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Opinion | When feeling powerless during COVID-19 lockdown, fight back

Week Seven into the pandemic lockdown, my husband bought me a T-shirt. On it, Rosie the Riveter flexes her biceps while wearing a mask, standing in front of a coronavirus cell and the words: We Can Do It!

Every day, we try.

If you’re accustomed to being productive, it’s quite a challenge to wake up to an empty calendar and no need to get out of your sweatpants. However, with the sweatpants honeymoon over, there are several ways to fill your days that provide more meaning than knocking another Netflix series off your bucket list.

Over time, we have each found ways to keep entertained, mostly doing things we’ve had on our to-do list for a while. We also worked in some things we had planned but had to twist given the pandemic restrictions.

Here are some activities I’ve found that helped me fight back the coronavirus blues.

Inspire others with kindness

The world is full of charities that serve people who are more affected by COVID-19 than most of us: food banks for families who relied on school breakfast programs, women’s shelters who take in victims of the bullies they live with, housing groups with affordable homes where people hunker down.

People crave direction, especially after this long time at home.

A friend and I were able to fill a food warehouse in a single day when we organized a porch pick-up food drive — volunteer offers flooded our inboxes.

I encourage you to do something similar. Mobilize your army by posting links and stories, showing how people can contribute. Better yet, lead the charge by giving, then inviting others to do the same.

Explore online shopping

My Rosie shirt came from a company that specializes in aviation-themed apparel. Who knew there was such a thing? If you want, you can pick one up for $24. You can also get a hoodie or a mug, if that’s more your style.

Every purchase generates $5 for the Canadian Red Cross. My social-media posts about it sold three more shirts and inspired a donation to the Red Cross.

We have discovered other treasures along the way.

After months of procrastination, we finally did a bit of research and bought a new mattress online from a Canadian company. And an area rug. And a new laptop.

Yes, we are working to stimulate the economy from our living room.

Go back to science class

My husband found the T-shirt while watching one of the many videos that fill his days. He has become obsessed with Flat Earth Society debunkers and people who microwave grapes until they turn into plasma. It’s a real thing. Check it out.

He’s at the store buying grapes right now.

Order out with gusto

Speaking of food, wasn’t cooking fun for about three weeks? Now, I’m practically drooling as I scroll through online menus and planning our weekly treats of ordering in.

Rather than scrolling quickly and hitting the usual haunts, we’re debating where to go and trying new places. It keeps daring restaurateurs in business so we’ll have more choices post-pandemic.

A great way to search for local restaurants in Hamilton is through Urbanicity’s places page!

Organize everything

You likely had no idea how crazy your house was until you saw it with fresh eyes around Day 12 of lockdown. Me neither.

Since then, every book, retro CD, bill, digital photo, plastic container, and recipe has been put into the proper place. It took less time than expected and gives a great sense of calm and accomplishment.

Check one more box for mental health.

Clean, paint, and hew

Along the same lines, we have scrubbed grout we never saw as grungy before. Cut down trees leaning towards the fence. Used up excess paint to freshen up a wall in the basement. Yes, the basement.

Even small spaces have jobs that get put on the back burner. Now is your chance to feel like a million bucks when you get them done.

Reach out old school

You’ve heard the advice already — do physical distancing but not social distancing. If you’re not sick of Zoom calls yet, you will be soon.

Instead, call a neighbour or two and talk on the phone. Better yet, go stand on the yard and talk via a window. No texting.

Leave small treasures on people’s doorsteps. Write and mail a letter with a personal greeting.

Create a memorable moment that shows the simplicity of human kindness.

Make masks

Dig out old T-shirts and go to town making face coverings to wear to the store. If you’re handy, sew up some masks for people who are wary about leaving the house without one.

Each mask takes 15 minutes or less to make. Whipping up a few can brighten your day.

Dance on our terms

Back in the glory days of early March, we bought tickets to a 1950s-style dance party with great visions of a night out with friends. When the big night came, we ordered pizza and used our keys to break into the dance hall within the heritage building we helped to restore.

My date wore a collared shirt and I put on pantyhose for the first time in months. Oh, and lipstick! It felt gloriously decadent.

We set up the boom box and cracked open a couple of beers. We twisted, shouted, and twirled through the Beatles’ entire collection. After two hours, we went home smiling. It felt good to venture out past the front gate, physically and mentally.

We Can Do It! Right? We just have to do it differently. We are not as powerless as we feel amid our isolation.

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