Man, I’m beginning to hate being on a computer. I used to love sitting down to it in the morning, leaving it for the day, and then spending some quality time on it in the evenings. Now, however, I am forced to be on it constantly, all day every day, as I teach online and have run out of physical books to read. My eyes hurt and my head aches. My lower back has started to by constantly in pain from sitting all day. I started out so motivated to stay in shape during all of this, but that has pretty much one by the wayside. It’s like the constant, inescapable bad news is wearing me down.
On the surface I’m feeling pretty good – still working (which I feel very fortunate to be doing), my family and I are so far healthy, and I’m caught up on sleep like never before. But like many people you could reach a little further down and I’m turning into a mess. My answer to a lot of unhealthy choices has been “Fuck it, why not” and as such I have gone back up a pant size. I feel like one bad moment will crack my like an egg – maybe I should go scream into my pillow to relieve some of the pressure. One thing I have not caved into yet is drinking again; thankfully, I have not given into any temptation, and right now it’s pretty easy since everything is shut. I’m even beginning to ponder if I will choose to drink again, which a few weeks ago was an impossibility. But that’s a post for another day.
Enter, puzzles. Word searches, picture puzzles, crosswords, I don’t care, gimme! At the grocery store the other day I saw one of those giant books of word searches like I used to get as a kid, and I decided to try it out. The mindlessness of it was so peaceful I completed the first eight pages of it in the first sitting. It prompted me to go to ask my mom for any old puzzles we might have tucked away somewhere, and now my coffee table is covered in little pieces that make me feel both anger and joy – two welcome emotions in a time when everything has been dulled. Crosswords are now does regularly (I suck at them) and bring great satisfaction when they are completed. And, very importantly, they are done without looking directly into a screen, thus saving my head and my eyesight a great deal of strain.
I think it’s the easy steps that make puzzles so soothing right now. You know what you have to do, you are in control of it, and you feel accomplished at the end. These little steps (like starting a puzzle with the outside edges, anyone who doesn’t is a psycho) have established some much needed routine and down time to my day. They may be the help I need to stay the course and not crack under pressure.
Another side effect I’ve noticed after starting these puzzles is that I’m more willing to do other things. Whereas the first four or five weeks I just became more lethargic and unengaged, now I’m keen to go back out for walks, to do some push ups, to make something that doesn’t come out of a box for lunch. I have a little bit more purpose. Obviously a puzzle is not going to solve all of my problems, but it has brought a little sense of much-needed peace. And that’s all I can ask for right now.