Dread is not too strong a word to describe the feelings that many of us have about the winter season that is about to start. The COVID virus itself and the resulting disease is reason enough for this dread and there is not much we as individuals can do about that except to follow all the good advice on staying safe. However, there are two other major depressing impacts of COVID-19. One is the effect that all the uncertainty and ever-changing limitations and restrictions are having on our mental health. The other, once we take a slightly longer view, is the harm that the pandemic has done to the economy and with it our financial prospects. So how do you get through a COVID winter?
Worrying about hanging on to your sanity and about your economic circumstances can really leave you in the dumps. But we can do something about both these challenges.
What can we do to avoid slipping into a deep, dysfunctional depression when we have several very good reasons to be depressed? Since a major symptom of depression is curling up, shutting down, and doing nothing, most professionals agree that the antidote is to push yourself to stay as active as possible in as many dimensions as possible.
Keep up social contacts and make sure to talk to at least one other person every day even if it is electronically. This is especially important if you are isolating at home alone.
Stay physically active. Go out for a walk or a run, masked and by yourself, and/or work out at home. (Be sure and check out Prime Women’s 5-Minute Barre videos, along with the 30-Day Fitness Challenges — they’re FREE!)
Since our brains and our psyches need exercise as much as our bodies, find something meaningful to do. This is a challenge since our social life, parties and celebrations and even face-to-face volunteer work have been curtailed. Paid work, if that is still part of our lives, is either at home or limited and socially distanced.
If you do have a job, you are worried about whether it will last. If you are moving into retirement or are self-employed, you may still be concerned about maintaining an income stream. Even if you are fully and happily retired, you still need a meaningful activity to get you through a COVID-constrained winter.
There is something that we can do to keep ourselves mentally well, to improve our own financial prospects, and to make good use of the unplanned free time the pandemic has created. Take advantage of this free time you now have while stuck at home to add to your own human capital – that is your skills and abilities. This human capital can be invested in your career or business and/or put to good use to get the most benefit from post-working years.
Those still in the workforce should be aware that, even now, with unemployment rates coming off 50-year highs, the economy is still being hampered by shortages of qualified workers in certain areas. One such area includes technicians and technologists. Basic steps like being able to quickly process COVID test results have been hampered by the lack of qualified technicians. This is just one example.
Your first step to a better financial future post-COVID is to check out business opportunities, major employers, etc. on the Internet and find out what is likely to be in demand. Since just about every kind of education and training is now being offered electronically, you can then find online everything from a YouTube video to a full university course that can open new doors for you and give you new skills. At least equally as important, these learning opportunities will also give you a good reason to get up in the morning and do something positive.
If you already have a job, as a teacher, for example, you can use your shut-in time to add to your job security by building up the skills that have not been needed in the past but have become essential as we move through the pandemic. If you can demonstrate that you know how to teach electronically, both the technical aspects and the content, your future will be much more secure than that of those who worried and waited for the pre-pandemic world to reappear.
Those of us who are no longer in the paid workforce or are thinking of leaving it should be thinking of what kind of human capital will best serve us in more leisure-related activities.
If you are looking forward to traveling once we get through this pandemic, you now have time to acquire a language. Italy will be a lot more fun if you can chat with the locals and read a menu in a trattoria.
If you have thought about writing a book you can enforce your good intentions by looking for creative writing courses and motivate yourself by finding out how to get published or to self-publish. A similar approach would work with painting or other artistic or cultural endeavors.
This season may not be as much fun as we might like, but we can take advantage of its limitations to survive it and create a better future for ourselves. And that’s how to get through a COVID winter.
Perhaps you, like so many others, find yourself laid off, furloughed, or required to return to the workforce. Looking for employment is always daunting, but searching for something during this pandemic is on another level. However, we still need to make sure we’re utilizing our network and doing everything it takes to make it happen. Let’s discuss how to find work during COVID-19, and some methods you may have not considered.