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#25: Keep calm and carry on… at home on your couch

#25: Keep calm and carry on… at home on your couch

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Welcome to another Muthafuggin’ Monday email, the only weekly newsletter that promises it’s only going to watch one more episode, then go to bed… then watches the whole series. Each week, I throw three interesting ideas at you to hopefully make you a slightly less awful person. This week, we’re talking: 1) managing your mental health while locked down, 2) the importance of long-term visions and goals, and 3) is love still not enough? 

Let’s get into it. 

1. The oncoming mental health crisis – What do you get when you socially isolate hundreds of millions of people, encourage them to stay indoors as much as possible and make it difficult for them to find meaningful work, regular exercise, and healthy nutrition? 

That’s right, a shitload of depressed people. 

A lot has been said about the global lockdown’s effect on the economy, but little has been said about the impending mental health crisis we’re all likely going to face in the coming months. I already feel myself slightly cracking every few days, and we’re only a couple weeks in. Imagine three months from now. 

This past week, I was suffering one of my worst moods since the quarantine started, so I wrote a full article for the site. It’s kind of dark, but it’s also honest and hopefully useful. Please read it. 

Read: Surviving the Oncoming Mental Health Crisis

2. What does the future hold? – These past few weeks, everything is still a bit novel and interesting, but it occurred to me that we’re effectively going to be living in Groundhog Day for the next few months. Sure, right now it’s interesting to compare notes on how our parents are doing or how homeschooling the kids is going. But a month from now? It will be like a bad song stuck on repeat… for months. 

Part of the difficulty finding anything else meaningful to talk about is that there is currently no expectation on when this will end or when our lives will revert back to some sense of normalcy. Because there’s so much uncertainty over the next year or two, I’ve found that it’s impossible to set meaningful goals or visions and therefore have other things to hold interest or talk about. 

I’ve noticed that these past couple of weeks my thinking has reverted to becoming extremely short-term, only really thinking about making it through the next couple of weeks, days, or even hours. This is probably why I said last week that I feel like I’m in college again. With no long-term accountability on any of us, we revert to simply thinking about what is most pleasing and satisfying moment-to-moment. Ultimately, we need some sort of long-term vision for ourselves to help us navigate the day-to-day decisions, and to give us something meaningful to think and talk about, apart from how many people died yesterday. 

So, here’s what I’ve decided: assume the worst. Assume we’re going to be stuck at home for most of the year, then work off of that. I’ve asked myself: if I had eight to nine months where I more or less had to stay home and everything else in my life was cancelled, including socializing, what would I do with that time?

In my case, the most logical answer is to finish the book I’m working on and bang out another one. In normal times, a book takes me roughly a year to write. But that’s when I’m dividing my time between multiple projects, traveling constantly, and drinking too many Old Fashioneds with friends once or twice a week. With the extra bandwidth and tons of free time, another book is totally doable in six to eight months. So, why not do it? 

And that’s my new goal. My new north star during this time. I’m going to operate as though that were the case. Because, as I’ve written before, the benefits of goals aren’t in achieving them, it’s that they give us direction and meaning. Deciding this for myself has helped me a lot in the past few days and I recommend you give it a try.

3. Love is (still) not enough – Speaking of books, for those who don’t know, I released an Audible Original project about relationships, called Love is Not Enough

A lot of people have been asking about it, so here’s the quick and dirty: 

  • It’s roughly seven and a half hours long. Great to listen to while doing housework or avoiding your kids. 
  • I’d say it’s 70% me having conversations with people about their life problems and 30% me monologuing about important concepts and various lessons. 
  • It is only in English and only on Audible. There will not be a print version (it’s conversation-based!) 
  • It will instantly solve all of your relationship problems and anxieties, making you permanently happy forever and ever. 
  • Okay, that last bullet was a lie, just checking to see if you’re still paying attention. 

A lot of readers have emailed me about their struggles from spending so much time with their partners, spouses, kids, and parents. I said this before but I’ll say it again: there’s no better time to shore up your relationship skills than now. After all, if you’re going to be stuck in a house with these people for at least the next three to six months, you better learn how to deal with them. 

Early reviews have been raving, which is not always a given. But it makes my writerly-ego sing.  Please check it out: 

Listen: Love is Not Enough 

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay sane. 

Until next week,

Mark