I know I’m not alone in my panic scrolling, but I’ve been actively trying to break myself of the habit that has me neglecting my already compromised work—or, worse, sullying a rare minute of downtime—to scan headlines and tweets for some new terror. I know this: The numbers are staggering. The sick are everywhere. We need to stay home.
The privilege of being able to stay home and healthy isn’t lost on me. There’s no doubt that far from being “the great equalizer,” this virus is affecting different populations in exceedingly disparate ways. Still, the task of social distancing remains difficult and the anxiety remains real. In daylight hours, I’m largely okay, distracted either by work or kids, but after the sun goes down, and especially after my kids do, I’ve gotten into the terrible habit of seeking out signs of doom while the sirens outside wail; compulsively searching for any new horrific development.
In dark moments, I’ve found that keeping my hands busy with simple projects is a help. I’m not trying to bury my head in the sand, only to seek a respite from a 24/hour live stream of trauma.
This weekend I started making face masks for our family. I haven’t stepped outside of our apartment in two weeks, but I’m hoping to be able to stretch my legs again soon and when we all venture out, we’ll need face coverings. I’m sewing our masks by hand from a linen napkin and two layers of cotton cut from an old pillowcase. For ties I’m using cotton tape so that the masks are easy to wash between uses. My fingertips are blistered from pushing the thin needle through the thick folds of fabric.
Last night, while I sewed and James rocked Calder, we listened fireside chat-style to the first episode of Cheryl Strayed’s new podcast, Sugar Calling. We kept our hands busy while we listened to the soothing and sensible voices of other people. It worked. We felt better.
Here, a short list of things to do that are not trolling your phone for bad news:
What’s been helping all of you?
PS. I updated my face mask post, in case you have questions about the pattern I used.