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As per WHO’s recommendations, mass gatherings are discouraged for at least 6 to 12 months to stem the current pandemic.
However, humans are social creatures who naturally seek interaction with each other.
While social media has exploded in use recently, I realised my pessimism was getting worse the more I read infodemics online. There is only so much negativity I can handle.
Hence, I took a break from the black hole that is Facebook with the following activities:
1. Playing a Board/Card Game
Photo by author
I finally pulled my parents and siblings away from Netflix to play the game that has ruined friendships since 2013: Politiko!
It is a strategic card game where you simulate or parody Malaysian general elections with lots of tricks up your sleeve.
Based on real-life events (which allegedly did or did not occur), you can usurp your opponent with ‘schemes’ such as scandals or free giveaways for your ‘voters’. You win the game once you earn (and retain) eight voters.
We hardly play games as a family unless we’re on vacation or celebrating Chinese New Year. It did take my parents a while to understand the gameplay, despite knowing the inside jokes and references of Malaysian politics.
Some of the real-life scenarios are still relevant today though.
What I learnt was that haste and impulsivity does not pay in this game. When my mum finally displayed her eight voters, everyone laughed in jest as I made her start over from scratch with underhanded ‘schemes’.
As for myself, I lost both rounds of Politiko out of my own carelessness.
2. Attending Online Meet-Ups
[Source: Reconnect & Recharge. The author is on the right, second row.]
Social and support groups are hit hard by the MCO as they rely on physical gatherings to expand their outreach and network.
To paraphrase Bear Grylls, they ‘improvised, adapted and overcame’ these boundaries by hosting meetings via video conferencing.
One meeting I had the pleasure of attending was a Sunday tea party with Reconnect and Recharge .
We started with breathing exercises to encourage relaxation, followed by a game of ‘Self Care Bingo’, where we shared ideas on how we improved our wellbeing and self-esteem.
Then, we shared what we were grateful for during this tough time and how we hope to change from it. As a cynic by nature, I did feel thankful for what I have compared to the less fortunate. And breathing exercises do help!
Another online meet-up was a webinar on ‘Stress Management amid Covid-19’.
This session was exclusively held for adults with Asperger’s like myself, since some members from my autism support group were not coping well with the MCO.
Our moderator helped us identify how we truly felt about it via interactive mini-games describing any stress symptoms.
She then gave numerous tips on how to manage our stress, such as eating well and maintaining contact with others.
We also learnt how to spot and counter fake news, since we may lack discerning skills unlike neurotypical people.
I found most of the terminology too technical for the average layman though.
Although I did not become fast friends with the participants of both meetings, it did feel refreshing seeing and hearing a different person after three weeks of being shut in.
3. Reading a Good Book
Reading was a luxury I could not afford until the MCO.I had put off finishing books due to lethargy from long hours at work and other commitments.
So when the MCO was announced, I used the opportunity to catch up on books .
Compared to most people working from home, my job does not involve online meetings. Thus, I had a fair amount of spare time.
The average Malaysian reads only two books a year. I managed to finish one memoir during this MCO; it seems I can beat this average soon!
Thus, if it extends, I am well prepared with my unopened stash of books. My favourite genres are true crime, contemporary fiction and thrillers.
I have learnt of various foreign cultures through storytelling. For instance, it’s more interesting to know about Afghan traditions through Khaled Hosseini’s words than reading it from a technical Wikipedia article.
I also know that monsters can be real through my crime books and memoirs.
But most of all, reading helps me escape this sordid reality for a bit which immensely helps relax my mind. Pair it up with hot coffee and you’re all set!
4. Tabata Workout Group Exercise
[Image via JL Fitness Miami]
Of course, exercising was inevitable, despite my many excuses. One of them was that I no longer live in a landed property with a garden, thus reducing space to work out.
Another was that my condominium management had closed off our gym due to MCO. But recently, I turned my room into a makeshift gym.
I didn’t need any fancy equipment or nature’s ambience like on normal days. I realised that all I needed was exercise buddies to suffer / spend time together with.
Thus, while practising social distancing via Zoom, my colleagues and I would exercise together daily after work with Tabata exercises.
Tabata’s namesake originated from Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese sports scientist who devised a special form of sports training.
It involves short bursts of high-intensity but simple exercises, followed by short rests to condition the body to function at maximum capacity.
As a result, you improve both your heart rate and muscle strengthening.
[Getting together for a workout]
Compared to walking briskly on a treadmill for an hour (which was my chosen form of exercise), our Tabata workouts last only half an hour.
As I learnt from the webinar from my previous post, it seems exercise does help with my mood physiologically, combined with the added socialization and pounds shed from a sedentary lifestyle.
It may seem daunting to have imposed restrictions on our freedom, but it’s a social responsibility to prevent the outbreak from spreading.
It is up to you to see this MCO from a different perspective and cope with it in a healthy, positive way by using your time wisely.
What other wholesome activities would you recommend to make the most of your time at home? In the meantime, stay healthy and stay safe, Malaysians!
For more stories like this, read: Gloves v.s. Alcohol Wipes — Which is Better? Here Are 5 Tips to Beat the MCO and I Challenged Myself to Cook Every Day Because I’m A 29-Year-Old Who Only Knows How To Toast Bread.