Quarantine & Increased Mental Anxiety

Coronavirus tips: How to deal with your anxiety | The IndependentWe, the human race, have united for a very dubious cause. Why dubious? No one knows exactly where this virus started (we have an idea, for sure) and no one knows why. With all the uncertainty and the plethora of news about the virus, people are told to shelter at home. Some places are more stringent in their mandates than others. For me, my defining occupation - that of teacher - has changed drastically. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of phone calls, computerized classroom, packets, and four classes I must juggle - well, there would have been 5, if I consider the independent packet some seniors are trying to finish so they can graduate.
If we had an idea for when this distance learning and living would end, perhaps then it would be easier on all of us. If I, an adult, am so stressed out, how do we think our students feel? I have spoken to a few and they are all overwhelmed. What is the answer? Is there one that fits all? I doubt it, but for me and mine, I am going to work on doing what I am able and doing it well. If I don't get to all the online meetings, so be it. I am responsible and will finish what I start and try to create some semblance of a schedule. For those of you working from home, especially kids, try to remember the following:
  • Create a flexible schedule. Emphasis on flexible.
  • Alternate passive with active times. For example, 20 minutes of schoolwork and 20 minutes of gonoodle.com!
  • Walk around the neighborhood and practice mindfulness with nature.
  • Keep hydrated.
  • Eat a balanced diet - avoid sugary concoctions, but don't eliminate them totally! Give yourself a "treat" when you've accomplished something difficult (like vacuuming or doing the toilets???).
  • Improve your spiritual life.
  • Practice daily gratitudes.
  • Read a good book - not one for work or self-improvement - just a sweet story. How about trying the Mitford Series? Very relaxing and easy read.
  • Contact one person a day via Hangouts or by phone.
  • Smile- that very act creates a hormone release that helps you feel emotionally well!
  • Draw or paint - do something creative.
  • Listen to music or play music. Drum with your fingers on your desk!
Read, listen to, or tell jokes!
Find a good series to watch on Netflix or Hulu or whatever.... the list is endless. Try your best to be upbeat and positive and happy! May you have a peaceful spring and may you find joy in your life that you uncover through this crisis....Maybe one day we will know the whys....

Our World Has Changed and I AM CONFUSED

To tell the truth, I am confused. I don't know what or whom to believe anymore. The media is out of control. I hear one thing from one station and the opposite from another. On social media folks are outing those who aren't adhering to the government mandates and then there are those folks who are protesting the Machiavellian power seized by government. Where will this end and what can I do about it?

As an educator, I am influencing many young people. Fresh minds. Open minds. Minds I don't want to blemish with untruths and negativity. But if I am confused, how am I able to do that?

Anxiety thrives on uncertainty.
And, as the coronavirus spreads, our unanswered questions can make us feel vulnerable or fearful. "Will it come to my community" or "Am I at risk?'
"We've got national anxiety at the moment, a kind of shared stress, and we are all in a state of extreme uncertainty," says Catherine Belling, an associate professor at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, who studies the role of fear and anxiety in health care.
And here's a catch-22: The more you stress, the more vulnerable you can become to viruses, because stress can dampen your immune response.
Listen to this advice from a learned colleague from NPR:
So remember good health hygiene - something for now and for the future, no matter what!
1. Sleep at least 7 - 8 hours.
2. Increase your water intake.
3. Express gratitudes daily. 
4. Unplug from the news
5. Do something fun.
6. Exercise more - move, move, move!  
7. Don't isolate socially - use social media to connect with others.
Neighboring During a Pandemic — Neighboring Movement.org

Therapists have stress and emotional issues as well as others

A few weeks ago I wrote that I was very happy with the quarantine - I was fulfilled being with my beloved husband and I had many things to do. But out of the blue lately, I've been attacked by that ole' demon hyperventilation. If you've never hyperventilated, it's kind of like feeling you need to take a deep breath or that you need to yawn. It's persistent and usually goes away, but once it gets into a cycle, it takes some meds to stop it. That's where I am this week and last week. I get stressed and don't even know why. I have been content to stay at home and do my favorite things - read, write, and binge-watch videos with my husband. So why the sudden attack of anxiety?

Deep breaths help a bit, but it is a struggle. People who've never experienced this sometimes see it as a weakness - a way of not being in control. I wish I could mentally control it and eradicate its presence the minute I begin to feel it. In the past physicians have told me to breathe into a paper bag. Somehow that never worked. My pulse is racing as I write this and I feel fear. Fear of what? I imagine most of us have experienced some fear as this is a new world for us. New expectations. New standards. I am as confused as the next person about this coronavirus. I'm not sure if we are doing all the right things or if we need to do it differently. I feel that there are so many opinions, I don't know what to do with all the information. But I do have a plan:

1. Stay in the present. Practice mindfulness.
2. Self talk - I am safe. I am good. I am loved.
3. Preventive measures - get enough sleep. Last night I had less than 5 hours sleep. That may account for some of the anxiety....
4. Drink more water!
5. Continue trying to move more, as my hobbies aren't conducive to movement!
6. Think positively.
7. Practice gratitude - what are three things I am grateful and think of it daily.
8. Do my best to not allow my anxiety to infect others.
9. Keep busy. Too much free time is not healthy, I've found.
10. Read, write, and keep social contacts alive and well....

So know that you are not alone. Even we therapists have our issues and we are working together to come to a place in our lives where we can experience true inner peace and balance. It's not easy sometimes.

Hyperventilating clipart images and royalty-free illustrations ...

The Awakening of My Soul

It's very difficult to put into words, but this quarantine business has actually been a time of rejuvenation for me. I have not suffered physically, emotionally, or even socially during this time, although I have practiced social distancing and any other mandates set forth by our government. How can this be when others are struggling, stressing, and obsessing about what they are being deprived of? Of course, I miss my grandchildren. I miss my sons and their wives, but not to the point of it making me internally unbalanced.

I am a teacher. I am a therapist. But not in that order. Primarily, I am a loving and caring wife. That is my first order of business during these times. I cherish being at home with my spouse of 45+ years. I cherish watching television with him, just knowing he is in the house when I am studying or reading. What has further given me pleasure is the satisfaction of following a schedule these past few weeks.

I am never at a loss or entertaining feelings of boredom. On the contrary, I am setting up goals that are both pleasurable to me and complement my relationship with my husband. I am working on a picture book and a guide for parents based on a five-year stint writing a column called "Parent's Relief." I am studying for my LPC exam, reflecting on my basic counseling practice and filling in holes and learning new strategies....I am able to take the time to just be. Before I hated getting up at 6 am and today I was up at 5:30, ready to work! What is the difference? At home, I can be in solitude. I don't have to get dressed - nightgown all day works. No worries about my appearance - gray growing in? So what. I am free inside and out now....

Love keeping up on family and friends on social media, but not obsessed with it. Love reading funny memes and sharing those in my group FUNNY STUFF. Love updating each of my beloved books with information pertinent to that group. All of this fulfills some inner desire for peace. It balances me. I am happy.

So what can I share with you that will help you find that priceless feeling of self worth, contentment, and love during this difficult time in the world's history? Notice all the blue highlighted words - they are positive affirmations of how I feel. The more we dwell on the positive, the more our lives with turn towards that path of positivity and joy. It can be done. It is all about thought. Think and therefore you are....Praying that your next few weeks can be a rejuvenation of spirit and body. It's time to look within.

                                   Dalai Lama Looking within Quote | look within quotes, everything ...

Happy, blessed New Year to all of the world!

2020 is a new beginning - a new decade, a new year to start doing things neglected during the past year. Take stock of your life - what was good and something you want to continue in your life? What was negative and now it's your time to figure out how to diminish the pain from the negativity, or even better, find a way to thrust it out of your life? Why are we so resistant to change? When I think about it honestly, part of my reasoning is that I am simply lazy. It's far too easy to just remain the way I am, even if I want to change, it, just, well, it's just too much work. I'll settle for drama and what I'm used to. Change - the unknown - is a bit more difficult to interact with. How much energy do I have for change? What impetus is urging me forward with this change? One change I want to make is to control my emotions. I look to the book THE FOUR AGREEMENTS to remind me of how I can ensure happiness in my life and in those who surround me. But, dang, it's hard. I mean, everyone makes assumptions. Mostly everyone I know takes things personally. How can I stop? It won't be easy. It's a journey. I may fail. I will persevere, nevertheless.

What do you have to change in your life? What is one thing that if you changed it, you would feel happier? People would like to be around you more. You would be healthier spiritually and physically...What is IT? When you decide on what IT is, then you can create baby steps to eradicate this IT from your life. Or tame IT...

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Part 1. Searching for joy and the meaning of life....

Sounds like a cliche or something to write about in a philosophy class....but my entire life I've been struggling with the balance between concern over my life and its inextricable connection to my own demise and the attainment of pure joy somewhere in between.

How do we define pure joy then? Your definition of joy and mine may be different, but what I suspect I am looking for is a deep, internal satisfaction with myself, my relationships, and my commitment to my faith.

It has never been easy. I was formed in a family defined by drama. If you felt it, you expressed it. The end. No filters. And, for many years, I struggled within this paradigm. Little joy was to be found in our family life.

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Yes, through an intense search for meaning in life, I have come across one of the most easily-identificable traits that sums up what pure joy might look like - being in the moment. Worrying about the past increases pain and invites depression to the party. Thinking too much about the future adds another guest to the celebration - that is anxiety. Those were my best friends for a long while - depression and its ugly friend anxiety. I did not know how to decrease them in my life.

I read voraciously. I did an examination of counscience. I watched others. I almost gave up. I left my faith. I returned. Then I realized that pure joy - not that flitting, fleeting, floating-like feeling of exuberance, but pure joy, was deep and satisfying, much like the love I had when I married my husband almost 47 years ago. I did not have the giddy, excitement that almost threatened to make my heart explode kind of feeling; but I had a deep sense of peace, happiness, joy, whatever you may call it. He was someone I knew I could spend a lifetime with, and time has proven that assessment to be true.

So back to pure joy. It comes when you are satisfied that you are doing what you are meant to do. Your mission has been recognized and embraced. Living and dying become more meaningful. Your joy is inextricably coupled with the sublime - the spirit, and for some of us, that spirit is the spirit of our God.

Have you found that inner peace we may refer to as pure joy? What steps do you need to take in order to attain joy? Stay tuned as we explore our lives together. One step at a time. Today awareness. Assess your joy level. Are you satisfied you are doing what you were meant to do in life? Most of us would say not really, but think about what gives you peace. Think about what gives you joy. Next step will be an exploration of the opportunities available to you. Peace be with you. Pray with me.


In a world where you can be anything, be KIND!

Today as I sit in my home office, laden with a pounding headache, my defenses are low and my mind very active. I begin to think of an email I received from a colleague this morning and begin to tear it apart, reading between the lines and assuming many things, some of which sadden me. Then I realize that I am in charge of how I feel and that I need not surrender my power to others, even those who are unwitting contributors to my current state of mind. In other words, using the FOUR AGREMENTS as my guide and the ancient Toltec Indians as mentors, I will not make assumptions. I will not take things personally. That's half the game plan from this amazing book by Don Miguel Ruiz.Living The Four Agreements - Wisdom Of The Toltecs - Inspirational Framed Print featuring the painting Living The Four Agreements - Wisdom Of The Toltecs by Celestial Images

Secondly, as I begin not only to heal my body, I begin to heal my mind. My self talk this morning started out a bit negatively, so I revamped my thinking (you may have heard of redirecting negativity). Instead of dwelling on negative thoughts, I defer to positive ones. My colleague may have been showing me great respect. He may have been trying to inform me fully. Whatever his intent, I should not begin to read into it at all.

We often do that in our lives. We read into what others say or do. Then we find it necessary to share it with someone, much as I am sharing my morning email with you. So, before we become hot and bothered, we need to stop and think. First of all, is what I am thinking true? Maybe? Then, if we aren't sure, stop thinking about it and stop sharing it. Secondly, is it necessary? Does everyone need to know I began to sink into the depths of negativity this morning as I read a colleague's email? Of course not. This is between that individual and myself. Thirdly, is this sharing nice? Well, sure it is. I just want sympathy and invite you to share your feelings as well. But 2 of the 3 tenets are not true, so it's probably best to move on to more healing conversation.
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We are certainly our own worst enemies. So, during this week, think of the graphic above: Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necesary, and kind? If so, share it. If not, think again why you are getting ready to post. Evaluate your motives and come in on the side of KINDNESS.

If we all begin to clean our own house and mind, perhaps this would be just a little bit better world. Hope so. Spend your week in gratitude, happiness, and purposeful positivity. You will notice a change in your life. Peace to you and yours!