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The pandemic shrank our social circles. It’s time to expand them.

Photo: Markus Spiske via Unsplash

“I’ll tell you one thing, I’m sick of this damn Covid thing.” Carl and I had never met before, but on this we immediately found common ground.

Carl came out to our family’s cabin in New Hampshire to make some long-overdue repairs. We chatted about the weather and the astronomical price of lumber before talking about the pandemic.

In many ways, Carl and I were completely different: I lived in an apartment in New York City; he lived in the countryside on 10 acres with his dog. I spent most of the pandemic in the hospital treating patients; he spent…

How to give yourself space to work through your grief

Blurred image of people walking at a crosswalk in a city.
Blurred image of people walking at a crosswalk in a city.
Photo: d3sign / Getty Images

The topic of “The Anniversary” started showing up in my therapy sessions sometime in late January or early February. Over the past few weeks, it’s become an increasingly popular topic among my clients, many of whom have given voice to feelings I myself struggled to put into words.

Some therapists have described the Covid-19 pandemic as an experience of collective trauma. Others have carefully delineated the difference between a collective stressor, and collective trauma — though they note that certainly some have experienced traumatic stress (loss of loved ones, loss of employment, or the trauma experienced by health care workers…

It’s easier than you think, and it’s never been more important

Photo: Drazen_/Getty Images

A few weeks ago, after listening to days of weather forecasts predicting a dramatic snowstorm in my city — and procrastinating on any sort of winter-weather prep — I made my way to Target for an ice scraper just as the snow started to fall. The aisles were bare of all the usual pre-storm suspects: milk, eggs, bread, disinfecting wipes, and, most importantly, anything related to snow removal.

In a stroke of luck, I managed to snag the last scraper in the store, a fact the register attendant commented on as I brought my prize over to checkout. I don’t…

Reading the emails I sent one year ago today is sad, but also strangely comforting

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There is considerable debate as to the exact date of the one-year anniversary of the pandemic in the United States. Is it January 21, when the first case of Covid-19 was discovered in the United States? Or is it February 6, when we had our first death? March 6, when 21 passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship tested positive? I personally think the anniversary is March 11, when then-President Trump gave his wobbly, error-riddled Oval Office speech, Tom Hanks tested positive, and the NBA shut down.

Your date may be different. But no matter what, we’re all in that…

😷 Today’s tip: Devote a hook to each mask-wearer in the household.

We’ve gotten good at making sure our masks fit properly and that we wear them when necessary, but what happens once we’re back home again?

Elemental executive editor Anna Maltby shared her family’s brilliant hack for keeping masks organized and sanitary: For their three-mask-wearers, she attached five hooks to the wall near their door. One hook holds their supply of currently clean masks. One hook has her mask for the day, the next has her husband’s, the next has her son’s. And the last hook corrals all the…

It’s time to stop insisting everything’s fine when you’re actually drowning

Photo: Gary Yeowell / Getty Images

For many of us, a significant percentage of pandemic life has been dedicated to processing how difficult it is to live through pandemic life. We’ve encouraged one another to acknowledge that we’re not okay, made all the intellectual arguments for why social isolation is so crippling, delved into the ways in which being stuck in our homes is breaking our bodies and our minds. We’ve shouted from the rooftops that this is hard.

So why does it still feel so unnatural — maybe even a little embarrassing — to be fully transparent about how not-okay we are? …

💉 Today’s tip: Start a “vaccinated” list.

Yes, the vaccine rollout has been slow and messy and frustrating in a hundred different ways. But it’s happening, and keeping track of how it’s happening in your own life is one way to feel like we’re making real progress in ending the pandemic. The therapist Kathleen Smith recently tweeted a great idea: “I started a list on the fridge of family and friends who’ve been vaccinated, and it feels so great every time I get to add somebody.”

Keep your own list, and whenever things start to feel overwhelming again, re-read those…

😷 Today’s tip: Use rubber bands to make your mask fit securely.

Whether you’re a glasses wearer fighting foggy lenses, or simply a person who doesn’t love the sensation of a mask riding up into your eye sockets, you know how annoying it is to wear a mask that doesn’t fit well. And Robert Roy Britt writes in Elemental, “No matter how good the material, a mask must fit tight to be effective, leaving no gaps for air to enter or exit unfiltered.” ‘

The good news is, all you need for a perfect fit is a rubber band. Okay…

Woman on the phone while holding a piece of paper.
Woman on the phone while holding a piece of paper.
Photo: 10'000 Hours/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Perhaps someone in your life needs a little bit of convincing to get a lifesaving, pandemic-ending vaccination. Their reasons may be grounded in something real, like historical trauma due to the health care system’s legacy of racism. Or they may be the byproduct of — as you see it, anyway — complete, incomprehensible boneheadedness.

Whether your first reaction is to nod in sympathy or to recommend that they get their heads checked for brain worms, you’re likelier to change their mind if you first ask yourself some questions about your own motivations and tactics.

The productivity and creativity expert Barry…

Photo: Gary Coronado/Contributor/Getty Images

😷 Today’s tip: Use a fact-checking website to cut through Covid vaccine misinformation.

Already, there’s plenty of confusion floating around about the Covid vaccine. On Elemental’s sprawling guide, Tara Haelle explains how to separate vaccine fact from fiction: “Places to go for accurate information include the CDC (which already has a FAQ about Covid vaccines), the FDA, major hospital websites such as Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center, and reliable fact-checker websites,” she writes. You can find a list of those websites here, courtesy of the University of California. It’s a good time to use them liberally.

📚 More…


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