April 2020 Cover Story: Making the most of your time at home during the COVID-19 crisis
By: Mike Tumbarello
The coronavirus has wreaked havoc globally, with about 1,000,000 cases reported to-date, with others likely unreported, underreported or not yet confirmed. While the human toll has been extremely painful to witness, with more likely to follow, we are blessed here in the mountains of western Maryland. With only three reported cases to-date in Garrett County, we have dodged the health bullet so far. While the worst may still be to come to us in the Deep Creek Lake area, we have all been impacted in large and maybe not-so large ways.
Witnessing the struggle of those on ventilators (and those helping those in need), the pain of loved ones as they watch and fear for the worst, or just the general pain, disruption and frustration we all feel as the crisis unfolds, we are perhaps all in need of some positive thoughts. As you know if you are a regular reader of our site, we at Deep Creek Times are not only about all that is Deep Creek lake, but also all about celebrating this wonderful area we visit, call home or where we come to our second home. The purpose of this brief cover article is to provide some simple, yet hopefully helpful, observations, suggestions and resources for our readers as we self-quarantine, remain isolated at home and limit exposure and social distance when we do make our brief forays outside.
I believe that there are some things we can accept and do to make our lives at home more enjoyable, productive and healthy during this crisis. So, while I am not a healthcare professional, I do believe there is an upside to taking charge of your own actions and attitude while “stuck” at home. If you are just limiting your normal activities as a retiree, on a “staycation” from work, or forced to work one of more jobs from home, here’s some ideas for your consideration. Some are my own, some were suggested by friends or colleagues and some are from other sources (which I cite if I can remember). Here goes (and note these are not in any special order, with the first four from my Daily Notes column on March 23rd):
This is serious, so don’t go out into “a crowd” unless you absolutely need to. If you do go out to get provisions, be quick and use gloves and wipes/alcohol rub if you touch things that have been touched by others (including gas pumps, shopping carts, ATM buttons and anything in a public restroom, including the sink). When you are making your limited outside forays, pick up reading material, games, etc. to help your isolation “work for you.”
Take care of those in need. We all know someone that may need some assistance (or reassurance) during this period. They may need someone to shop for food for them, or just someone to talk to. A phone call or text/email to an elderly, infirm or “shut-in” relative, friend or neighbor can go a long way. Take five minutes and do it. Try to reach out to one person a day if you can.
Use this time to reconnect with family and enjoy simplicity. It is OK to slow down and “just” read or play a game with members of the family if you are sequestered indoors. Get back to the basics and take a deep breath to enjoy being home and that you have a home in these challenging times.
Get out and make some vitamin D. I have heard that Garrett County folks (me included) tend to be vitamin D deficient. You can consider taking supplements and/or also go outside for even a few minutes and take a walk (or even sit) in the sun. It will feel good, get the heart pumping a little and break the cycle of staying indoors. Obviously use judgement and get a doctor’s OK if you need one.
Go with the flow. This thing is bigger than any individual or community. While I am not known for my patience, I have found that accepting the global, “deep” nature of this pandemic has helped me “chill out” relative to frustrations or disruptions.
Take a visual vacation. Get on the internet, or read some of those old National Geographic magazines you have on the bookshelf (yeah, those) and visit some distant place via photos and articles. Think about maybe adding to your bucket list of places to visit in the future when all of this is over with.
Eat a great virtual meal out. Go through some cookbooks or get online and check out some interesting food, or maybe food-for-thought for future dishes you will try. If you have the ingredients, try to cook-up something different. If you have a grill, get it started and grill some steaks, burgers or vegetables.
Get on the lake in a kayak. I believe kayaking and paddle boarding is still allowed on the lake (boating is not). So, bundle-up and get out there and get some exercise and take in some of our early spring natural beauty.
Hike. While the state parks are closed, there are a number of local trails that, as of this writing, remain open. That would include the Lions Club trail by HART in McHenry, the trail in Oakland by the Mountain Fresh park, walking trails around the area and just good old walks outside on a road or your farm/property.
Plan and start your vegetable garden. Yes, it’s that time of year, so why not plan and order/pick-up seeds/seedlings to put your inside time to good use. You can even use existing materials inside or out to start a little hot box to aid germination.
Just plain learn. Read or re-read a good book, especially a non-fiction selection that will expand your horizons. If you don’t have a large personal library, you likely have access to the Internet and all it has to offer. Finally, listen to a podcast on a topic of interest or one you wish to expand your knowledge in.
Innovate from the couch. Think about developing your next “big idea” or even your next career or business move. Isaac Newton “discovered” gravity and invented calculus while isolated during the bubonic plaque in 1665. William Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” and “Macbeth” during the closure of London theaters during the plague year of 1606.
And, speaking of the plague from centuries past, consider how fortunate we are to be living now and in America. While the current times at best are disruptive, and at worse can be fatal, we are still in these United States of America in the 21st century. We have so much to support us individually and as a community and so much to be thankful for!
Finally, keep up with developments and resources available via Deep Creek Times Daily Notes, Recent News and local and National resources such as these (you can Google more for specific topics or questions):
https://garretthealth.org/ – A great resource for updates and information on the coronavirus and County resources
https://www.cnn.com/videos/business/2020/03/27/work-from-home-tips-orig.cnn/video/playlists/business-news/ – Interesting insight on working-from-home from the New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/article/how-to-make-face-mask-coronavirus.html – Simple diagram and instructions on how to sew your own face masks
https://mybank.com/ – A good resource for updates on the financial and other aspects of dealing with the current situation
https://www.thepodcasthost.com/listening/how-to-listen-to-a-podcast/ – How to easily and effectively listen to podcasts