The indications are that we may be seeing a peak for COVID-19 in the US. And that means a horrifying number of deaths are happening right now.
Many of us are fortunate to be safely at home with our families instead of in an overcrowded hospital. And as preferable as that is, it’s not without it’s own challenges.
So how are we handling it? Not well, apparently:
- Alcohol sales were up 55% in the week ending March 21. Spirits were up 75%, followed by wine up 66% and beer up 42%. Online alcohol sales were up 243%.
- People are relying mostly on nonperishable foods (like pasta) and turning to processed foods for comfort. The result will be weight gain — the “COVID-15” or the “quarantine 15.”
- Finally, people are exercising less. According to data from 68,000 fitness trackers, Americans are moving less and sleeping more while stuck at home.
These plus many other vices are how we’re handling the existential threat of the virus. And while it’s understandable to adopt a “whatever it takes” attitude at this highly stressful point in time, it also may result in permanent bad habits in the future.
Look, I get it. I’ve had thoughts of pizza and vast quantities of red wine more than once this week. And a couple of years ago, those thoughts would have been reality as quickly as I could order the pie on the way to the liquor store.
But I don’t do it, because the weather is great and I want to hike the next day. Odds are, I’ll feel like ass from the wine, end up doing nothing, and then decide to drink again.
In other words, it’s an easy choice. I don’t feel like I’m abstaining or sacrificing … I’m choosing something else that I truly want more.
I used to think people who put running or cycling or some other athletic activity ahead of everything else were a bit strange. Now I am one of those people, and the chemicals that result from it are way better — without the hangover.
What if you chose a coping mechanism that your future self would thank you for, instead of regretting? I know it’s tough in the moment if it’s not already a strong habit, but it will help you avoid getting sick in the short term, and give you the life you want down the road.
If not for yourself and your family, do it for me. I can’t be losing subscribers. 😉
Lift Your Spirits
It’s easy to reach for a drink when you’re stressed or anxious, but you may find your anxiety is even greater the next day due to the after effects. Try one or more of these alternatives and see if you’re better off.
Top 10 Ways to Eliminate Stress Without Alcohol | Psychology Today
The MacGyver Gym
Who needs a gym full of sweaty narcissists? Last week we looked at a bunch of bodyweight exercises that can bring the buff, and now we’re gonna DIY some equipment. No excuses … but where did I leave that wad of bubblegum and the paperclips?
My only true virtue is that I don’t snack. I just don’t, I don’t know why, and I don’t understand why other people do. Weird, right? Or maybe you’re the weird one, and you need to read this article, stat.
7 Strategies to Curb Snacking While Safe at Home During COVID-19 | Gretchen Rubin
Like Caine from Kung Fu
Walking meditation is one of the alternatives to “just sitting there,” and I’ve found it has practical applications, too. Just getting up and moving more will help improve your health, and doing it this way will also improve your state of mind.
You Are Not Alone
The present crisis is definitely having a toll on our mental health. First of all, that’s completely understandable. Secondly, what can be done? In his usual salty style, Mark Manson delivers wise advice for keeping your head straight.
Coronavirus: Surviving the Looming Mental Health Crisis | Mark Manson
Scroll down for tips on improving your focus despite uncertainty, and get the story behind Eddy Grant’s massive 1982 one-hit wonder in the Flashback. Please stay well!
P.S. Did someone forward this issue of Further to you? We’d love to have you join us by signing up here.
By Trudi Roth
Much ado has been made about our diminishing powers of concentration for a while now. Back in 2015, Microsoft famously reported that goldfish can hold it together longer than humans (9 seconds vs. our measly 8 seconds).
And newer research shows that our collective attention span is narrowing, thanks to things like social media and the 24/7 news churn. Add in the anxiety of a global pandemic and the new normal of working from home with a bevy of distractions, and focus is out the door (unlike the rest of us).
For example, in the time it took me to write less than 100 words, I’ve been interrupted by family about a half-dozen times, got pinged in Slack by three different clients, and refilled my coffee twice. Clearly, finding a way to concentrate in the time of COVID-19 deserves our focus.
What drives distraction
Under normal circumstances, the sheer volume of content at our fingertips combined with the addictive nature of our devices leaves us “distracted, distant, and drained,” according to the American Psychological Association.
On top of that, information that literally has life and death implications is now vying for our attention. This puts our primal neurology on high alert:
Therefore, under conditions of threat and uncertainty, we’re wired to find it hard to redirect our attention and get absorbed thinking about safe topics (e.g., read a fun novel or a dense document for work).
Additionally, we’re missing the usual cues that help us settle into a productive flow, like going to an office or working at home alone. Even if you’re starting to get into a routine, it may still be hard to stay on task — so now’s the perfect time to cultivate better concentration.
Come into focus
While there are lots of ways to enhance your productivity, when you’re under stress that goes beyond the norm, experts recommend tempering your expectations. Tips to up your attention ante without going all-in include:
- Work at functional capacity vs. full capacity. Recognize that your cognitive and emotional resources need some of your energy and attention, so figure out what that means to you. Sixty-percent might be your new capacity level.
- Tackle less-demanding administrative tasks first. Use straightforward work to get into a groove to tackle bigger projects.
- Manage your productivity expectations. Accept it may take longer for you to feel good about your work, much like it does when you force yourself to exercise even though you don’t feel like it.
- Get disciplined about your media consumption. Limit your time on news and social channels to once or twice a day.
- Take breaks. Take a walk, connect with your family, and do what feels like recovery to you.
Most of all, don’t be so hard on yourself. We’re experiencing what is likely the strangest situation of our lives — and that’s saying something.
How to Concentrate When You’re Working from Home (Psychology Today)
Eddy Grant – Electric Avenue
Killer on the Rampage, 1982
Electric Avenue was one of the biggest hits from 1982, but few know that it’s about the 1981 Brixton riot in south London. The Guns of Brixton by the Clash was released before the violence broke out, but sets the stage through lyrics that refer to the anger of a Brixton-born son of Jamaican immigrants. (YouTube)
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