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Coping with Pandemic Fatigue: Nature, Music and Deep Breaths

Simple strategies from Next Avenue readers, and a roundup of stories that may help

By Julie Pfitzinger

Sometimes all it takes is a soothing cup of hot tea. A Next Avenue reader named Kim says that slowing down, putting the kettle on to boil and brewing a pot of good quality tea, served along with some tea biscuits, “creates a small spot of normalcy in the chaos and misery.”

person playing piano
Credit: Adobe

Normalcy is something we are all seeking more of right now as the country (and the world) is approximately six months into living through the coronavirus pandemic, with the end not clearly in sight.

Across the population, sadly, many have died, while others have mourned the loss of loved ones or found themselves unemployed, and many are struggling to cope with missing their family and friends who are not safe to see for a variety of reasons. Daily routines have been thwarted and favorite local shops and restaurants might have closed. Social groups and classes may still be meeting, but now it’s over Zoom and not across a table.

Along the way, we've also faced social unrest and natural disasters. It's been daunting, to say the least.

Since March, Next Avenue has published more than 150 stories about COVID-19, touching on the relevant health, social, practical and emotional aspects of the pandemic. Our intention is to help inform and support our readers as we all continue to navigate this crisis.

"Once in a while, I sit in my recliner chair for a short time, quietly not thinking,"

As the result of a question we recently posed on Facebook — “How are you coping with days when you’re feeling down?” — we learned that our readers can help support one another through these difficult times, too.

Our Commitment to Covering the Coronavirus

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Thank you to everyone who offered insights and suggestions. We’d like to share several of them here, as well as links to Next Avenue stories touching on some of these very topics.

We truly are all in this together.

Music Can Bring Comfort

“The Metropolitan Opera has been streaming recorded operas every night since the pandemic started. I think I’ve watched at least 100 operas. Music is good for the soul!”

“I’m a church musician and I practice the organ every day.”

“I try to think of music I’m not familiar with like “waltzes” or [composer] Aaron Copland or some new band and [then I] “ask Alexa.” Takes me to another world for a little while. I am a caretaker to my husband who has Parkinson’s with dementia and I often feel totally isolated these days, but the music helps.”

Read more on Next Avenue:

How Musicians Are Bringing Joy During the Pandemic
From the Shower to Zoom, Singing as Stress Relief Goes Global
During Quarantine, This Couple’s Love Song Continues



Mindful Contemplation

“Images/metaphors are helping me cope. I envision myself carrying large sacks that are sometimes too heavy and I give myself permission to lay them down and rest, while other days, they don’t feel so heavy and I can help others carry theirs.”

“I try to recognize it for what it is so that I can address it with some sort of positive balance… I try to take control of how I want to spend my day, and not the other way around.”

“Once in a while, I just sit in my recliner chair for a short time, quietly not thinking, it goes away quickly.”

Read more on Next Avenue:

Finding Calm in the Pandemic Storm
Trouble Sleeping During the Pandemic? Try These Suggestions
Adjusting Daily Routines During the Pandemic

Tapping Into Favorite Pastimes Now

 “Creating a ‘scrapjournal’ which reflects the times [in which] we are living, sharing, panicking about and surviving. It includes photos of walks, my grandkids in ‘virtual schools,’ my frustrations and joys.”

“Enjoying my little wild garden” …”watercolor painting”… “riding my bike” … “daily exercise”…”cooking”… “eating ice cream.”

"After work and dinner, I enjoy online jigsaw puzzles and use an app to brush up on my high school French.”

“Dreaming of where I’m going to go when we’re finally allowed to travel.”


Read more on Next Avenue:

Find Creative Inspiration Online During Quarantine
No Gym? No Worries –How to Stay Fit at Home
From Our Readers: Persevering in the Pandemic

Maintaining Good Daily Habits and Helping Others

“I use my calendar to note my accomplishments each day, large or small.”

“Helping out local food bank more and local animal shelter. Supporting a couple of local businesses that are important to us.”

“I get up early and listen to the birds. I can even hear the loon calling from the lake nearby…I watch close up how the rain pools on my kale leaves [in my balcony garden]. And I breathe."

“When I’m feeling lonely, I reconnect with someone by texting or calling — whatever is their best way to connect.”

Read more on Next Avenue:

How to Volunteer from Your Home Now
Ways That Coronavirus is Boosting Relationships
Getting in Sync with the Natural World

Give Yourself Permission to Feel However You Feel

“A few months ago, I was baking, going for walks, and reading to distract myself. Lately it’s getting harder and harder to shake the feeling of hopelessness.”

“I allow myself to cry and I mean really cry it out. Then I can pick myself up and move on.”

“I stay in bed. Reading the news makes me so depressed.”

Read more on Next Avenue:

Feel Like You’re on the Coronacoaster? You’re Not Alone
COVID-19 and Our Feelings of Helplessness
Managing Anticipatory Grief in a Pandemic

Some Final Words of Wisdom From Readers

“Basically I feel ferociously determined to keep living life as fully as possible with what is available to me…”

And finally, this exchange between two Next Avenue readers reveals the strength of community in whatever form that takes:

Toni wrote, “This is a wonderful thread. I feel many people feel they have to present a bright, positive picture of their lives. The replies here are honest, and let me know your thoughts are similar to mine, and give me ideas. Not giving up.”

And here is the reply from Glennys:  “Don’t give up! You have friends over here that will chat to you … life is still good, just different at the moment.” (And she signed off with a smiling heart emoji.)

Headshot of a woman with curly hair.
Julie Pfitzinger is the managing editor for Next Avenue and senior editor for lifestyle coverage. Her journalism career has included feature writing for the Star-Tribune, as well as several local parenting and lifestyle publications, all in the Twin Cities area. Julie also served as managing editor for nine local community lifestyle magazines. She joined Next Avenue in October 2017. Reach her by email at [email protected]. Read More
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