What's Tony Thinking

An Upside to a Lockdown?

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Here in Washington State we are in week one of a new four week period of tightened restrictions due to the increase in COVID cases. Essentially we have returned to the “lockdown” of last spring.

A new lockdown has brought with it a renewal of what we’ve been struggling with all along — an inability to make plans, calling off plans that have been made, figuring out how hunker down again. And for some, businesses and employment again in jeopardy.

Is there any upside to a lockdown?

Yes, according to a study released by the Institute for Family Studies in October. Based on research conducted between May and July the study found that families are closer, teens are talking more with their parents, and kids are getting more — and needed — sleep.

That tallies with my own anecdotal observations. From our third floor perch we look out on a viewpoint park that overlooks Shilshole Bay and the Puget Sound. This morning the snowy Olympic Mountains, to the west, are the crown of that view.

Just under a mile north, up the street, is the beachfront Golden Gardens Park. Throughout the spring I had the impression that I saw many more families outside together, on bike rides, walking, and having picnics. The IFS study confirms this perception.

My other information source are the families of our two sons. In particular I noticed that the older boys in each family were getting more sleep and were better for it. They were spending less time, no time really, at things like soccer, karate lessons and scouts. While that’s a loss, it also meant less drive time and pressure on parents and kids to keep a busy schedule.

If you were to point out, that I’m not the one cooped up with small children, you would, of course, be right. I have been on grandchild care enough to know it can be exhausting.

But overall the IFS study does find an upside in lockdown. Teens talking more to their parents. Teens getting more sleep. And a decline in the reported incidence of teen depression.

IFS staff member and psychoanalyst, Emily Komisar, writes, “Not all the news from the IFS study is good. Teens reported higher levels of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life, as you’d expect when they’re deprived of activity and contact with peers,” like the rest of us I might add.

“But,” continues Komisar, “with more sleep and less academic pressure, they are less depressed and becoming more resilient. There’s always opportunity in adversity, even in a deadly pandemic.”

On a different topic, in recent notes from readers you’ve expressed appreciation when I share one of my paintings. That could be dangerous. Just kidding.

Thank you. So here’s another. From a walk last winter in the Columbia Gorge where our daughter, Laura, lives. Lot’s of intriguing basalt formations! Sorry the photo is not a bit larger or close up. Anyhow, for me getting outside is key to coping with another lockdown. A little harder this time of year. But what’s the ¬†saying, “No bad weather, just bad gear.”

Hang in there. And prayers for all those ill with COVID or who know someone close to them who is.

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