Four Ideas for Beating the Lockdown Blues
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, albeit with signs of the lockdown abating in pockets across the US and world, I'm emerging from a bout with the blues, given the additional emotional/mental strain that quarantining alone can pose. Now that I'm on the other side, I'm sharing a few tips and resources that worked for me and that can hopefully help others struggling to keep their spirits up from day to day during these unprecedented times.
International Entertainment: Itching to get away? As travel has all but ground to a complete halt under the current lockdown, there are a ton of quality international TV series and movies to transport you - if not in body, then in spirit and mind - to a world away from the confines of your lockdown abode. They are available on Netflix and Hulu, as well as via internationally-focused streaming services, such as BritBox, MHZ Choice, and Acorn TV. Some services offer a free trial period and all offer the ability to subscribe month-to-month and cancel anytime. I've been a huge fan and consumer of international TV series and movies relative to US productions over the past few years, given their more complex plots, flawed and relatable characters, and refreshingly unpolished and Botox-free main characters - you know, with gray hairs, crooked teeth, wrinkles, and a few extra pounds. Plus, I'm always surprised to see how many of my favorite actors from US shows such as Game of Thrones appear in international productions. Oh, and I'd be remiss not to share my most recent obsession, the Israeli counterterrorism action series Fauda (Arabic for "chaos"), which follows a modern-day undercover Israeli unit whose members pose as Palestinians in order to infiltrate and disrupt terrorist plots in the Palestinian Territories. The series provides a window into the everyday realities of the fragile coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians, while eliciting compassion and portraying violence on both sides. However, if geopolitical action series aren't your thing, then there are a range of other genres to choose from, including romance, comedy, and drama. Feel free to message me for other suggestions.
Online Courses: It's no secret that finding and pursuing work that energizes me has been top-of-mind for a while. So, while the ideal next role continues to take shape in my mind, in the meantime, I am building and honing skills that align with my interests, growing demand, and my own skill gaps and that I can leverage broadly in my career in the next few years. To do so, I'm turning to free and/or affordable online education platforms and providers, such as Coursera, Udemy, edX, HubSpot, and Google Analytics Academy. Coursera and edX offer free courses in a range of subjects at the undergraduate and graduate levels from some of the top universities in the world; you pay a fee if you want a certification that you completed a particular course or program. Similarly, Udemy provides a range of trainings, albeit practitioner-led with a focus on building practical technical and soft skills, ranging from coding to marketing. Lastly, HubSpot and Google Analytics Academy are company-specific trainings that help users better leverage their platforms and tools to grow a business, whether their own or the company they work for.
Shopping: As much as I may rail against the culture of overconsumption in the US, shopping does bring fleeting happiness, which can provide some relief when the days blend together and our sphere of activity has been reduced to the bare minimum. So I focus my expenditures on the following: (1) items that encourage me to get outdoors while social distancing, such as a dog bike basket that I purchased to take my dog along with me as I hit the paved trails in my area; (2) staple items that can be utilized in the near term and/or are due to be replaced/replenished, such as a pair of stylish yet affordable Kamik rainboots that I bought from Zappos recently, given the seasonal rains my area is experiencing; and (3) cards and other thoughtful items I can send to loved ones to let them know that I am thinking of them during this difficult time.
Webinars: Additional perspective during times like these is always refreshing. So when my alma mater or professional organizations that I'm affiliated with offer the opportunity to hear and learn from academics and practitioners in social enterprise, ethics, and macroeconomics in the context of the current pandemic, I sign up and block the time on my work calendar as a chance to step away and gain exposure to ideas and people outside of my everyday sphere of influence and activity. I'm also able to pose questions on topics and ideas that are top-of-mind since the pandemic began and have my ideas challenged and my view expanded, which gives me optimism and hope despite flawed governmental responses and the challenges we face in returning, if ever, to normal.
Photo Credit: Courtney Dianne