04 Aug Rebranding August: Finding Purpose in the Uncontrollable
By Hunter Laine
So, August is here… In a weird way I feel like that sentence simultaneously needs an “already” AND a “finally”.
So, August is already here.
So, August is finally here.
I’m of two minds. I mean, in some ways I really can’t believe it’s already August. What happened to April, May, June, July… Where were the fairs, the beach trips, the festivals…?
But in other, more immediate ways, how is it STILL 2020? Hasn’t it been three years since March alone?
And from my recent conversations, it truly seems like I’m not alone. So many of the people that I speak with are struggling with these daily dichotomies.
Time is going sooo slowly and unreasonably fast.
I don’t want to go anywhere and I want to go everywhere.
I’m nervous to leave my house and I need to get out of my house.
I’m bored but I’m also so anxious.
So maybe it’s time to stop resisting (I know, I know – easier said than done) and try to lean into the world as it is. It’s different now. It’s changed and there is and will continue to be a major overhaul of life: daily, personal, professional… August is already, finally here, but it isn’t the ‘August’ of yesteryear. Those hot, dog days of summer, full of hot dogs and barbecues feel far off. No “Hot August Nights” events or old car shows to attend. But there is still an August to be had! We just have to think of it a little bit differently.
Let’s make August a month of purpose! Find something to really get involved in. As meaningful (or frivolous) as you want it to be. I’m talking about anything from a new obsession with Dr. Who (I’ve never personally been a Whovian, but with 36 seasons to catch up on, it might just be the prudent fixation for a quarantine) to active involvement in a meaningful cause. Put your energy wherever your mental and emotional health will allow it to go. No less and absolutely no more:
Mental and Emotional Health
Spend some time examining what’s going on in your mind OR, on the flip side, get out of your head. They are equally important to your overall well-being.
Center Your Mind
Pursue ways to quell your anxiety and build mental health and resilience in these trying times. Meditation, Journaling, focused breaks from pressing issues. Care For Your Coronavirus Anxiety
Binge-Watch Good TV
Spend some of the extra time you have lately to catch up on a show you never got a chance to see before. You would not believe how many times I’ve been told to watch The Wire by friends and family. Now may finally be the time. The 20 Best Long-Running TV Shows to Binge-Watch for 100 Hours or More
Go to a Drive-in Movie
The Alameda County Fair we usually flock to during summer months is out, but there’s still a reason to head to the fairgrounds in Pleasanton! They’ve partnered with Ticket to Dream (an organization that supports foster children) to bring drive-in movies to the area. Go with the whole family and check out classics like Forrest Gump and more contemporary flicks like The Secret Life of Pets. https://alamedacountyfair.com/movie-drive-ins/
If a drive-in sounds good, but Pleasanton’s a bit of a trek, check out the West Wind Drive-in Theaters in San Jose and Concord for classic double features and newer movies!
Game Night/Book Club/Happy Hour with Friends
This one’s a little all over the place, but the central, important point is: find time to connect with your friends. This pandemic is no one’s idea of an ideal situation but could you imagine what it would have been like 20 years ago (or last time there was a global pandemic in 1918…)? Today, we have almost too many video conferencing software choices and our friends and loved ones, though not physically next to us where we want them, are truly only a click away. Take advantage of this! I’ve been spending hilarious hours online with my friends playing Jackbox games weekly. Sometimes I don’t realize the amount of tension I’ve been carrying until I feel it start to melt away. Find your version of this! Maybe your crew LOVES to read and you can start a weekly book club. Or, maybe there’s a show you want to watch weekly and discuss. Maybe you’ve known this group forever and all you want to do is set up a weekly video call and have a drink while you catch up. Whatever your version of this is, make it a priority and keep up with it!
Most of us feel a whole lot better in our lives when we have some sort of physical routine or make moving a priority. That doesn’t mean we always can (or want to) make it a priority. If you can, try these out.
Start an at-home exercise routine
Are you way ahead of me on this? If so, I am glad to hear it, because I, personally, have been struggling. Maybe August is the month to pick a routine back up and start feeling physically empowered again. Start Your At-Home Workout Routine
This one’s sort of a crossover. Hiking is obviously great for your physical health (as long as you’re better than I am about putting on sunscreen), but it also does amazing things for your mental health. It always amazes me how many incredible walking, hiking, climbing, and biking areas we have around the Bay Area. Make August the month you visit a new one (every weekend?) and remember the things you are grateful for. How beautiful and amazing things are despite what’s going on in our society. The trails are completely oblivious. Their total ignorance to our problems makes it possible for us to forget for a little while too. Check out the spots we talked about here or find a hike near you.
Community Outreach and Engagement
Be a part of the community. We are physically distanced from each other, but it has been so amazing to see the civic engagement and sense of community that people have built during these times. Consider getting involved (Spoiler alert: it turns out that being a part of helping other people makes you feel better, yourself).
- Donate to or Volunteer at an amazing organization working to support local businesses and local hospital workers by buying full-priced meals from local East Bay restaurants and delivering those meals for free to our local medical heroes. East Bay Feed ER
- Support the local branch of the NAACP, fighting for racial equality. Oakland NAACP
- Sign up to volunteer once a week for 4 weeks in Oakland to organize and pack food for the surrounding, food-insecure community: Alameda County Food Bank
- Volunteer to call an isolated, elderly member of the community, twice a week: Little Brothers – Friend of the Elderly San Francisco Chapter
- Become a part of the solution, helping to keep the unhoused population safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Get involved in a work group or donate to the cause: Coalition on Homelessness – San Francisco
- Join in on Virtual Events to Learn More or donate to help the LGBT community in the Bay Area: SF LGBT Center
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but:
It’s okay to spend an entire weekend doing nothing more than marathoning movies.
Your mental health matters more than your waistband, eat a cookie if you need to.
Your neighbor/partner/best friend who gets up every morning for a run like nothing has changed is the exception, NOT the rule.
All joking aside, this is a rough time. Some days feel pretty good, and some feel unbearably overwhelming. If you are in the right headspace to grow and improve yourself, more power to you! If you aren’t, you are not alone; it is so normal. You are not broken or failing. And we are all going to come out the other side of this with a depth of empathy and humility we didn’t even realize was missing.
If I can offer you one piece of advice: Keep connecting. We are so important to each other’s mental and emotional health.
At PsiNapse, we know this. Connection is who we are and what we do.