I really enjoy writing for my blog, but had hoped to find inspiration from topics other than Covid and related effects. But here we are as we finish out 2021 in another surge and escalation. Case numbers are currently through the roof and many of us are back in another heightened state of concern. We really thought that having been vaccinated would allay our fears.
What has been happening in our brains and bodies the past 22 months? We have been in a state of high alert and feel potential danger around us. We cannot see the danger per se, but we can see the effects of it. We hear and talk about it constantly. When we remain in a high alert state, our cortisol levels (the fight or flight hormone) are elevated, and can stay that way day and night. That might be why people are having so many strange dreams. This prolonged state has worked its way into our everyday conscious and subconscious. Will it ever go away? Yes, but that might take some time.
One thing that has happened with the trigger of covid fear, is that it resonates with other stressors we have known in our pasts. So other anxieties that might have nothing to do with Covid might be coming up.
So how do we cope for now? We have learned how to do that. We know that in a surge like this, that keeping things simple can help. We can make choices about where to put ourselves. We can make choices about where NOT to put ourselves. Just 3 weeks ago, I enjoyed a holiday concert with vax cards and masks, as well as a drop-in pickleball afternoon at a local facility. Those are off my table for the time being. Others will make choices that are right for them. And the only person I need to explain my logic to is……ME. And my husband. I know that these activities will be in my future, but just not now.
Another way to counter the effects of this high alert state is by simply doing things that we enjoy and can take our minds off the worrisome issues. Exercise works wonders, getting outside for a walk helps with mood and energy. But also listening to music or playing a musical instrument, watching something on Netflix, listening to a podcast, working a crossword puzzle or playing a game on your phone. Don’t judge your activities that help distract you, just do them! (Keep them healthy, please!).
Currently, I am going back to some of my time-fillers from the past year. I am making at least one new recipe a week. It takes some time, taps into some creativity, and produces something that we can enjoy eating. A win, all around. A few weeks ago, I rewatched the movie Julie/Julia, where a woman named Julie worked her way through Julia Child’s cookbook, and blogged about it. That was part of my inspiration.
We are back to playing board games. For the holidays, I received the word game “Password.” It is reminiscent of my childhood. You only need four people and it is super fun! We watched a Youtube clip of the original Password and it was very funny! (And features Betty White who just passed away at the age of 99.)
I have said before that sometimes we cause ourselves our own anxiety. Meaning….if we fret and fret over whether to go to an event, we become anxious. So….make a decision, yes or no, and go with it. The fretting is what raises our anxiety and our cortisol.
Try a bit of lavender balm on your wrist before you go to sleep. Take 3 minutes a few times a day to close your eyes and do some deep breathing, where what you focus on is… your breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breath in for 2 counts, hold your breath for 2 counts, exhale for 4 counts.
And don’t forget about a “news-fast” if you are watching the evening news and then can’t go to sleep. You can even take a day off and things won’t change too much without you.
Interestingly, some of my conversations with friends and colleagues on the phone, have been more meaningful recently. People (and me too, I suppose) seem more available to concentrate on some important stuff and connect in a different way. We not only have more time to do this, but we have more need for satisfying connections.
I have also said many times, that children need less exciting stimulation than we might think. Yes, it’s great and important to take them to plays and museums, but maybe not right now. Kids find SAFETY, comfort and meaning in small family projects, like baking or cooking, playing a game, reading a story, family movie night, looking at old videotapes of family vacations, having a fire at the firepit in the backyard.
We will come out of this current time. We’ve been through waves of surges and then some let-up. It’s very disappointing but we know what to do. Keep it simple and do it.
I wish you all a very HAPPY and HEALTHY New Year. And I also wish for some other things to write about in 2022.