I’ll start with an understatement: these are difficult times. Reading or watching the news have become risky business in the sense, that starting or ending your day engaged in catching up on things can lead to low mood or a sleepless night. At least that is how it has become for many. It is like a poison is introduced into the psyche. In my case, once the poison starts to take full effect, I need to find antidotes, and quickly.

For me, these include physical activity. Outdoors is preferred at the moment, but once winter comes, this will require more effort and determination (again speaking personally). Walking/running and other similar pursuits, can certainly help. Golf is a guaranteed mood raiser for me – even when I bring my B or C game, which is most of the time.

Here is a list of things I do, or am doing:

  • reading (just about anything is good, but my latest read deserves high marks as an antidote: “Squeeze Me” by Carl Hiassen (columnist with the Miami Herald). Heavy and on-target satire of America-during-pandemic that offers belly laughs on most pages.
  • listening. As a musician with eclectic appetites, I find the benefits to listening to great music (all genres) are considerable. Single tracks, full length concerts. It is amazing how much music is accessible through streaming (if only this was making the musicians a decent wage). But I have a fine turntable and LPs to enjoy as well. There are still so many that I own that have not been digitized and compressed and bring great joy to the ears.
  • Watching professional sports on tv can be exciting and nerves-wracking (Raptors, Blue Jays in my case), but you sure don’t think about a second term for the oligarchic dimwit in the White House while the seconds are winding down in a close game.
  • I play chess – and I am mediocre at best. But I love to play this great game with my grandchildren on line. Both are sharper than I am (ages 8 and 13) and a lot of fun to play. The realities of day to day anxiety producing world events just melt away.
  • movies and tv series binging – say no more.
  • Photography. No matter what camera you own. Go and take pictures of anything that strikes your fancy. Gone are the days, thankfully, of the canisters of Kodachrome 64 with a fixed number of possible images and several hours to days of turn around, before staring at a package of mostly terrible shots while standing at the drugstore counter.
  • Shoot and edit video. It’s become so easy. Add music.
  • Write a poem. Even a bad poem gets you started and your psyche will thank you for being given a day-pass. Edit or don’t. It’s up to you. (Unless you do this for a living – WHAT!??)
  • Zoom or FaceTime with friends. Trish and I sometimes even do this while eating dinner with family or friends. We have great friends in Florida and lord knows when we will see them in person again. But we have lengthy visits with them using FaceTime. I also have two great friends with whom I Zoom once or twice a week. Usually an hour or more. Hardly replaces our every-Friday-hang at a local brewery, but offers decompression – at least 99% of the time!!!
  • to be continued.