Sheltering at home when it is cool, rainy and not that great outside was kind of cozy. Whether you were still working or retired, you could hang out all day in your PJ’s or sweats, and not have to worry about who was going to drop by. Even if you had a Zoom or a Skype appointment, you only had to do brush your hair and put on a clean shirt.

Fast forward to today, a few days after Memorial Day, which is for all intents and purposes the start of summer. For many people in our area summer is one big group gathering. Whether it is family picnics, day trips with the grandchildren, art fairs, festivals, walks down State Street or sitting in the courtyard outside of the senior center. Although restrictions have been reduced, we may be entering an even more challenging phase of the pandemic.

For me, summer means sunshine, being outside, having people over to hang out on my patio, community festivals, and lots of art fairs. I can still go outside and soak up the sunshine, but let’s face it, after 2 ½ months of walking twice a day with my husband, who is also home all day with me, the conversation is starting to dwindle. I am craving social interaction, outdoor music and even (just a little) crowded sidewalks.

This is a real conundrum. What do we do? It is really important that we acknowledge how this makes us feel, and how it effects our daily living. It is okay to be angry or sad or frustrated. Take advantage of support and discussion groups that are meeting online. Learn how to use platforms like Zoom, Skype or GoToMeeting. You can’t hug each other, but it really does help to see the people you are talking to. Other things you can do include emailing or calling friends or family that you have not seen in a while, being honest when asked how things are going, or getting a pen pal. The Senior Center has a great Pen Pal program, and all of the volunteers are vetted and background checked.

You should also know that it is okay to be confused. How far away to you really need to be from other people? Does it matter whether you are inside or outside? Does a mask really protect you? Do you really need a mask outdoors? Is herd immunity a real thing? Who do I believe: CDC, DHS, PHMDC, CNN, and the list goes on…? I recommend not tuning into the news more than once a day, and even that might be more than what is necessary.

Common sense goes a long way in navigating this novel situation. Wash your hands when appropriate. Carry hand sanitizer to use when you can’t wash your hands. Wear a mask when in public settings, especially indoors or where social distancing is not possible. Remember the mask is more to protect others than yourself. The crazy thing about this virus is that you can be asymptomatic for several days, or even the entire time that you have it.

Try not to let the hype about the virus consume you. We are living with a new normal, but we can still go on and do things that we enjoy. We can still have contact with friends and loved ones; we just need to be a little more careful. Remember that one family member or friend who you laughed at because they were a “germaphobe”? Well now the shoe is on the other foot. My motto for this summer is “Keep on The Sunny Side”.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Madison Senior Center and a link back to the original post.