By Bill Fox/Columnist
Are you like some of my friends who are having a difficult time with the restrictions in place to protect everyone from COVID? Who doesn’t miss real hugging with family members and friends? According to new research by Statistics Canada, the number of people living alone in Canada more than doubled over the last 35 years. Also, there is some evidence that individuals who live alone are more likely to suffer through social isolation or loneliness than those who live with others. For many of us, especially those who live alone, being deprived of social connection for an uncertain amount of time could exacerbate mental or physical illnesses. We were already living through an epidemic of loneliness, even before the Coronavirus pandemic started. I have some friends living alone that are very active and do not seem to be so affected by COVID restrictions.
An old saying goes, “Yesterday is gone, forget it; Tomorrow never comes, don’t worry; Today is here, get busy!” I believe this is the secret of getting through what has now been a year of lockdowns and restrictions. Keeping busy is not as easy as it first may seem. I know my wife and I try to go for a walk every single day. Our usual haunt is the high school cushioned track where I once worked. My sons have asked on occasion about when was the last time I jumped or even ran. Now, I used to play hockey until I was 50, but admit things have slowed down recently. On what I perceived to be a challenge I actually ran a small portion of the track one day with my wife recording it to quiet down my sons. I’m lucky that other than being old and overweight, I still can jog a little when required. That is not the same for all my friends. Nick, and old friend sent me the results of a recent study. “Research has shown that laughing for two minutes is just as healthy as a 20 minute jog.” So Nick, who is still young, seems to indicate that he likes to sit now on a bench in a park laughing at all of the joggers!
When the precautions were less strict, we drove to local towns and went for long walks to re-acquaint ourselves with the attractions those towns offered. Four of our favourite places to rediscover were Port Perry, Cobourg, Alliston (where our four sons were born), and our old Village of Beeton.
Another favourite place we hesitate to recommend is Lynde Shores in Whitby. When there are a lot of people in this conservation park, the animals get spooked and can hide away in the woods…so be warned! Initially we went there with birdseed to feed the chickadees that come right down to your hands to feed. However on subsequent visits we have had wild turkeys, Canada geese, and swans come over to us to share in the birdseed handouts. We have also had deer approach us to see what was going on, and on a recent visit we took photos of a large owl in the trees.
I do find that a lot of people have taken up hobbies during COVID. My wife, who used to perform at Simcoe Jazz and Blues Bar, posts a new song weekly on Facebook. She gets a lot of affirmation from people who enjoy her singing and her choice of hopeful, upbeat songs. A sister-in-law earnestly started doing complicated jigsaw puzzles. One we were particularly attracted to was a scene with a Blue Jay, Cardinal, Woodpecker and Chickadee. Pat said it was a real challenge to complete this particular jigsaw, and when we saw it we fell in love with the scene. Her husband, Al, bought a frame for it after we insisted that we would love to buy it from her. It now sits in our family room right beside a window where our bird feeder sits.
So, what about you? How do you pass the time each day to get through one day at a time? I would be pleased to forward your suggestions in a future column if you would kindly send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org.