The Least-Glamorous, Most-Honest Pandemic Survival Guide On the Internet

A photo of the front of a medic alert kit with a red first aid cross and a red heart on a white background.
Photo by Claudio Schwarz.

Depending on where you are in the world, you're probably at least a month into your isolation life and if you're anything like me, your personal pandemic survival kit has done some shifting during that time.

In the beginning, there was a lot of over-compensation for what I was missing. I crammed each day full of video calls and exercise until my heart couldn't stand another screen-mediated connection and my knees hurt too much to squat.

Now that the days have morphed into years (what is time?), I have chilled a bit in how I insist on passing my time. I want to share with you my new and improved pandemic survival kit for mental health and something resembling happiness.

Sure sure sure, it includes the things everyone says you should do: going outside, judicious scheduling of video chats, baking (and other small, achievable projects like organizing closets), exercise (that doesn't kill my knees), delivering the aforementioned baking to friends, and the like.

If I am honest, though, there is much more to it than that. Here are the less-advice-column-friendly, but equally vital items in my pandemic survival kit:


An animated gif of a cat pulling a woman around by her braid. The woman is crawling beside the cat.

- Gently laying my head on my cat's side while she is purring and letting the vibrations work their way through my skull and into my brain.

- Lying down on the floor and watching as my cat walks all over me/around me.

- Taking even more pictures and videos of her than normal but not even looking at them. It just feels good to know they're there.


An animated gif of eating sushi but the sushi is social media icons.

- First of all, I am not even trying to avoid social media. It's fine. Or maybe not. Who could know?

- Engaging with Mennonite Twitter. Bet you didn't know Mennonites are on Twitter, did you? OH WE ARE EVERYWHERE. On Twitter we mostly evaluate the Mennonite-ness of recipes and snark about church. It's a gift.

- Doing those Instagram filter quizzes where a thing pops up on your head and then gives you a question or sorts you into a Hogwarts house or what-have-you. I do many in a row and instead of posting them, I save them to my phone, which might qualify me for a weird digital hoarders show.

- Posting a Q & A with myself, "how are you spending your one wild and precious life?" or "what do you do for a living?" and then answering with the very specific, dull thing I am currently doing. (I find this to be incredibly clever.)


Animated gif of a woman putting her face on a slice of bread. The bread is on a table and it is moving as if on a conveyor belt.

- Going online shopping and then not actually buying anything. (This makes me feel absurdly good about myself.)

- Watching people exercise in the park. It's an intense, choreographed dance and it is hypnotic.

- Changing my clothes multiple times a day. Either because I am leaving the house and need pants or because all of a sudden wearing my sweats just seems wrong and I simply must change into stretchy shorts and over-the-knee socks.

- Truly turning off all value judgements for everything.

What about you? What are the un-glamorous items in your pandemic survival kit? What ways are you getting through that only make sense because right now nothing makes sense?

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