Geek, Community, Health

Finding Normalcy in Chaos

Hey loyal TGE folks, I hope you and yours are well.

It’s a massive understatement to say things are, to use the scientific term, shitty right now. COVID-19 has hit hard and left a lasting impact worldwide — economically, socially, and in our daily lives. Terms like social distancing and self-isolation are commonplace. Countries are under lockdown and stay-at-home orders. People are stuck inside, bored, and afraid out of their minds, or are out risking their health and safety to provide.

And with the quarantine comes cabin fever. Depression. A mental rut that many people, myself included, can’t seem to escape. Even with platforms like Zoom and Discord connecting people virtually, it’s a far cry from spending time in the same physical space. Isolation eats away at you, which leads to some less-than-beneficial coping mechanisms. In an effort to help find normalcy in chaos, here are a few things you may consider.

Exercise and Self-Care

Now, I’m not the biggest outdoors person, nor am I enthusiastic when it comes to exercise. But even I have to admit that getting out of the house every now and again is important to keep from going stir crazy. With public gyms and workout classes not currently being an option, you might have to get a bit creative. Cnet put together a list of some fantastic workout resources you can do at home with little to no equipment. The Youtube channel Yoga with Adriene is another great resource for a low-impact workout combined with meditation to help take your mind off the chaos.

If that seems like a bit much, even going out for a walk (remember your mask!) can do wonders for your mental health while burning a few calories. A park, a bike trail, even a walk to the local gas station for a bottle of water. If possible, look for a place you can go to zen out and be quiet, because being alone in the house and being alone in the sun are two very different kinds of alone.

Source. Artist: Joanna Lubanska

New-to-you Media

Animal Crossing is rapidly becoming the way people connect with friends and strangers since we’re all stuck inside. For those of us without a Switch or Switch Lite, there are still dozens of ways to stay connected or just enjoy an evening. Maybe it’s that series your buddy has been pestering you to watch or that game that’s been sitting in your Steam library for 4 years. I’m willing to bet a few of you have that stack of books you’ve been meaning to read. Why not start? Crack one open and work on that backlog!

Personal recommendations I can give are phenomenal The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, Risk of Rain 2 for roguelike fans, and the web show Roadquest produced by LoadingReadyRun.

Risk of Rain 2 Teaser Trailer - YouTube

Revisiting Old Passions

Remember that project you started a few years ago but never got around to finishing? You know, that car in your garage, that guitar in your closet, that story on your computer? What if you started it back up again? Or how about that garden you’d daydreamed about starting? It may be a bit late in the season, but it’s not too late to start something. Engadget has a great article for new planters, with links to products you might consider (if you’re willing and able to get them) and starting tips for beginners. I’m honestly poking around and toying with the idea myself. Whatever your project, now’s a great time to get back on the horse.

Go Easy on Yourself

Fair warning: from here on, it’s gonna get very personal.

I left my job in early January. It wasn’t the worst gig, but enough bad happened that I quit before it wore down my soul or physically damaged me. I became more or less isolated, be it delivering food by myself or staying in to save money.

After a while, isolation and loneliness led to depressive spirals and self-loathing. There were days I avoided using my computer because getting on would mean talking to people, and I didn’t want to face them. I stopped writing articles. I stopped talking to friends and colleagues and family. Soon, I started hating myself. “I’m doing nothing, I’m worth nothing, what if I just disappear?” I was kept company by the demons in my head, which led to toxic thoughts and destructive behaviors.

When Covid-19 started getting bad, my depression got worse. Isolation was now government-mandated. Gatherings and events were canceled or postponed indefinitely. Negativity changed to despair and numbness. I knew I was very lucky to be in a position of semi-stability physically, but it didn’t really seem to matter.

Why am I telling you this? To get it out of my system? To explain where I went? Free therapy?

Little of all three, probably.

Look, things are difficult. It’s hard to feel “normal” any more. We’re living in a scary time, and it’s very easy to start drifting towards dark corners of the mind. I can’t give you a timeline, and I can’t promise anything.

But I can tell you it’s ok to not feel ok. We’re all scared, none of us are really ok, and keeping those thoughts from people is the surest way to let them fester and rule you. If there’s any benefit to this pandemic, maybe it’s brought some people (emotionally) closer together. Talk to someone if you’re feeling unwell mentally. This is a conflict bigger than territories and governments, and it’s one with LITERALLY EVERYBODY on the same team this time.

And there’s some comfort in that, I think.

Stay home, stay safe, and wash your damn hands. Love to you all.