How do you sustain long-term motivation against Covid-19?

As I write this, I’ve read many recent reports of a worrying rise in Covid-19 infections all around the world. We’ve been at this project for many months now. Many of us radically changed our social interactions motivated by the reasonable fear we felt about the virus driving this pandemic.

In the Northern Hemisphere we enter the dark winter months, a time when viruses find ideal environments for transmission: holiday parties, heated low-humidity conditions, and minimal ventilation. The siren song of cultural customs and tradition entice us to relax our vigilance. “It’ll just be this one-time; I’ve otherwise been disciplined and deserve this social respite,” we rationalize.

I’ve read many accounts reasoning that depriving ourselves of our usual social interaction is bad for our mental and emotional health. I feel this persuasive tug yet always come to the overwhelming conclusion that life and death risks legitimately over-ride my mental and emotional health status.

Besides, there are tactics that can mitigate the damage to our social lives. While they may not be as satisfying as face-to-face human interaction that we crave, phone calls, Zoom meetings, and written communication can help us safely survive.

All of us here share diabetes as a life-long health burden. We all understand the long-term challenge of diabetes. It is a marathon, not a sprint. In that way we have all been forced to create skills that can sustain us over the long run. I’ve found this to help me keep my eye on the prize when it comes to Covid-19.

The recent news of promising vaccines does indicate that we may be nearing better times. I think we will find that things will get better for us in 2021. The first quarter should see vaccine deployment in the front-line health care workers while the second quarter may very well witness vaccines for the vulnerable population of which we are a part. Of course, uncertainty remains high and we all need to calibrate our hopes against reality.

I’m an introvert, so I know the social concessions I’ve made are easier for me than it is for extroverts. I’ve found phone conversations with my close family can sustain my mental and emotional health in a reasonable balance. I’ve paid attention to my nutrition and exercise routines as well.

I have made deliberate and considered concessions to increased risks of several in-person medical appointments: cataract surgeries, dental visits, and a few blood draws. Except for the dental appointments, all parties were wearing masks. I also visit the grocery store about once per week but do so during off-hours with a targeted list that minimizes my time in the store. My grocery store now has complete compliance with mask-wearing, a condition not present last spring.

I believe that I’ve been able to balance the added risk and keep it to a reasonable level. This is not something that we can measure but simply a judgment that we each can make.

How do you feel you’ve been managing the long-term nature of surviving Covid-19? Have you compromised with your social preferences, especially with the usual holiday celebrations. I declined an in-person holiday meal invitation from my adult daughter; she understood and only raised the topic to solicit my position.

I think we’re getting closer to the end of the challenge and I encourage everyone to not lose sight of the real goal - surviving to a better day. I fear the decimating action of Covid-19 in the next 90 days or so. We should not let our guard down now! The end of this pandemic is in sight.


Maybe this why I work as a software developer, but I am engaged by things on my computers, so sites I regularly go through, plus things to take care of, and since it was always this way, it hasn’t changed as much for me as it has for people that are highly social. Once everything is done, and I wrap up, I usually spend time with my spouse, in a routine, having dinner, watching obscure foreign quiz shows and Swedish noir, as the consistency can help reduce anxiety.

Also, I’ve long been fitness-oriented, so the rowing machine I bought for the pandemic helps, as does living in a condo with a park and playground, where I can take pleasant walks and play basketball. Also, at least once a week I take mini-hikes around Manhattan, from 5 to 7 miles, through the distinct neighborhoods.

My wife is more social than I am, although more introverted, and she arranges a couple of Zooms with friends that I attend, and she then also attends numerous online meetings for The New York Society for Ethical Culture she is part with her mother. Nicely, the pandemic has made her more tolerant and less impatient.

As for my health, I lost weight initially, and now back to my usual, but my health hasn’t suffered at all, and in fact, is better, as I mostly take care of myself, my environment is very controlled, doctors do the prescribing, and little has changed. That said, I do have a few minor issues that I will see someone for, slowly advancing Dupuytren’s contracture and mild RA in the other hand.

The things I no longer have and have no realistic replacement:

  • Weekly dinner out with family
  • Cultural events, like Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall
  • Museums, the biggest loss for me, and although I can attend a few easily, like The Met Museum and MoMa, I have not yet
  • Time at the gym, the long hikes, and the museums were often combined into outings done on one day over weekends, making the other just a workout day, so that has been disruptive, but in truth, although I miss them, I am happy regardless

The upsides:

  • Time spent in training courses, and although work-related, gratifying
  • Better diet and A1c

I shared this on LinkedIn recently just after Pfizer announced it prelim results:

Even with a vaccine, there are still going to be months of physical isolation, and this provides some ideas to get through, like routine, optimism, micro-goals, and more…


Thank-you for your thoughtful comment, @JamesIgoe. By the way, after a two-month duration on a waiting list, I finally placed my order for a Concept2 rower this last week. I should have it in the next two weeks and hope that I successfully get off to a good start when it arrives.


@Terry4 et al:

Thank you for your thoughts. I’ll add a bit of my own perspective:

What do I miss the most: opera and travel … and the social elements of each.

I try to remind myself every day how lucky I am during this pandemic.

In particular, as a retiree I can easily limit my daily interactions. Plus, suddenly “fixed income” is like Nirvana … whereas a year ago it was almost cause for pity.

The dog and I go for 3 nice, long walks per day totaling 8-12 miles in a low density area with little traffic. On most of those walks, I’m no closer than 30-50 feet from of other people … but have my mask on the entire time. The dog is in charge of route that frees me to think or just enjoy being outdoors.

I’ve got a brother and a close friend that are on oxygen if they are not sitting down. I’m thankful that I’m not in an equally precarious situation.

While grocery shopping is probably the scariest thing I have to do, I find that takeout meals are a great comfort. Far better than I can prepare for myself, virtually zero contact for me or, equally important, the much higher risk restaurant staff. Plus, I know that I’m helping a small business stay afloat during these challenging times.

I do keep an eye on Covid data at the county, State, US, and world level and every few days download some data to look at a few things for myself. It helps me to better deal with much of the (politically motivated) noise out there.

I keep planning travel, even though it may have to be cancelled. For me, having something to look forward to is more beneficial than the disappointment if it has to be cancelled.

Enough from me …

Stay safe!



I realize that I have been extreme in my desire to protect myself from Covid, and because of this my husband has been extreme in his efforts to protect me.
We have some things going for us which makes this effort easier. We are both introverts, we are retired, we live in two beautiful locations, and we have each other and don’t usually drive each other crazy.

After having type 1 for 61 yrs, and doing my best most of the time to stay healthy, I am not about to let Covid take me out. My health has stayed the same with all these months at home. My weight has stayed the same and I still ride my exercise bike for an hour a day. I stay on my low fat vegan diet. I even have some good news. I don’t go to the doctor, dentist, or even get labs done while isolated. I know what my A1c will be because it seldom changes much, so I don’t need a lab for those results. CJ114 helped me figure out how to order a cholesterol tester from China, so I can test my lipid levels at home. I have stents so it is important that my LDL levels stay as low as I can get them. I can’t take statins or the newer injections due to severe side effects. In a last ditch effort my cardiologist suggested I take a supplement he had heard about which might lower my LDL 10%. I am thrilled to share that my LDL level dropped from 114 down to 47. My husband tested his cholesterol too and his was quite close to his lab results from March 2020. I realize that we aren’t sure if LDL levels are important, but I have probably seen 7 or 8 cardiologists in the last 10 yrs, and they all think it is.

I must say that I am feeling the pull of the holidays. Our son lives 1/2 hr away and we message daily and video chat now and then. We have seen him about 3 times from a distance. I sure would like to hug him, but we won’t until we are convinced it is safe to do so. My husband and I will celebrate the holidays alone and will do our best to have a good time.

Like Jameslgoe, my husband and I have a routine of eating dinner together and watching TV in the evenings. It is something we look forward to every night. It is good to hear that this is helpful.

We get our groceries delivered and we pick up our prescriptions in the parking lot of the pharmacy we use. We rarely see anyone, but a neighbor from a distance occasionally. We talk with and email friends. I will be glad when this is over, but it will be a long time until I will feel safe.

What do I miss? Our 15 1/2 yr old dog, who died in June. We were able to adopt a cat who was being fostered by a friend, so we have a pet to love again. I miss traveling to big cities and going to art galleries, museums and just seeing different people. I miss the trip to Europe that we were going to go on to celebrate our 50th last June. I hope that someday we will be able to get on a plane again. We shall see. At this point I would be happy if I could just get my hair cut.


If you have gone through covid pneumonia you will never want to again, that and staying alive and not infecting / killing my family and others is the motivation for me. I barely socialize now with diabetes anyway, it turned my life into a misery on so many levels. I still do feel deprived of the things that I do or was able to do before all of this.

Many people in my area are not following the protocol and it has gone up 50% now which is terrible. There are many stupid people in complete denial and I have talked to some doing work in my home. Basically also many do not care if others die if they are not affected badly or at all.

We would not be in this position if anything had been done about it here. We are planning a move back to Canada at some point which was the plan anyway before all of this.


@meee – I share your dismay with the poor behavior of some people I cross paths with and with the larger social dysfunction fueled by political passions. I do my best to give them a wide berth and resist the temptation to verbally disagree with them.

I also note that many of my fellow citizens make sincere efforts to respect the health and safety of people like me who share space with them in the grocery store or streetcar.

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Unfortunately when someone is in your home doing emergency service not complying etc. silence and avoidance is not an option, I had two recently one said they will wear a mask etc. but took it off and had more people there than they said and one made fun of me for wearing goggles etc. on the second day. I couldn’t fire them in the middle of an urgent job but they will get an earfull from me and put their masks etc. on properly.

In a home repair scenario, if I couldn’t leave until the workers leave, I’d ventilate with as many open doors and windows as possible.

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My father and brother and I were upstairs, I came down to check on things. After I found out what happened I opened all the windows for several hours, wore a kn95 mask and goggles ( also any time I was downstairs while they were there), when I went in to clean up the mess etc. and we sat in another room for the next three days. We all wore masks when near the room as well. It was a slab leak and floor repair which took about 9 days with various workers and the plumbers had no masks for part of the time while using a jack hammer etc. therefore leaving would have made no difference, because particles would have been spread everywhere which I explained to him. I will never have any of these people back again.

About the rowing machine, great to hear! I hope it works out for you.

For myself, some small strategies, that I might do even during normal periods, but seem relevant in these times.

  • Clean up and rearrange, remove the clutter the has accumulated more than usual. I find this cathartic.

  • Buff up one’s online presence for work, since time is now less personal and wholly remote, I’ve started taking online courses that result in badges and certifications. I’ve always enjoyed learning, but I’ve come to feel that it isn’t appreciated unless visible to others, hence the focus on a tangible result. This could also be an effect of the medical environment I work in, with a focus on certifications and degrees, as opposed to finance

  • Improve one’s social interactions online, so sharing and responding better to others.

  • Although we now spend much less, without travel, dinners out, work lunches, and clothing, I have spent a bit more on making my computer space nicer, where I spend 12 hours a day. I have more equipment than most people, and it can become cluttered, so I’ve recently purchased a few items to neaten as well as beautify, a shelf for the back of my iMac to hide equipment, a high-end mouse, Rocketbooks that are erasable and reusable to replace my paper notebooks, as well as added a computer graphics tablet. The latter is both personal and for work.

That said, since I am nearing retirement, I do think about how I will transition, and contributing via mentoring, education, and coaching might be part of that, but may be more important now, to get out of one’s little self-oriented bubble.


Wow, @Terry4, this is a tough one. And I am coming at from a very different view point.

I am one of those who is going to work everyday. And yes, I a very thankfully I continue to have a weekly paycheck and health insurance. I also am not sitting at home staring at the walls. I go to work everyday and do my 8 hours.

It has been a very long 9 months. And I have seen first hand how people’s mind set has changed. At first, everyone was in panic mode. Everyone was very concerned and willing to do what the health professionals were saying. As crazy as it was early on, people were concerned.

Now, people are tired and they don’t care anymore. I am in a state that masks are mandatory when out in public and whenever I doors. But it is amazing how many people don’t wear them correctly or at all. No one understands what 6 feet looks like. I am running away from people all the time at work. So many just keep getting closer and closer, and as I back up and away, they keep coming closer. Can’t tell you how many times, I have to beg people to backup and I can help them find what they need. But wow, I feel like I have gotten this far with all the protocols my employer has put into effect and as we get closer to a vaccine, I might not make it due to people complaining how tired they are.

I am so tired. I miss going out to eat with family and friends.I miss having friends over. I miss going to the zoo, wild animal park, seaworld, museums in the park. I miss a lot. But I have made it 50 years with my diabetes and I don’t want a virus to take me out.

So, I spend my off days at home. Playing with the dogs, walking the dogs, reading books, watching tv, sewing masks for myself and family and friends, scrapbooking, gardening. There are things I usually do and I still do. It’s just a lot more quiet.

I am just hoping and praying that people understand that we have to keep at this. It will get much worse if we don’t stay at this. I had the hardest conversation with my daughter and her boyfriend who were were going to have over for Thanksgiving dinner outside on the patio. I had to tell her she couldn’t come over because they made the decision to go to Mexico this weekend. I can’t take that kind of risk. Thankfully she understands our thought process but I am amazed that they made that decision. My son, who lives with us still because he couldn’t transfer to a 4 year university due to everything being virtual. He lives with 2 older parents, both with pre existing conditions, and he works with seniors has not seen his friend in person since March. It has been painful.

Can we get through this? I think we can! I think those of us who deal with a chronic condition can handle anything thrown at them. We got this! I just keep plugging along! And pray everyday that people will get it to help save our healthcare workers. If we think we are tired, just think about what they are doing everyday without the support they need. We had a nursing shortage before this and now with so many getting sick and being physically and mentally exhausted!

Ok, enough of my ranting. Just please everyone be safe and smart! And please if you need to talk, know there are organizations out there you can call! Hang in there everyone!


Sally, although you are economically motivated to show up to work, I thank you and all the other front-line workers who put their own health and safety at risk in order to serve the rest of us. And your case is especially inspiring since you deal with the added risk of living with T1D.

I agree that the mood of the general population has morphed from concern, panic, and preparation last spring to one of fatigue with all things Covid. I sense that that fatigue is generally more prevalent in the younger and less vulnerable groups, a sad reality that I don’t know how to deal with.

I acknowledge, however, that many members of my age cohort have decided that they just don’t care about public health measure surrounding Covid-19.

I think that the less vulnerable groups might think that people like me, older with significant comorbidities, are over-reacting to things. I guess that difference of opinion comes down to just how vulnerable each group feels about this threat.

Oregon Health and Science University emergency room doctor, Esther Choo, makes an impassioned plea for fellow Oregonians to step up and do the right thing.

Now is the time to double down on the only truly effective measures to stop this virus: wear a mask, keep your physical distance, wash your hands and for the next two weeks, please stay home!

We saluted our healthcare heroes last spring by banging pots and pans every evening. They are now pleading with us to honor that sentiment. They deserve our cooperation.


I heard your state is going on full lockdown, @Terry4. That’s excellent.
We have reached critical capacity. They are turning people away from the ICUs here.

I could host a zoom call if anybody is bored and wants to chat, @Terry4. We could have a little diabetic party online. If anybody wants to call to chat or troubleshoot, I am available (Just IM me). I have talked to a bunch of you during the pandemic, including Terry4.

Covid is killing me. As an extrovert, it is killing me. My diabetes control has tanked. I have gained weight. I feel unhealthy. I am very lucky to have my dog and cat. I am crocheting a blanket for my brother/his wife for christmas. She also wants a painting of the French seaside, so that should hold me down for a bit longer.

Things get MUCH worse before they get better…
The shopping centers were PACKED yesterday when I drove by to pickup a phone charger for curb side pickup. Its spreading like wildfire.


Yes, as days get darker I am concerned. We babysit grandkids who are home schooled. We all wear masks ,even inside when we are together. I printed off a wear a mask sign for my front door after two service people came in and we gave them a mask. But I do miss my old life. I have created things to do,several zoom calls a week,reading,knitting,walking. Life is good. Just different. No weight gain. Numbers up a tad , normal for my winter. Nancy50


We could all start planning a trip to Banting House for when this ends. It helps to have something on the horizon to look forward to.


From the beginning, one of the watchwords I kept was ‘avoid the laxity’ that comes when things start to look better. People relax, they don’t take it seriously, and then it comes back, it gets worse, and because there is a delay from when it starts and when it shows, it’s hard to get a handle on it. When things started to look better in the summer, I asked my spouse to keep up the same procedures as before, that we shouldn’t let down our guard, that relaxing would be a problem. The risk is too high.

I can’t say it worked - sample of one - but I don’t want to find out…


Not a full lockdown, but a two-week statewide freeze. Here’s a summary.


This is us. They are not shutting anything down. It is every man for themselves.