The right way to spend your spare time

by Eric Daniels

While many people chose to isolate during the coronavirus with Netflix, Netflix and more Netflix others used their spare time to learn new skills or contact old friends. Whatever choice you made, it was the right one. While some people took the time to learn a new skill and they should be commended for their efforts, others chose to catch up on some tv shows that needed binging. That was not a bad choice either, as if that was what you felt you needed at the time, then it was the right thing for your well being and that is what is most important. One man though may have actually outdone us all. Alex Russell decided to clean up the streets.

Alex Russell is 21 years old and struggles with anxiety and depression. When the coronavirus pandemic began he struggled with his mental health and coping with the constant influx of negative stories and statistics on rising infections and deaths. He decided he couldn’t stay cooked up in his home. He was looking for something to do to keep him busy and chose to go outside and weed his front yard, something many of us have worked up the energy to do during this crazy time. From there though, Alex looked out onto the pavement and saw that the whole street could do with some weeding. So he did that too.

He then decided to keep going. Alex has now finished weeding four streets and says he would love to do the entire town. While Alex was outside during quarantine he says it was not an issue. He checked with the police first and they were happy as long as he was maintaining social distance. The quarantine also meant that the streets were incredibly quiet, it was the perfect time to weed the pavements.

Alex takes every precaution possible while cleaning the streets. He wears a facemask, he uses gloves and he has some sanitizer nearby that he applies if required. The local community has responded positively, with most people stopping to tell him what a great job he is doing (from a distance of course). A number of people even dropped off some easter eggs to his house as an extra way to say thank you. 

Alex said the act of cleaning the streets has allowed him to feel free during a particularly tough time. It has kept his body and mind busy, got him out of the house and took his attention away from the constant negative news that is being pushed towards us, now more than ever.

Alex is setting a great example and is something we should all follow. However, be careful that you are reading the right message. The example he is setting is not to go out and clean your streets, or even to take the extra time you have been giving to do something for your community. The example is to look at the time you have and do what is best for you. If you want to give back, then do, if you would prefer to watch Lord of the Rings, then do. There is no wrong answer and putting extra stress on yourself to be doing something for others at a time when we need to be looking after ourselves is not the answer. Of course, this is a time when we need to show our strength as a community and look after one another, but that starts by looking after yourself. Once you are in a positive state and you have catered to your mental health needs, then start to help others. That is the most powerful thing you can.

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