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07/21/2020

Fighting The Pandemic Blues

Hello! I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted anything and I apologize. This topic today, Fighting The Pandemic Blues is actually related to why that is, and how similar things may be impacting you. On Saturday in our monthly Pamoja! group coaching session, a common theme members expressed was that due to the continued global pandemic, we are feeling bored, feeling some depression, and at times an inability to do the things that we want or need to do. We long to get out of the house. We long to spend time with other people. We long for some sense of normalcy in our lives. We’re suffering from the Pandemic Blues.

Is that something that you can relate to? How has the isolation, confusion, fear, uncertainty and disruption of your life for this extended time impacted your mental state? What do you most miss or need right now?

During this time of the pandemic, of the continued racism and cultural/social/political turmoil that is going on worldwide, it’s very easy to just feel tired and hopeless. To shut down and do nothing. Especially with the conflicting and changing messages we are hearing from whatever way we turn.

Whether or not you feel the lock downs, face masks, and social distancing are necessary or effective, the fact is, for many of us they are a reality of our current daily lives. It’s the world we are living in at this time.

I know for me, I’ve had many topics that I’ve wanted to talk about here on the blog, on YouTube, on Instagram or in the Black Vegan Academy Facebook Group over the past several months. I have ideas of things I want to share with you. And yet when I try to sit down to create, nothing happens. I am having trouble staying motivated and focused and breaking out of this pandemic paralysis.

So, today I want to share some of the ideas our Pamoja! Members talked about to help us break out of that rut. To find balance and to stick to doing the things we know will help us stay healthy and sane.

Three main focuses emerged in our sharing. They addressed the needs we have for getting out of the house, for being social, and for sticking to our goals of living a healthy lifestyle. First is, getting outside and getting exercise. Second is, how to be able to be socially distant and yet not so socially isolated. And the third, turning this time into a blessing by using it to do things we haven’t had the time to do before.

Getting outside.

Finding an outdoor activity gets you out of the house and out into the sunshine. It gets you some exercise. All things that are important for staying healthy. Getting outside can actually be useful for number two, being social too.

One of our members described a walking group he participates in with his friends. All it takes is to call them up, set a time and place and then do it! They stay 6 ft apart. They wear masks when they must be closer, such as when passing other people on the street. Exercise + social interaction=Yes! Yes!

I love how they have taken initiative to create the opportunity they need to take care of themselves physically and mentally. Who can you invite to join you on a regular walk?

Got a bike? Great! Get it out and start riding it. Even if it’s only around your block at first. Getting out on your bike can also be an opportunity to explore new areas of your community.

My sister is part of a bicycle riding group. They meet on Saturdays and ride the bike trails in their city. See if one exists in your area. Or, just like with the walking, call up some friends or family members and say, “Hey, let’s get together and go for a bike ride this week.” Set a day, time and place you will meet. Agree on your rules for engagement. When will you wear your masks and when will it be ok to take them off? How can you have some socialization time at the beginning and or end of your ride? Then do it!

Another idea that came up was to do a regular excursion in your area. This Pamoja! member knows someone who is going around and visiting the various waterfalls in the area where they live. Each week their family takes a day trip and visits a place they haven’t been to or someplace they want to visit again.

What ways can you get out and explore in your area? It’s a beautiful way to reconnect with nature, feel the presence of the divine, and remember that we are not alone. Whenever I need to improve my mood, spending time outside, even just in my yard, can help me get refreshed and recentered.

The great thing about all three of these ideas is that it can help you commit to doing what you know you need to be doing. By setting a specific time, by joining up with others, you are more likely to follow through  with staying active and getting fresh air and sunshine and stick with it.

What are some other creative ways you can get outside, get some exercise and maybe even socialize a bit? Leave a comment to inspire others.

Getting Social and Easing the Isolation

Are there ways we can still socialize without violating the rules and mandates on social distancing? We talked about possible options to bring our neighborhood communities together.

I have heard about social distancing dinners/gatherings where people are in a backyard or maybe spread across a couple of front yards. Each family unit brings their own food. Each sits at a distance from other families. You’re close enough that you can talk to each other but you’re far enough away that you aren’t violating the 6ft rule. Or if you’re in the city where you don’t have yards, maybe everyone can be out on their front porches. Or go to an area park or green space. Bring your lawn chairs. Bring a card table or TV trays.

You can reach out to your neighbors, schedule a time for your neighborhood safe block party. Be sure to agree on the rules. This way you can be around other people. You can check on the people in your neighborhood to make sure they’re OK. And you can break the isolation to some degree.

You may be tired of Zoom meetings but you can also have fun on Zoom. My daughter‘s baby shower last month was by Zoom. We were able to come together as family members from all across the country. Actually internationally because I was in Tanzania. They had organized games, they sent little party favors to the attendees and it was so much fun! Even family members in their 80’s, some in nursing homes were able to join us. It was beautiful to see everyone.

I challenge you to think about other creative ways to fight this isolation, this separation. Because it’s not good for us. Especially for those who live alone. We are social people. Share what you come up with or what you’ve done so that we can all learn from each other.

Using this time for good

Lastly, I really liked what one of our Pamoja! members shared about the power of perspective. He said he is counting this time as a blessing. He is using it to learn things that he hasn’t had time or the inclination to learn before.

Although there are many things about this time that are not blessings at all, we have a choice to turn it into something for our good. We can find a blessing in it. By doing so, we can give ourselves something to be excited about, boost our mood and lift ourselves out of our depression.

You can find books that can help you learn about topics such as gardening, which is so important right now. Growing your own food is more important now than ever.

Maybe learn a new language. There are many language learning apps or online learning platforms available now. Or learn more about Africa and making your Blaxit. We’re seeing more diasporan Africans making the move. Are you considering it? Take this time to research. There are a number of YouTubers talking about the diasporan life in various African countries.

You can take classes online. Maybe you want to explore college courses. Universities like Harvard or MIT are offering classes for free online. There are subscription learning platforms like Skillshare where you can learn just about anything from crafts to cooking to starting a business. Or even just use YouTube videos. If you want to learn it I bet you can find a resource to teach it to you.

Now is the time, if you are able, to learn the things, to practice the things, to study up on the things that before, you didn’t or couldn’t find the time to do. And in this way, you can come out the other side of this with new skills, new understanding, and new opportunities.

Get back to reading. Watch some good movies. Ask your friends and family members for recommendations. Share the results in your circles.

I encourage you to step outside the regular of what you’ve been doing. Break out of the boredom, the isolation, the depression, by thinking outside the box. By thinking of new, creative ways to do the things you miss. In doing so, you can make a step towards fighting the pandemic blues.

And now I want to hear from you. What ways have you found to get together with others, to go and explore things, to learn new things? What are you doing to help keep yourself and your family from despair, from depression, from boredom? How are you turning this time into a blessing?

Become a Pamoja! Member!

If you are looking for a safe and supportive community of Black folks to help you stick to your healthy lifestyle goals and thrive despite the crazy times we are living in, I invite you to become a Pamoja! Member. Find out more at https://opare.net/pamoja. We’d love to have you.

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Ama Opare
Lifestyle Coach, CEO at Opare Institute
Helping my coaching clients go from vegan wanna-be to Unshakably Vegan! From meal-time boredom to loving what they eat. From self-sabotage to taking control. From tempted by all the wrong choices in their non-vegan world to making the right decisions. And from sick and tired to vibrant and healthy. Discover your personal recipe for success and abundant health! BE UNSHAKABLE!

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