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Noah Paessel

Getting through it

Its the second week of January in 2021, and I may be one of the few people who is feeling better this week. It comes on the heels of being very depressed and anxious for months leading up to the election and the very dark Covid winter we knew we were entering.

Here are some thoughts and practices that are keeping me sane. Full disclosure: I am fortunate to have been spared the worst of this horrible year. Some these are aspirational, meaning "I am working on it."

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I see the scary and destructive trends in the world around us, and have some real trials in my personal life too. But I am open to the possibility that things might not as bad as they seem.

Media companies (both 'traditional' and 'social') have a fiduciary responsibility that involves hijacking our limbic system for shareholder value. Our "engagement" drives ad revenue, and nothing engages us more than strong emotions and online arguments. I try to notice the platforms that enrage me and avoid them.

Yes, the world is a hot mess, but I have the right to forget it for a while and not chase every ambulance. When I look around, I see the beautiful valley where I live, my lovely family, and the warm community surrounding me.

There are many things I can't fix. The failing health of a loved one, a global pandemic, and the escalation of inflammatory rhetoric in our national politics are all beyond my control. Recognizing my limitations makes me happier and lets me focus on things I can do.

I believe our current situation is like a societal inoculation. This year has been terrible, and it might get worse. However, it helps us find the vulnerabilities of our government, our media, and our health care system. Now that they are so obviously exposed, I am confident we can fix them. When my children express concern about 2020 and now 2021, I remind them of all the plagues, imperialism, oppressive governments, and horrific wars that have shaped humanity so far.

I stopped pressuring myself to "make good use" of my time in lockdown. I reject the notion that this is a time to complete my magnum opus. I just need to get through it.

I am trying to be more grounded in the moment: my immediate surroundings, the landscape, the weather, and my breath. I started doing yoga at home by watching YouTube instructors, like Yoga with Adreien. I am learning to meditate using Headspace.

I take walks every day with my family. Being outside, breathing the fresh air, and talking to people I love, has been wonderful.

I bought a therapy lamp. I sit in front of this thing for 30 minutes in the morning. I am not 100% sure if it's helping, but clinical trials suggest it should! :D

I bake a lot of desserts, I enjoy wine, ocassionally some cannabis, and I sleep more than usual. I drink less coffee. I drink more chamomile tea, and I take vitamin supplements that (allegedly) help with mental function and enhance mood.

I use the money I would have used on travel, dining, and entertainment on subscription services and support my favorite creators through Patreon.

Maybe I am completely wrong about all of this, and civilization is about to collapse. Even so, I recommend chilling the fork out.