24 Pandemic Coping Mechanisms

How Much (or Little) Relief Do They Actually Provide?

Guest Contributor / 9.29.21

This article comes to us from Thomas Jay:

After a season of reflection on the first part of COVID, and in hopes of better weathering another possible hard season to come (fingers crossed!), here is a fully-tested, personally experienced, tried and true exploration of how much relief our pandemic coping mechanisms brought us.

  1. Craigslist and/or Facebook Free: 20 minutes of relief per browsing session, 40 minutes if you arrange a pickup. Is the relief in getting the stuff for cheap or in pleasant human interaction with strangers?
  2. Mask freak-out videos: 3 minutes of relief per video. The redeemed part of you will sometimes stop and pray for the people in the video. The unredeemed part will be rolling around in a catnip daze of schadenfreude.
  3. Streaming. 25 minutes of relief per episode. Binging may be the great 21st century analgesic — as long as the queue is full, there’s something to distract us from the pain of life.
  4. New kitchen pots, pans, and knives: About one week of relief. That’s how long new cookware and freshly sharpened knives will take away the anxiety of the pandemic, unless your knives or pans cook or clean themselves.
  5. A mandolin slicer: Zero relief, because you’ll end up cutting your fingertip off and spending a Sunday evening in the ER.
  6. Chick Fil-A and Sheetz. 30 minutes of relief per meal. 40 if you buy a milkshake too.
  7. Beer. 20 mins of relief per drink. So much beer.
  8. Whole 30 and vegetarian diet meals.10 mins of relief per meal. There’s the potential here for 15 minutes of relief, but we are going to subtract 5 relief minutes to account for the trust we will lose from family by adding bland food to the weekly dinner rotation.
  9. Memestocks: 30 seconds of relief every time you check your Robinhood app or whatever stock market websites you use. Yours truly made $30 off the stock market casino last spring off of a $50 investment, but this isn’t investment advice, I just liked the stock.
  10. A “victory” garden: Zero relief, three weekends of stress. Everything will die and nothing will grow: it will serve as a reminder that we would die of starvation if the food supply chain was ever seriously disrupted.
  11. Furniture restoration: Four weekends of relief. It will be a fun project, but how much tranquility can a refurbished bookshelf actually provide?
  12. Cleaning out the garage: Two weekend workdays of relief. It was overflowing and dirty again 6 months later.
  13. Zoom birthday party for your kid: Zero relief. No matter how much the event is over-programmed and streamlined, it’s impossible to sing happy birthday in unison over Skype.
  14. Halloween: One week of relief planning for Halloween, but the parade of Disney Princesses and Marvel Superheroes in disposable surgical masks will be a bit too real.
  15. Outdoor Christmas Eve at church: Zero relief. It will be 38 degrees out and rained like Noah’s flood. One of the most deflating days of the entire pandemic.
  16. Digital Church: Three months of relief, and not a minute more. That’s about how long any digital church gathering seemed to help any of us.
  17. Curbside Grocery pickup: Hours of weekly relief. I don’t know if I’ll ever go into a grocery store again.
  18. Exercise: Six to eight hours of relief every workout day. I owe everyone who snuck back into their gym during the pandemic an apology. The endorphins are real, y’all!
  19. Engaging with new mental and physical ailments: zero relief, but the discovery of our new depressions, anxieties, high blood pressures, and gout attacks is a wake up call to our own mortality.
  20. Dungeons & Dragons: One weeknight of relief per month. 80’s evangelicals got this one wrong — if you enjoy Tolkien or Lewis, you’ll fall in love with D&D, even if you only do it over zoom with your siblings once a month.
  21. COVID weddings: A lifetime of mutual comfort in times of sorrow. Whoever postponed the big day made a big mistake.
  22. The realization that every purchase made, show watched, and junk food ingested during the pandemic didn’t actually provide relief or sanity: Hours of relief every time you don’t make a purchase because you remember this fact about yourself and human nature.
  23. The epiphany that time with friends, family, and church fellows is one source of actual comfort and worth every extra effort to make happen: Hours of relief if you are willing to suffer through barriers like social distance, quarantines, and mask mandates. If it weren’t for months of off and on isolation, I don’t think we would have realized just how important it is to be with other people. Something that can’t be substituted by Zoom. Hugs should be on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs if they aren’t already.
  24. A perspective shift to realize that the vast majority of us still have food on the table and roof over our heads: Zero relief if you don’t believe in a benevolent God, because you’ve merely been lucky and dodged a cosmic bullet that could very well hit you next time. Infinite relief if you do believe in a benevolent God, because you recognize that everything is grace.

images via the New Yorker.

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