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Roslyn KuninHope is on the horizon. Soon at least one anti-COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be available and we can start to put the pandemic and its problems behind us.

However, between then and now, we face an isolated holiday season and a locked down winter. In the face of that, what can we do to keep our spirits bright?

Hugs would help – real physical ones, from family and friends we can’t visit or get close to. Virtual hugs don’t quite cut it, but defiantly hugging outside our bubble puts ourselves and our loved ones at risk.

Social science comes to the rescue. Research has shown that calling your mother gives you the same kind of emotional benefit as a physical hug. I don’t know how this conclusion was reached but it’s worth a shot. Call your mom. Or, since this should work in both directions, call your grown children.


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Calls can be just voice or any level of video that’s accessible to both parties.

Calling almost anyone is a mood lifter, especially when we’re feeling down because no one has been calling us. We can add to the cheering effect by thinking of someone who’s more isolated (perhaps they live alone) or in worse shape than we are, and getting in touch with them.

If you don’t know what to talk about or are afraid you’ll have nothing to say when you reach this person, find a funny story. There are lots on the net.

I’m part of a group of professionals, mainly around retirement age, who meet about twice a year for a friendly social lunch. After a pandemic-induced hiatus of more than a year, we recently got together on Zoom to do two things. First, we shared what we had been doing during the pandemic and how we were coping. Second, we were asked to tell a funny story.

The reports on the last few months weren’t always cheerful but were familiar as everyone dealt with the circumstances as best they could. One person caught the virus and was going through a long, slow recovery, with mental and physical capacities seriously limited.

Nevertheless, everyone managed to come up with a funny story, usually true, and often telling a tale on themselves.

If you can’t think of find a funny story, a joke will work. Dig one up on the internet or use an old favourite. Most people complain that they never remember jokes, so even if you’ve used it before, it’s not likely to be recalled.

You don’t have to be a great conversationalist. Years ago, in response to my hello on the phone, someone told a very funny joke and hung up before I finished laughing. I still remember it but it was a bit off-colour so I won’t repeat it here.

It does seem appropriate, however, to end with a joke. In these politically correct times, about the only jokes safe to make are those about ourselves.

I’m an economist and I do economic forecasts. Watch this space for my post-pandemic economic outlook. But remember, as the jokester said, economic forecasters were created to make astrologers look good.

Troy Media columnist Roslyn Kunin is a consulting economist and speaker.

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