Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Ideas for Making the Best of the Coronavirus at Home

Making the Best of the Coronavirus at HomeThere’s no shortage of information online about COVID-19 right now, and frankly, most of it is scary. It’s stressful and anxiety-inducing. Many of us are secluded and on edge.

BUT, in the midst of it, there are people helping, showing kindness, and inspiring others. I think those are the people we should be filling our screens with.

I never tire of this Mister Rogers quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

So, as we all practice “social distancing” for the next few weeks (at least), I wanted to highlight some helpers, as well as ways that can help you cope—because they’ve helped me.

 >> Update 3/21: Tips and Info From My Friend with Coronavirus <<

TO FEEL A SENSE OF CONTROL:

Stress, anxiety, and uncertainty are often a result of us feeling out-of-control. And, while we ultimately have little control in our lives anyway, this will help give you back a sense of control during these crazy times.

 

BE MINDFUL:

Practicing mindfulness is hard to do, especially if it’s new to you, but it helps keep you in the present. It’s not about what has happened (past) or what might happen (future), but what is actually going on in the space you inhabit at this moment, and what you can experience in your five senses right now.

  • Calm meditation app
  • Abide Christian meditation app
  • My friend, Jerome Lubbe, is giving away free, daily videos from his course, the NeuroTheology of Self-Care.
  • There are lots of meditation and yoga exercises on YouTube.

 

REDUCE ANXIETY:

Even if you don’t necessarily feel anxious, these suggestions can still improve your day.

  • Start a gratitude journal. I’ve been writing down three things every evening that I’m grateful for over the last few months, and find it helpful.
  • Use essential oils. They smell good, and have healing properties. (I use doTerra.)
  • Light a candle. This can lighten the mood for many of us.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. It may seem more difficult at times, but you’ll act more rationally when rested.
  • Listen to classical music. I was reminded of this one recently, so I turned on an Amazon Music classical music station, and almost immediately felt better.
  • Exercise indoors or outdoors. Get outside and get that Vitamin D! Or stay inside and try something new.
  • Get back to your hobbies. This can be a good way to fill your day, and keep your hands busy.
  • Stay connected. If you feel lonely or overwhelmed, reach out to someone else.
  • Read your Bible or the Jesus Calling app, and share your favorite verses with others.
  • Focus on hope. My friend, Jen Gordon, created the Hope Deck to keep scripture front-of-mind for people every day of the year. It’s also a great gift!
  • I’ll say it again, clean! Having a clean and serene environment can go a long way in making you feel more at ease.
  • Host a one-minute dance party! I have friends that do this regularly, but it certainly can’t hurt now! Blast your favorite music and get your groove on.
  • Curl up with a weighted blanket. Many of us love the “hug” feeling that comes with one of these blankets. (Here’s mine.)
  • Take a personal or business retreat. If you have the time, why not, right? This is a terrific time to do some planning.
  • Get a short-term pet! Some animal shelters are closing temporarily, so they’re looking for people to care for animals during the crisis.
  • Send a card. Make someone else smile, and yourself, too! Hallmark is giving away free cards!

 

ENJOY THE ARTS FROM HOME:

I’m currently lamenting that my ticket to “Hamilton” will likely be canceled next month, but just because we’re stuck at home doesn’t mean we can’t find any culture.

 

WATCH, LOOK, AND LISTEN TO THE GOOD STUFF:

I love a good “end of the world” show as much as anyone, but especially if you are someone who is easily affected by them, lay off for now. Watch something light-hearted or that will make you smile.

  • Morning Boost – TODAY Show does these segments where they just show vides that make you happy. There was a sweet one today where a woman in Spain turns 80, and her neighbors left a cake outsider her door and sang happy birthday from their windows.
  • Atlanta on the Cheap – Even if you aren’t in ATL like me, so many things are happening online right now, and this is a great resource for events. I also think it’s cool that the zoo is doing a “Safari from Home” for kids!
  • Virtual story hour for kids from popular authors is a really cool way to entertain kids.
  • Many streaming services are pitching in as well, for your viewing pleasure. For example, Disney+ released Frozen 2 early. Netflix, Hulu, and Prime are getting in on the action, too, so check your device!
  • Jimmy Fallon has been hosting at home versions of The Tonight Show on YouTube!
  • Travel Pirates has put together the “9 National Parks You Can Virtually Tour from Your Couch”
  • Many churches already offered their services through online streaming or audio, and lots more have started doing it this month as well. If you don’t belong to a church family, ask a friend what they recommend. This is a great time to turn to your faith.
  • Audible is providing free stories for kids since they’re are out of school.
  • There are also oodles of live web cams to keep you entertained, distracted, or calm. How about puppies or pandas?
  • Consider a Kindle Unlimited subscription to catch up on all those books you’ve wanted to read.
  • Follow #COVIDkindness on social media for positive news and outcomes!

 

SAVE SOME MONEY:

  • Many libraries have online options where you can read books, magazines, get audiobooks, watch movies, and more.
  • Trim can help you save money in all kinds of ways, including saving money on your telephone and cable bills, and negotiating your APR.
  • Money Saving Mom is a great resource for deals.
  • Many cell phone carriers are opening up free Wifi hotspot access at this time, and also offering free and cheap plans for low-income families. Get the full scoop on what telephone and internet providers are doing here.
  • U-Haul is offering 30 days of free storage for students impacted by closings.
  • Homeowners affected by the coronavirus can get help with their mortgage payments. I’ve also heard it can be a good time to refinance mortgages due to low rates!
  • Meat can be expensive, so consider switching to more plant-based meals. They’re cheaper and often healthier!
  • Free and cheap ways to stream TV and movies.
  • Clark Howard and The Penny Hoarder put out content daily on saving money.
  • Save money on a meal prep kit, and get a comparison of the services.
  • Lots of stores are also offering great deals right now, so check out your favorites! (This includes business resources.)

 

SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES:

I saw a friend post about this, and I thought it was a terrific idea! So many of us who own small businesses, are self-employed, and/or part of the gig economy are really freaked out right now. My business income fluctuates each month, and several of my clients are travel-related, so I’m not sure what’s in store. And I feel so terrible for low-wage hourly workers, who are at home and also don’t have child care. Let’s do our part to support each other!

  • Shop online
  • Buy services and products (lots of restaurants, for example, are still doing pick-up and delivery) – Don’t forget to leave a good tip when possible!
  • Buy gift cards for physical stores you can’t visit right now
  • Order fresh, local produce – In Atlanta, I recommend Fresh Harvest!
  • Gift services, products, and gift cards to others if you can afford to share the love with those who might need it. Brighten their day!
  • Donate money to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations if you want to support them, but don’t need anything.
  • Follow your favorite small businesses (social media and email) and share their message with others.

 

SUPPORT CAUSES:

Obviously, because of my work, this one is important to me as well. This is a great time to let people know what you stand for!

  • If you can still afford to make donations, please do! If you can’t give, at least help spread their message.
  • The spring is prime event season, so many people are having to cancel major fundraisers, which is a huge burden. However, many nonprofits and social impact companies are also finding creative ways to host their events online or offer some sort of alternative experience.
  • If you aren’t sure how best to help, contact them and ask!
  • Have a few, spare dollars? Consider donating to Modest Needs, who is providing short-term assistance to those in need, including hourly workers.

 

SUPPORT THOSE AT RISK:

How can you lighten the load for those at risk, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems?

  • Offer to run errands for them. I have a weak immune system, and a friend offered to do my grocery shopping—so sweet! Especially, because wait times for deliveries right can be days away, and item availability changes quickly.
  • Point them to resources. Some grocery stores in your area may offer early hours for individuals aged 60+, so let them know. There are always multiple ways to make sure they get their medications (and at a discount). And, of course, many people (affected or not) could use financial service resources. Keep your people in the loop!
  • Reach out and say hi. Some of my favorite viral videos right now are the creative ways people are reaching out or keeping in touch. Many at-risk people are already prone to isolating themselves, so let’s make sure they are less lonely.

 

LIMIT NEWS:

Talk about stress-inducing! You definitely want to stay updated, but leaving news on all day long can feed your anxiety. Keep your news limited, and get it from credible sources.

  • http://coronavirus.gov/ – The official website from the CDC. I also follow them on Twitter just to see the new info at a glance.

 

MENTAL HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

I hope you don’t need this, but there’s no shame if you do. I’ve seen professional counselors and therapists throughout my life, and they can be incredibly helpful. Take care of yourself in every way possible.

 

ABOVE ALL, find ways to show kindness to others and share the good news. Nothing can boost your mood and give you a good distraction more than doing something for someone else. How can you be a helper?

What did I miss? I’ll try and update this post as we go.


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10 Ways I Handle Stress, Anxiety and Sleep Issues

sleep mask

Me—in a nutshell

When I was younger, I never would’ve imagined that I’d become a person with ongoing stress, anxiety or sleep issues. Then I hit my 30’s, and was introduced to this terrible trio. And instead of having a steady, committed, long-term relationship with sleep, we became more casual friends, and sometimes acquaintances. We started drifting apart. I think on several occasions it even became that person that you think might be your friend, but doesn’t acknowledge you in a public place so then you’re not sure. Yeah, we have our issues.

Sure, I’d known stress and anxiety before, as part of being a perfectionist, but it wasn’t something that stuck around for very long. And to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what triggered the sleep issues. That was the first, and started happening early in my 30’s. The others were mostly results of high-pressure jobs that I’d had, I think, but probably combined with other things too. But they all started hanging around like leeches thinking that I owed them something before my chronic health issues of the past four years, that’s for sure. And they’ve certainly worsened with the decline in my health, because I can’t handle them as effectively as I would if I was healthy. Things get to me more easily. They take longer to sort through, and irritate me more . . . which, by the way, doesn’t help. #Cycle And my personality is one that just has a harder time letting go of things. We are big feelers with long memories.

However, one of the things I find most fascinating about humans is our ability to adapt. So, like any representative of my species, I’ve found a few ways to cope:

  1. The Five Minute Journal (also an App): I am not a negative person, but I am a perfectionist, so being critical is something I struggle with. I use this journal every morning and evening to take stock of moments of gratitude and highlights in my day.
  2. Essential oils: I personally love and use doTerra. I have many favorites (Breathe), but for tackling this issue, I’m all about Balance. I diffuse it or put it directly on my skin when I need it’s calming benefits. Just reaching for the bottle makes me feel better.
  3. Supplements: I get these either directly from, or recommended by, my naturopaths. I currently have one to help with anxiety and one to help me sleep that I take periodically. I think they help a little, but they’re still new to me, so I’m evaluating. But, of course, they aren’t the only things I’m doing, and I think that helps.
  4. A sleep mask: My first one is pictured above, but I have this one now. When I first started having sleep issues, I tried all kinds of things. I never thought I’d like a sleep mask. I always thought of them as making me kinda claustrophobic. But I was at my end, and gave it a try. And loved it! I’ve been using them for years, and also have a separate one that lives in my luggage for travel. I don’t think I could sleep without it now.
  5. Calm meditation app: I did several free trials of apps, and had it down to this one and Headspace. In the end, I liked them both, but this was cheaper. I like the sound of the waves, as well as the woman’s voice. I’m not practiced enough to do it on my own yet, so I like the guided meditations. And yes, they do have them for stress, anxiety and sleep. I’d wanted to start meditating this year already, so these blended together well. I try to do it for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night.
  6. Walk outside: I usually love nature from a distance, but I really do love to walk outside, especially on a trail or somewhere to shield me from the city a little. We also have beautiful mountains in Georgia. I find these walks really calming. I listen to an audiobook, or podcast or pray, but usually a mix. I definitely feel a sense of restfulness and renewal, not mention accomplishment, afterward.
  7. Friends: I spend time with people who fill me up. This usually means grabbing coffee or a meal or frozen yogurt. I hate talking on the phone, so that’s usually my last resort, or if the friend lives far away. But there is just no substitute for a good conversation with an even better friend.
  8. Mentor: I never knew I needed a mentor until I had one. I sort of stumbled into it with a group of girls and two women about 10 years ago. That lasted for about two years, and was awesome, but we all moved on. Then I spent another couple of years trying to find a new one, and was introduced through a friend. My mentor Holly and I meet about once a month, and I guess it’s been about six or seven years now. She’s awesome, and advises me on all kinds of things from business to personal. I’m currently looking for a new business mentor as well. Holly has mentors for different areas of her life she wants to improve in, and I think that’s really cool.
  9. Movies: I love TV, too, but sometimes I need the “away” that a movie in a theater brings. It’s a quick escape, super enjoyable, and only takes a couple of hours. I have a deep love for movies on many levels, and this is certainly one of them. I actually just rewarded myself with the new Star Trek movie last Friday morning after a stressful work week.
  10. One to grow on! Candy Crush: This is a weird one for me. I’m not really one to play games on my phone, but somehow I started doing this one at the beginning of the year when I had a full-on anxiety attack. I play it because it helps me focus on one thing at a time. I don’t have the flood of emotions and thoughts while I play this. I’m sure other games do the same thing that take strategic thinking, but this one works for me.

I know a lot of people would add pets to this list, but I am too selfish, cheap and OCD to have my own pets. I enjoy other people’s pets from time to time and that works just fine for me.

I will also, for good measure, throw depression into the mix here as well. Though I’ve struggled with it much, much longer. I will also lump my own depression and anxiety here because they often don’t look the same as what is usually portrayed. I didn’t realize I had depression for a long time because I wasn’t sad, therefore, I didn’t know the way I lived was any different from anyone else. Depression is more of “a lack” for me. I just feel less than myself. Kinda like a dull, rather than shiny penny. And I definitely get Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is one of many reasons I’m always considering moving to Southern California. Likewise, full-fledged anxiety is new for me, and thank you God, I’ve only experienced it a couple of times after it developed this year. More often, my anxiety is very mild, mostly resulting in a flood of thoughts when my mind should be still, like sleep. It’s nothing very emotional. Usually just t0-do lists and things like that. I love lists. But, of course, these things do contribute to a larger overall picture.

Side note: I will also say that I believe these kinds of issues, especially depression and anxiety are more common to creative, feeling people. I keep asking my friends who study psychology to do papers on this! It’s nothing formal I’ve found, just my own research through my experiences and conversations with others. And the worst part, especially with depression, is that it makes you feel very isolated, like you’re the only one who’s living a less than ideal life. If that’s you, I’m so sorry, and I’m here to tell you that you aren’t alone.

And yes, I do also have a prescription for Ambien, and take it occasionally, especially when I travel. I do believe there is a time and place for traditional medicine. But I try to take the more natural road when possible to put better things in my body and have less long-term effects or dependency which I believe come from many medicines. I know I am luckier than some in that I haven’t handled these issues with stronger substances, or been consumed by them. I’m incredibly grateful for that.

And I’d like to say that these 10 things work without fail every time, but that’s not true. I started writing this blog post in my head at 5:00 a.m. this morning, practically the middle of the night for me, and finally got out of bed to start writing it a little after 6:00 a.m. So, tonight, I try again. But by in large, they’ve been very helpful and allow me to lead a more normal life.

If you deal with any of these issues, how do you handle it? I’d love to learn from you, and keep adding to my list!

PS: Dear, sleep – I thought we had a good thing going. I don’t know what I said or did, but I’m sorry. With all my heart, I’m sorry. Please come back to me.

 

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