Sunday, April 26, 2020

What Makes You Smile?

                                                   Image by Виктория Бородинова from Pixabay 

These days can be challenging to our mood. It is important to look for smiles and laughter. Science has proved that smiling and laughing are good for your physical health as well as your mental health. So this is a great way to stay healthy.

What DOES make you smile? Here are some things that make me smile:

  • Sunshine
  • Spring blooms
  • Babies
  • Laughing babies.
  • My great granddaughters. I can't visit them now but I get photos and videos on the computer.
  • Puns
  • Accomplishing something challenging.
  • Spending time with my daughters, these days on the phone or on Zoom.
  • My cat.
  • Seeing people be kind.
  • Making this list!
I suggest you make your list.Smile. Laugh.

                                                          Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Are You Ready to Come Out?

                                                          Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 

Are you ready to come out of quarantine? Are you ready for shops to be open and business to go back to opening to the public?

Do you feel safe enough to go back to shopping for clothes and shoes and whatever?

I'm not. I don't feel safe, even with everyone wearing masks, to go into public places where people gather, even in small groups. Until our state has enough testing for everyone, until we can be sure that everyone has immunity, including me. I won't feel safe going to church or to shop.

The rate of infections is still high, even though it may be coming down. This virus is so infectious that even six feet may not be far enough. And it stays on surfaces for hours, sometimes days. You don't know you have it for as much as two weeks, as that is how long it takes for symptoms to appear. And some people have such mild cases they think it is flu or something else. And even after you are no longer symptomatic, when you think you are cured, it takes up to two weeks for you to stop shedding the virus.

So it is a silent, invisible monster that moves among us, killing many. And, until we have nationwide testing and a vaccine, it will continue at some level.

For each of us it is a matter of deciding at what point you feel safe.

I'm elderly with a heart condition, as well as other issues, so I am high risk. I'm not looking forward to having to make the decision to risk going out and about. I will have to decide if the odds are good enough for me to take the risk. I'll have to decide how big the risk is.

And, not being a scientist, I really don't feel prepared to make that decision.

What about you? At what point will you feel safe? What will you have to see to have enough information to make your decision?

How will you determine how high your risk is?

                                                           Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Sunday, April 12, 2020

What Did You Do During the Pandemic?

I                                                                                  mage by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

When your grandchildren ask you, "What did you do during the pandemic of 2020?", what will you tell them? This year is historic. I often think of it as World War III.

There are parallels with WWII. But the difference is that this war is not (yet) among countries. The enemy is invisible and much more deadly. We were under prepared for it, the whole world was.

I treasure my mother's stories of what she experienced during the war. She was raising two children under five on her own. She had trouble finding reliable childcare. So she moved in with her mother and step-father. They took care of us kids while she worked at Curtis Wright making airplanes for the military.

She was thin and able to fit in the tight quarters of the tail of the bombers, where she bucked rivets. This was a physically demanding job, as you can imagine. The transportation to and from work was on a truck with benches on the back that transported people from the city to the plant. The called it the "Cattle Car." At that time the plant was not surrounded by the city as it is now.

This was the first time they hired women for this kind of work. Women and men not able to fight worked making what the military personnel needed to fight in other countries. The men fighting required protective helmets, tall boots, uniforms, guns and ammunition. So those industries were doing well.

The homefront, back in America, had to make sacrifices. Materials needed for the military were rationed for civilians back home. Leather, steel, rubber, even some foods. The shoes for civilians were not very sturdy. Children wore through them in no time, as well as outgrew them. It was hard to keep your children shod.

Today we fight a very different kind of war. The frontline is the medical personnel, first responders, even grocery store clerks in many places. And this time we don't have nearly enough of what they need to fight successfully without losing many of them to the disease they are fighting. They sometimes have to work without adequate protective equipment . They fight not only the disease, but also exhaustion from 12-hour shifts day after day. They also fight the emotional exhaustion of having patient after patient dying on their shifts. They also fight the fear that they can easily contract the disease, as well as take the virus home to their family.

When the warriors were fighting WWII, they were fighting to keep the people back home from being attacked and to keep the country safe. These warriors are also fighting to keep the virus at bay, but it is on the homefront. They see friends and loved ones sick or dying. Their grief is heavy.

Those of us on the homefront in this war feel unable to do much to help win the war. The biggest weapon we have is staying home and washing our hands. Hardly compares, does it?

Many have started making cloth masks for civilians. While they are not totally effective, they do help slow the spread. And handwashing is the biggest thing we can do to defeat the virus from the homefront.

In Ohio, many companies have jumped in to make medical personal protective equipment in new ways. There are also labs that are working feverishly to develop treatments that may work to combat the virus and vaccines to prevent it developing in those who have not yet been infected. But all of that takes time, something we don't have. People are dying by the thousands every day.

My mother's generation made huge sacrifices at home to support the warriors on the frontline. And when we are asked to quarranteen for two months it is not as big a sacrifice. Yet we are feeling it in lots of ways.  One of the biggest ways is by loss of income for jobs deemed unessential. Most are not prepared to go without paychecks for even a week, let alone up to two months or more. And our financial support systems are not made for the number of people who are out of work all at the same time.

We also share the grief and fear. That wears us down as well. We can't be with our loved ones if they are sick or dying. We see the news and wonder when it will end.

But I listen to people who are appalled by the suspension of sports activities for months, I remind them and myself that it is saving lives. There will be sports next year if we do this right this year.

The important thing we can do now is to support each other in all the ways we can while staying at a physical distance of at least six feet. We have technology that connects in ways we never could have done before. Even if we don't have computers or smartphones, we can write letters, send cards, make phone calls. Folks sing and dance on the street to connect with neighbors. People put up encouraging signs in their windows and chalk hopeful messages on sidewalks. They tie white ribbons on their houses and trees to honor the medical and first responder personnel.

So what are you doing during the pandemic? And will you be able to tell your grandchildren how you helped us to all get through this together?

Image by John Hain from Pixabay 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Dealing With Depression Part 2

Image by 1388843 from Pixabay 

Last week we talked about how to identify depression as something significant to be dealt with. If you have noticed your depression has lasted two weeks, seek help.

While being depressed there are certainly things you can do to to lower its effect. Whether or not you are using an antidepressant medication, these lifestyle changes can help.
  1.  Talk to someone. You don't need to talk about your depression, talk about anything. The important thing is that you have person to person contact on a daily basis with another person. Total isolation will make depression worse.
  1. Avoid mood altering chemicals, including alcohol, non-prescription drugs, even nicotine. While these may temporarily raise your mood, they will then plunge you back into depression. The roller coaster of feelings will continue to get higher and lower if not interrupted. If  you need medication, see your doctor for the best choices and follow his directions.
  1. Fifteen to 20 minutes of exercise that causes you to increase your breathing rate, aerobic activity, at least every other day. If you are not an active person, simple walking at a brisk pace may work for you.
  1. Sunlight! The ultraviolet rays of the sun interacts with the brain to lighten your mood. If you cannot be outside, sit by a window to get direct daylight for 20 minutes each day. If you live where there isn't much daylight, you can purchase a light box that creates sunlight you can sit beside. I have one called SunTouchPlus. It was not at all expensive.
  1. Do something for someone else. When you are doing something for someone else your focus is not on your own troubles. And the sciences have shown that doing for others increases our endorphins that lighten mood. Acts of Kindness benefit the giver and the receiver.                                                                                                 
I've learned the value of the behaviors both in working with mental health clients and myself. I worked for twenty years as a mental health therapist. And I've struggled with depression most of my life. It was only when I was in my mid-thirties that I learned these for mine and clients' treatment plans.    

And even though I now use anti-depressant  medications, I occasionally need to go back to using them.  I have a light box that I use in the winter months when we have shorter days. I have not only clinical depression, but it is aggravated by Seasonal Affect Disorder during the darker days.              

Depression can really interfere with your daily life. But you don't have to let it take over your life. Get treatment. Change some behaviors. Confront your self-talk. 

Life a better life.        

                                       Image by TréVoy Kelly from Pixabay