Dragging On

Today suddenly feels more bleak.

I want to sleep all the time. We’ve had warmer weather and some sunshine, but getting outside to walk feels like an absolute chore.

I sense that I’m not alone, that the isolation is becoming a heavier load for many of my friends as well.

For the first several weeks, I made a point of getting in at least one vigorous walk per day, weather permitting. I’ve been slacking on that this week, partly because my feet have been hurting from all the walks. Typically, I exercise vigorously several times a week, but in my rec center’s lap pool. I haven’t been there since March 11. And I’m feeling the results of that neglect.

Today started out foggy. I took a nap mid-morning. I dozed off a little in the early afternoon as well. But then I saw the sky. It was sunny. The weather app on my phone indicated the temperature was 72. Even so, I nearly had to force myself to leave my apartment.

I went outside in short sleeves and capri-length yoga pants. And flip-flops. Instead of focusing on a workout, I threw all my attention into soaking up the sunshine. I strolled. No power walking today. I sat outside on benches in the plaza in front of the Morris Civic Auditorium. I strolled on the sidewalks and grass in the park. I admired the perfection of the daffodils and the blossoms of the weeping cherry trees.

The Morris Civic Auditorium plaza.

The Morris schedules a free summer concert series at noon on Fridays every summer, and concert-goers fill this plaza and lawn most weeks. There is an abundance of food trucks, and often people get up and dance to the music. There’s no telling whether those concerts will take place this summer.

From this angle, the path of the park seems to lead straight to the back of my apartment building.

The half hour or so that I spent outside in the sun changed my day — and my outlook. Sunshine is our best source of vitamin D, and studies dating back several decades verify that vitamin D is an essential mood regulator. Depression very often is linked to low vitamin D levels. But I don’t think you have to know much about science to understand that a little sunshine lifts the spirit.

More recently, research has demonstrated that people deficient in vitamin D are more likely to have cardiovascular disease. Supplementation does not always solve the problem. But sunshine does, I’m certain.

I worry that hiding away from exposure to the novel coronavirus may cause other health problems should we start eating poorly, neglect exercise and forget about that daily dose of sunshine.

Tonight, as I write this blogpost, first responders in our community are parading our three local hospitals with lights and sirens to honor medical workers. From my living room window I watched and listened as emergency vehicles surrounded Memorial Hospital, just four blocks north of where I sit. It’s my reminder that we’re all in this together, each one supporting the other. May it ever be.

Tonight’s light and siren parade of emergency vehicles surrounding Memorial Hospital, South Bend, Indiana.

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