Weird pandemic coping mechanisms?

I have this new thing I do when I get nervous about the future and start to stress out about the pandemic: I buy boardgames.

This is totally random and irrational. I’ve only played like four of the new games I’ve bought in the past two months, but I have this thing where I’m like: “Crap, if it gets real bad I may not be able to buy this game I’ve been eyeing…. I should just pull the trigger now.”

I guess there are worse coping mechanisms I can think of, so even though it can get a little expensive it’s mostly harmless. Plus, boardgames don’t really get obsolete and can be enjoyed for decades, and they don’t require power or other critical infrastructure, so they’re sort of prepper-friendly.

A lot of my friends have gotten into bread baking. I have a yeast allergy, so that’s not an option for me.

Anyone else have any weird pandemic coping things they’ve picked up? As in, something that’s kind of quirky and doesn’t exactly make a ton of sense, but it’s just how you deal?


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    • 3

      While it’s not exactly “weird” – gardening.  The joke is that instead of spending time with friends, going to a bar, or seeing a show “gardening” is the new “going out” weekend event.

      Also – “retail therapy” is a thing.  I’m trying hard not to buy a new gaming PC, but the struggle is real (I don’t even “game” much or have a real need, I just want to buy stuff…).

      • 2

        Same with the retail therapy and even the new gaming PC. I actually tried to score a second Switch the other day… to have on hand just in case the first one breaks, of course… obviously it’s a critical prep ;-).

        But I don’t even have time to play the gaming systems I already have, so a new one would be really dumb. Still, the urge to sooth anxiety by shopping is strong right now.

    • 3

      My thing is buying more canned goods and other storable food. And organizing the pantry in the basement. It’s not really weird, but it’s definitely a stress response

      • 1

        I’ve definitely bought more canned soup than I normally would. The positive is that I learned that I like minestrone. I’ve been experimenting with adding a little hot sauce to some of them. Not bad!

    • 3

      Well, for me, honestly, it has been becoming a prepper! And the first step down this (in a good way) rabbit hole was that New York Times article that referred to this site. Okay, I admit, I had to overcome associating the word “prepper” with camo-wearing conspiracy theorist a bit, but the rationale for prepping had been building for a long time. One, I’ve lived in NYC for about 14 years and was here through Hurricane Sandy. I was lucky in that I live uptown and it didn’t affect me too much, but it sure could have been different. Secondly, I live in an old brownstone coop. In January of ’18, in the middle of an extreme cold spell, our boiler gave out, and it took a good three weeks to get a new one installed and up and running, so that was three weeks without heat or hot water. My mother was then alive and living with me. She was 91 and with advanced dementia. Luckily, she was then in a rehab facility for a few weeks after a short hospital stay. Had it happened while she was at home, it would have been truly awful. After hovering around space heaters and sleeping under a zillion blankets and showering at the gym for a week or so and nothing being resolved, I was able to take off for my sons’ place for a bit. It could have been worse.

      THEN, last summer, there was a gas leak, and our building was red-flagged by Con Edison, and the gas shut off. So now no hot water, heat, OR cooking. Months and months of permits, repairs, inspections, more repairs, and we finally got the hot water and heat back in October, just in time to not have to pull out the space heaters again. We STILL don’t have the cooking back. We were just about to get that done when COVID hit and shut us down. So I’ve been cooking on an electric hot plate and slow cooker and microwave. Until we got the hot water back, I was heating water on the hot plate and in the microwave, putting it in a plastic watering can with shower-type spout and a replenishment pot, sitting on a shower chair in the tub, and giving myself a “shower” (no way I was going to do cold showers).

      I mean, I think of myself as a very resilient problem-solving kind of person, but once COVID came it started occurring to me that problem-solving on the fly wasn’t going to cut it. I needed to be prepared! NYC was frankly behind the curve, and it took a while in the beginning for grocery stores to even do minimal capacity control, social distancing, and no one was wearing a mask. Since I’m 65, I wasn’t keen on going into the stores, but getting a delivery slot was really difficult. It has all gotten better, but it sure ain’t hard for my mind to start thinking — well, what if the food supply chain does get really messed up? And what if, say, the electricity goes out, and then I don’t have either gas or electric cooking, and the stuff in my fridge starts going bad. I’m screwed!

      So with the help of this friendly rabbit hole, I started putting together something of a plan. I ordered a 2-week emergency food bucket (which I’m still waiting on because, duh, they’re incredibly backed up). In the meantime, I completely cleaned out and organized my pantry, taking stock of what I had and starting to stock up. I started dehyrating foods — cooked noodles, cooked beans, fruit, veggies, cooked rice. I got oxygen absorbers, desiccants, mylar bags. I already had a vacuum sealer. And I started scouring the web for backpacking type meals, as well as making meal kits with canned and dried foods. I found half a dozen enhanced ramen-based meals (ditch the “flavor” pack for some PB, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Srichacha, some freeze-dried veggies, and some chicken…). So now I have at least two weeks worth of more-or-less shelf-stable meals that pretty much only require boiling a cup or so of water. Oh, and I got a little folding sterno stove with sterno, which should be able to accomplish that, and I plan on getting a little backpacking stove and some propane (which I will only use by a cracked-open window) that I can put into my bugout bag. And I got my 15 gallons of stored water.

      I mean, I love to cook, so this has been mostly play time. It feels good. But, yeah, definitely my COVID stress reliever.  But I don’t think it’s weird!

      • 2

        Yeah, to cope I also became a prepper. I feel like I’m not so prepared where I get my own show on National Geographic, but I definitely now  have a prepper pantry and enough canned goods to last a month. And, er, 78 rolls of toilet paper.

        I started storing water last year after we had a massive water main break where we were under boil water for half a week.

    • 3

      I keep rereading William Gibson’s The Peripheral and wondering if we are in a shitty stub where this is just the beginning of the unpleasantness that future-folk have in store for us… Also, probably spending more time than I should flintknapping and making spears for my boys.

    • 2

      I’ve found myself using masking tape and a marker to date leftover meal containers and items put in the freezer. As I put away leftover meals (or put stuff in the freezer), I also rotate the stock (like how you do with canned foods and expiration dates, most recent to the back and oldest to the front). I’ve found that this really helps prevent food spoilage because my sense of time (like a lot of people) has gotten a little warped.

    • 3


      I began prepping as a coping mechanism.

      And like some of the other comments, I began a vegetable garden.

    • 3

      Not weird really, but I started running a lot more.  I was doing occasional runs along with other fitness prior to Covid.  But now I have a regular schedule averaging about 15-20miles a week. And when I’m running I will often reach a point where I give myself a pep talk–especially on longer runs.  Something about SIP lowers my self-consciousness, so someone nearby might hear “you can do it!  You got this!  Look how far you’ve gone already!.”  It makes a difference.