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MARTHA MUZYCHKA: Advice for life in these pandemic times

Making biscuits is a quick way to use what’s on hand to make a fresh hot accompaniment for soup, chili or salad or to serve with jam, honey or molasses for a snack. They are delicious split and toasted under the broiler as well. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Baking your own biscuits from scratch or bottling your own jam from local berries are both fun and satisfying things to do. — SaltWire Network file photo

This past summer has been excellent. Some of us explored all the trails, some went staycationing around the province, others picked up outdoor pursuits like hiking, biking and outdoor swimming, and still more worked on gardens and patios to make outdoor socializing fun, safe and pleasant.

The pandemic continues to evolve and our responses over time have to evolve as well. As a former Girl Guide, I have taken to heart their motto of Be Prepared. And after Snowmageddon, I don't think you can ever be too prepared. So here are some thoughts on managing with Pandemic 2.0:

Me time — First, let’s focus on you. Years ago, I attended a self-care workshop and the trainer said something that stuck with me ever since. She reminded us of the airline safety message “Always put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others.”

You don’t have to be good at it. You just have to start.

Make and take time for yourself. Maybe it’s walking the trail and enjoying the fall colours or the fresh falls of snow in winter. Maybe it’s painting your toenails or soaking in a hot bath. Perhaps it’s reading the latest bestseller. Whatever it is, take the time for yourself and let your loved ones know, short of fire or flood, you are not to be interrupted.

Hobby time — Doing something with your hands, from the simple to the complex, occupies your mind delightfully. You don’t have to be good at it. You just have to start.

I’ve discovered that YouTube has an endless supply of how-to videos on just about any thing imaginable. Even a $2 package of coloured pencils and some plain paper will help you pass the time pleasantly when you are on the phone and stuck on hold.

If hobbies aren’t your jam, you could always do what my friend does and make a list of Stupid Projects ™ (investigating mystery basement boxes, emptying jammed drawers, cleaning the creepy attic etc) and work your way through them.

Thinking time — Falling into an overthinking spiral is unproductive. Crosswords, number games, card games can help redirect your mind towards solving a different problem. I have friends who adore fiendish puzzles; the more pieces, the better. It can be quite soothing to figure out what piece goes where. And when you’re done, you can trade with others and the whole tangle begins anew.

Social time — There’s nothing like a cup of tea or a bracing walk with a friend to keep you grounded. Whether it’s in person or online, maintaining social connections matters. I joke about making play dates for myself, but I know come the winter, I’m going to find ways of getting together, even if I’m sewing in my corner with my tablet linking me to my friend who is sewing in hers.

Finding joy time — Every day on this side of the ground is an adventure waiting to happen. One friend shares new things she’s trying. It could be a cheese, a tea or a new fruit. Another challenged their kids to find all the fuzzy things one day and all the round things the next. I laughed when my friend told me she hauled all the odd buys from her pantry and numbered them. Her family drew numbers and had to create a meal with the items they “won.” It turned out everything was surprisingly edible.

You don’t have to schedule every moment, but with the fluidity we face with work, home and school, planning your fall and winter will help you set boundaries and create structures to suit you.

Martha Muzychka is a writer living in St. John’s. Email [email protected]


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