By John Rolfe / Red Hook, NY
If 2022 is anything like 2021 (or 2020 for that matter), your sanity will need a cushion or three. Herewith some friendly advice from an Average Joe who has been employing these principles and is (not yet, anyway) pulling the wings off flies while cackling maniacally.
Common sense is your best friend
Like the flu, Covid is here to stay. New strains, waves of cases, and ever-changing recommendations about masks, vaccines and daily behavior will be coming at you in a bewildering torrent for at least the next year or two. Rather than let your head spin like a weather vane in a typhoon, just do what you would reasonably do when flu season arrives or people around you are battling colds, stomach bugs and other communicable maladies you do not wish to contract.
Don’t go to crowded places (especially indoors) unless you have to or really, really want to. Keep your distance if you can. Wear a mask. Get the recommended two doses of vaccine, and a booster. Then relax in the knowledge that you’ve done the best you can do. Second-guessing yourself every day will only stress you out.
A reveal: I absolutely loathe and distrust our so-called healthcare system, especially Big Pharma and its profit-and-pill-driven approach to everything. But with Covid, getting vaccinated was the most sensible option. Flirting with this virus is like playing Russian Roulette. You never know how it will hit you or anyone else for that matter.
I contracted it at the same time as a co-worker with whom I had been working in close quarters. I suffered eight days of fever, loss of appetite, queasiness and one brutal bout of upchucking. My colleague was hospitalized. Other people I know have lost loved ones.
Feel lucky? Well, do ya?
It is my understanding that Covid vaccines were not hastily cooked up from scratch. They are based on existing formulas to combat the related SARS and MERS viruses. I got two shots six months ago and have yet to hear Bill Gates’ or Joe Biden’s voices in my head telling me to hop up and down on one foot, flap my arms like a chicken, and stuff ballot boxes on behalf of Democrats.
I and none of the many vaccinated people I know have suffered any side effects other than the arm soreness and a day of malaise we were warned about. There’s a risk attached to anything you put in your body, and given the possible consequences of Covid, the vaccine just seems like a risk worth taking.
Do I expect to be 100 percent protected? Heck no. No one has ever said I would be.
Will I get a booster? Yes. My appointment is January 15.
I had Covid before I was vaccinated. So in my mind, I’ve already had three doses (one naturally), but one more to be safe seems sensible. After that, I’m not going to sweat it. I’ll go with the assumption that my protective measures will at least ward off a worst-case scenario: a stay in the meat house. And leave me to dwell on more pleasant things in the New Year.
Take care of yourself
It only stands to reason that if you’re healthy, you’re better able to ward off bad things, like a severe case of Covid. Eat well (less processed and junk food, more fruits and vegetables are recommended). Get some exercise (walks are fine). Get enough sleep. Steal a nap here and there if you can. Learn relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing. All of these basic things will improve your mental state as well as your physical condition. A good outlook is crucial in this mean old world.
Take care of your piggy bank
Financial security can be tricky to achieve, but there are many simple, easy things you can do to limit unnecessary expenses, save money and avoid the anxiety that comes with a stack of bills you don’t have the fundage to cover. Take a close look at what you are spending your hard-earned doubloons on. Do you really need some things? Are there cheaper alternatives? My wife Victoria frequently writes about the surprisingly ample rewards of a frugal lifestyle for this site and her Bright Future blog. Minimizing all kinds of stress is important in a stressful world. Money woes are a biggie.
Limit your exposure to media
Assess your life as it actually is, not as you are led to believe it is or will be by what comes to you on your phone, computer, TV or radio. Most of it is negative and downright threatening. Why waste time on futile insult battles on Facebook and Twitter? Go ahead if you enjoy elevating your aggravation levels and blood pressure.
There is no need to agonize over every bit of Covid speculation. There will be plenty of it. Or to be aware of every time Donald Trump farts crosswise. Or some venal boob in Congress utters something inflammatory. Or someone goes bonkers in a store or on a plane. Media (social and mainstream) mainly serve to convince you that everyone is nuts and the world is going to Hades in a ribbon-adorned handbasket that has you snug in its confines.
Focus, instead, on daily interactions, your family and friends, the people you care about and who care about you, and the things that bring you joy, satisfaction and contentment.
You don’t have to play ostrich. Be concerned, certainly, about what is going on in your community, but keep in mind that all any of us can do is take control of ourselves and try to have a positive effect on those around us. Hopefully that positivity will ripple outwards. Besides, it feels good to be kind and patient, to keep your head when those around you are misplacing theirs. Feeling good is crucial when so much that goes on can make you feel bad.
Count your blessings
An attitude of gratitude is vitally important. It’s too easy to focus on negatives all the time. They never go out of style and it is only human nature to keep your eye on them. But having a roof over your head and good food to eat, and even small, simple enjoyments like a fine cup of coffee or tea, a hot refreshing shower or a pet you love bring positive emotions. Don’t take the good stuff for granted. It’s there. Embrace it and 2022 will be easier to endure.
John Rolfe is a former senior editor for Sports Illustrated for Kids, a longtime columnist for the Poughkeepsie Journal/USA Today Network, and author of The Goose in the Bathroom: Stirring Tales of Family Life. His school bus drivin’ blog “Hellions, Mayhem and Brake Failure” is parked on his website Celestialchuckle.com (https://celestialchuckle.com) with the meter running.