Six Things I Did During the Pandemic that Kept Me Sane
It has been hard for me not to get depressed over the past year as I witnessed the devastating toll covid has had on our world. This depressive feeling had been foreign to me as I have always tried to stay happy and upbeat when faced with challenges. After the first couple of months of the pandemic when I realized there was no short term relief in sight, I had a hard time shaking off feelings of doom and gloom and knew I needed to “act” in order to prevent myself from spiraling into a deep depressive state.
As 2020 was supposed to be “my year”. I had retired from the corporate world in 2019 and 2020 was the year I had planned to travel more to visit long lost friends and relatives. I secured a flexible role at a not for profit with good health insurance and was ready to finally enjoy my freedom and leave my 80 hour work weeks, and life embroiled in corporate bureaucracy behind.
I decided to take more control of my life and do things that I thought would make me happy that I never had time to do before.
Here are the six things I did:
- I built a bucket list of waterfall hikes in Arizona that I could do alone or with friends while social distancing.
I had always wanted to hike many of the beautiful waterfalls in Arizona and made a plan to do two a month. Plus there is nothing more magical or uplifting than to gaze at a flowing waterfall on a brisk sunny day. I planned one big waterfall hike to Bob Bear Trail in Strawberry, AZ with two friends.
2. I started “paying it forward” at any chance I could to lift my spirits and others.
I had always thought about paying for a coffee for the person behind me at a Starbucks drive through to brighten someone’s day but never took the time to do it. I randomly bought 20 $5 Starbucks gift cards and gave them out to strangers on local hiking trails .This small gesture brought me an unexpected adrenaline rush of joy and also brightened the day of random strangers who were the recipients of these gifts.
3. I started writing
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a journalism degree over 36 years ago with aspirations of becoming the next Phyllis George but instead of writing, I sold out and took a career that paid well in the insurance industry which was very unfulfilling. I started writing random articles on “Medium” a couple months ago and find this provides better use of my free time than watching Netflix, and it also provides me with a feeling of accomplishment.
4. I started a not for profit.
I am a five year breast cancer survivor and in the past two year, the uncertainty of my future started to alter my thought processes on my priorities. I felt a strong desire to do something that helped those less fortunate. I started “Kristi’s Klimbers Foundation, a 501c3 non profit dedicated to supporting the cancer community with my family and fellow survivors about six months into the pandemic. Our foundation plans to host at least two events a year for cancer patients and survivors including free make up sessions and free mammograms.
5. I reconnected with family
My extended family from all across the world started Saturday morning Zoom calls to connect. I was used to seeing most of these people every five years or so at funerals and weddings. I enjoyed seeing and hearing how family members were spending their time in isolation and it did not make me feel so alone. My immediate family also started monthly zoom calls and I now feel more connected to my two 20 something nieces than ever before.
6. I got up each morning to do a 60 minute sunrise hike
My daily 6:30 a.m. sunrise hikes have probably been the main reason I have a more positive outlook on things. The endorphins start triggering positive feelings in my brain a few minutes into the hike.
The past year has been a challenge for us all but I am pleased the pandemic forced me to do things that I would have never focused on before, and these things have kept my spirits up and helped me remain optimistic about the future.