 to present) is especially worried about climate change and the future. My kids talk to me it about everyday — that was before the pandemic and the Western fires of 2020.
Here are 6 things that have kept me grounded:
Not a hike, a "stroll." A wellness strategy. Photo credit: Heather White
1. Avatar: The Last Air-Bender (Netflix)
No, not that Avatar. The animated hit series about air, earth, water, and fire benders from a decade ago that’s had a tremendous comeback. My kids encouraged us to watch this beautiful animated series on friendship, coming-of-age, and finding yourself in an epic good vs. evil battle. I strongly recommend all three seasons. This article in America: The Jesuit Review on the spirituality of the Avatar inspiring and provides solace and hope during these challenging times.
2. Treasure Quest: Snake Island (Amazon Prime)
This over-the-top reality adventure series has been such fun for the whole family. It’s suspenseful and fascinating to follow real life treasure hunters looking for lost Incan gold on the most densely-populated island of venomous snakes in the world. On what island, you ask? Yes, snake island.
3. The Podcast “Song Exploder”
Quarantine life has made me appreciate the arts so much more. This podcast talks with artists about the genesis of their songs and takes the listener through their song creation story. Beautifully produced and incredibly fascinating. My favorite episodes are: ““Fire” with Waxahatchee, “Harmony Hall” with Vampire Weekend, “Cattails” with Big Thief.
4. Giving & Donating to Relief Funds, NGOs, & Candidates
2020 has been a year! My goodness. Fires, hurricanes, hunger, systemic racism, a pandemic — there are so many great organizations supporting fire relief efforts, fighting hunger, supporting real action on climate change, fighting racism, supporting public health workers, and political candidates you admire. Donating, sharing the message, and calling your elected officials can change the debate and help provide resources for these important causes.
5. Zoom Calls with Family & Friends
Gretchen Rubin notes in her book “The Happiness Project” that one of the key tenants of happiness is to “make time for friends.” This time of virtual connection has lifted my spirits in these tough, tough times. We had a college reunion, a 20th Anniversary Celebration, and even produced full family Shakespeare plays via Zoom. These moments of celebration have been a welcome distraction from the stress-filled events of 2020.
6. Saturday Strolls
We branded these mini-hikes “strolls” to try to get the kids on board (without much success; they still complain). This time outdoors has been good for the soul. Like art and music, the pandemic has made me appreciate time in nature. Science shows that even 5 minutes outside can reduce anxiety , decrease blood pressure, and increase a sense of overall well-being.
Now — if we could just go outside …
What am I reading? George Orwell’s 1984. Not the best book to recommend right now.
Certainly doesn’t help with eco-anxiety.
What’s working for you?
Looks like we’ll be at this awhile longer . . .