Managing Stress During Trying Times

When we find ourselves in a game of life where all the rules suddenly changed it’s time to re-evaluate our skills, choices and adaptability! Since the social restrictions, virus statistics and economic forecasts are constantly changing, we need to focus on what people need, and what we have (skill or product) that could fill that need.  What is keeping us from doing this? Fear of the unknown and stress from worry. To be realistic, we need to stop hoping things get back normal. That was our old life. How do we want to create our new life?

First: Let’s look at what we are learning from this experience. Have a family meeting and share this exercise with your spouse and children. Ask them what new normal would look like to them. What skills do they have? What creative ideas do they have for new income? In some families the children are more adept with computers than the adults. Can they help you pivot to an online marketing of a family member’s products or knowledge? When a child, teen, or young adult shares an idea, don’t put it down because it has never been done before. Inventors are successful because their idea had never been done before!

Second: Stop binge watching, over-eating, sitting around waiting for something to change. Use this time to clear clutter, fix or dump broken things, finish projects, organize a home office or explore and test some new income ideas. 

Working together

Be careful not to leap into some scheme about buying or selling something you know nothing about. Scammers prey on people during hard times. Research, get expert opinions, talk to people already doing that work, selling that product, etc. 

Mom do you have a special recipe that everyone raves about? Many new food products started that way. Dad do you have the skill to make something useful in your workshop that people need right now? Do the children have an online game they invented to market?

Third: And this really should be number one… Get healthier and maintain it. Create a way to keep fit now when gyms are closed. Lose those extra pounds. Plant a vegetable and fruit garden. Grow extra zucchini squash and make zucchini bread to sell. Or make and sell your best tomato sauce from your home grown organic tomatoes and herbs. (Calculate costs so that you make a profit. Be sure to follow all the food handlers guidelines and check to see if you need a permit.)

Stress can be managed by focusing on productive activities and forgetting worry. It doesn’t help improve anything anyway! Keep your eyes and ears open for new needs… that’s an opportunity! Have a family gathering every evening to discuss your progress, problem solve, and celebrate successful ideas or sales! Don’t stay up late in front of the tv drinking and eating, trying to numb out. It muddles your brain. Early to bed, early to rise. Restful sleep will help you feel calm and relaxed. Working on projects will give you purpose. 

Welcome to your new life. Create it the way that satisfies and fulfills you. Work done with joy brings rewards for giver and receiver.

Joyful Pleasures Reaching Inner Calm

 

In this time of uncertainty and change I find myself looking to the simple pleasures of a fragrant spring flower, a colorful sunset, a warm email from a friend, the majesty of the night sky, a favorite tune on the radio and the gift of time to catch up on my unfinished projects. Working in my garden always calms me and takes my mind off of problems. I can get lost in thought or simply enjoy the activity of the songbirds and the bunny who comes to visit at dusk.

What calms and relaxes you?

We all need mental health breaks from the confusion of these changes in our lifestyle. Choose several activities that help you get back in touch with your inner calm. You may not be able to practice an outdoor activity on a rainy day.

So have an indoor option for calming yourself. Pretend you are the eye of the storm. Serene in the midst of changes all around you. I find this helps me get a bird’s eye perspective of the bigger picture. I am refreshed after my rest and have a better focus for what needs to be done next.

The Myth of Being Prepared for Life

If you don’t know what sudden changes are coming, how can you be prepared for future emergencies? Everyone has certain basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, money, family and friends, social community, spiritual or faith based beliefs.

 

The myth is that it takes a long time and a lot of money to be prepared. I am not talking about preppers and a year’s supply of expensive freeze dried foods, generators, guns, bunkers, etc. There is a simpler, more practical, affordable way to become prepared. Small, consistent steps will get you there. This requires discipline and persistence! Set a goal and don’t stop until you reach it! Then go to the next goal. Keep your focus on the big picture: debt free, healthy, prepared, living a simple and sustainable lifestyle.

My Practical Tips for Preparedness

Money: Focus on rearranging your spending priorities to free up more money for necessities. Tighten your belt on consumer spending and instant gratification purchases. The money you just spent on that new _________ could have paid off debt. Look at your monthly bill obligations. Cut back on credit card spending to get out of credit card debt. Those interest rates are the highest. 

Transportation: The next highest interest you are paying is usually your car loan. Pay that down with the money you spent on instant gratification things, impulse buying, online spending, etc. To save money you can carpool, share rides, take the bus or buy a used bicycle at a resale store.

Shelter: If you own a home don’t treat the equity like a piggybank by refinancing for trips, new car, etc. When the car loan is paid off, put that same monthly payment toward your mortgage payment to pay down your home loan faster. (Check with your bank for directions and follow them carefully.) If you are a renter think about ways to reduce your rent. Add a roommate. (They must be added to the rental contract.) Move to a lower cost rental. Stay with relatives while you get back on your feet.

Business: Get a side gig to bring in more money. Work from home and online to cut expenses of paying rent for an office or store front. Check out business opportunities carefully. Avoid scams.

Clothing: Buy any necessary clothing from resale stores. Clear your closet of clothes you don’t wear and donate them to resale stores. Buy warm clothing for when power goes off and there is no heat. Also lower thermostat in winter to save electricity by wearing warm clothing.

Food: Good nutrition is required in your Preparedness Pantry, and in your everyday meals. Each time you go to the store buy at least 1 extra non-perishable item for your Preparedness Pantry. Store it in a special area of your cupboards. Rotate stock by eating the oldest and replacing with the newest items. Buy nutrition essentials only. No junk food, desserts, etc. This is your survival food!

Protein canned fish, chicken, beef, seafood, beans. Bagged nuts, seeds, protein powder (smoothies)

Vegetables and Fruit dried fruit, canned fruit, vegetables, pasta sauces and soup, dehydrated soups

Carbohydrates pasta, instant mashed potatoes, quick rice, instant rolled oats, dry cereals

Beverages shelf safe milk cartons, water in BPA free plastic bottles, tomato juice, pure fruit juices

Staples biscuit and pancake mixes, syrup, cooking oil, sugar, salt, seasonings, flour, baking soda, baking powder. 2 gal. portable thermos. 2, 3, 4 burner portable stove, griddle and propane cannisters

Life Interrupted, Now What?

 

In January we heard the news about the new virus in China. But we ignored it, thinking it was too far away. We had heard about creating a disaster pantry but we procrastinated and didn’t make one. We have watched other epidemics jump from one country to the next but we continued to believe they couldn’t reach us. But now within a day we can fly to most countries. We are not safe from any global disease, oil supply interruptions, wars, shortages of supplies, truckers’ strikes or stock market volatility. 

 

This is our first global pandemic. This has been a huge wakeup call. Complacency, procrastination, diversions, distractions, addictions, anger, fear, paranoia or over eating … are not going to save us. Many of us have been on auto pilot for most of our life. We let our habits make our choices. We resist change. We don’t think about consequences before we act. We expect some person or organization to take care of the messy stuff that happens in life while we sit and complain. I admire the folks who show up and pitch in to help.

 

We can take whatever lesson from life’s experiences we wish, or we can ignore them all and get swept along in the current of what is happening without preparation and knowledge of what to do. What I see in the increase of global events of floods, droughts, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and storms is OPPORTUNITY. What skills or products do they need?

 

Obviously we cannot control these events. But we can control our response. Instead of fearfully taking more than our share of daily supplies, we can be compassionate and fair so that others can eat. Instead of being hysterical and imagining the worst possible outcome, we can look around us to see what we can do to help others. Instead of worrying about food shortages we can create an emergency food pantry of non-perishables and plant a garden for fresh produce. (See Dr Joy’s Myth Busters section for directions.)

 

Grow extra food. Donate food or money to local food banks. We can help a neighbor. We can teach, by example, to our family, friends and neighbors how to gracefully overcome life’s challenges with kindness, compassion, understanding and inner peace.

I hear people saying, I can’t wait for things to get back to normal. What is normal? Following habits without being open to change? Living a life that endlessly repeats, like the movie, “Ground Hog Day”? Change is not comfortable. But it is necessary. Out of change can come growth, and hopefully improvements. That’s the part where we need to be awake, alert, aware and proactive! 

 

The potential changes being brought this year and in recent years have given so much opportunity for improvements. But so many of us are still asleep or afraid of change. We don’t need to be a highly educated person, a billionaire, a scientist, a genius, etcetera to improve our piece of the puzzle. Many great leaders, concepts, inventions and organizations have been birthed from humble beginnings. When we get an insight, idea or inspiration don’t sit on it. We must let it move us, step by step through its’ process. Just keep taking the next step. Sometimes the small changes we make can have amazing results.

 

How many times have we said, “I wish I had more time to: spend with my family, finish these projects, study a new language or learn a new skill? Well this is the time we have been asking for! How are we using this gift? Are we teaching our family life skills?

We could teach the children or grand kids how to:

  • prepare healthy meals
  • plan a week long menu
  • learn home maintenance checklist (clean gutters, check roof, paint, check for wood damage, etc.)
  • housekeeping, vacuuming, laundry, sewing, mend clothes.
  • Create a practical math project: List income. List expenses: utilities, rent or mortgage payment, car payment, food, gas, insurance, etc.
  • Have children add up bills and make a budget for monthly and annual costs.
  • Ask them for ideas how to earn money to balance the budget. 

 

Don’t binge watch videos, complain, get angry, act out in frustration or gobble junk food. Our children are watching how we handle life’s challenges. Give them responsibilities so they feel like they are part of the team. Encourage finding solutions. Teach them to think, read, reason, express their ideas and participate in life in a positive way. It is not the parent’s job to entertain the kids. It is their job to prepare them for life. This might be a great time to take up an old skill, like having conversations. While it is good to keep in touch with loved ones with social media during shut in time. Also limit screen time for everyone. Encourage them to engage, participate and contribute.

 

Assign reading or report on any topic of interest and have the family listen to each presentation (great prep for school.). Teach them to be here now in the moment. Practicing listening, praising, enjoying each other’s company.  What are the children’s ideas about the planet, their future, solutions for global challenges. I am amazed at the wisdom and vision of the younger generations.

 

What if this experience was an enormous planetary reboot. Let’s pretend we can now make all the changes in our lives that we always wanted to. Our attitudes and beliefs influence our behaviors which determine our outcome. This would be a great time to examine our beliefs, habits and frustrations. Toss out the old that don’t work for us and adopt new ones. What would you do to make your life and the planet better? How can we all use this time for positive change, being closer to our family, getting to know the kids better and being a better person. We get a do-over! What if? Think about it! Then make some adjustments in your lifestyle to improve yourself and lessen your impact on the planet.

Dr. Joy’s Joyful Pleasures: Feeding Your Immune System

 

  

While focusing on building our immunity in this issue, I invite you to take some of your favorite recipes to your kitchen table. 

Next bring the herb and spices list from my “Feeding Your Immune System” article.

Now look at which of the immune boosting herbs and spices you might add to your favorite recipes. Turn your meals into tasting events with suggestions and voting for favorites! Pretend this is a cook competition!  

Healthy Soul
Heal the mind, body and spirit.
Did you go out into the garden and work too long? Are your muscles sore from over exercise?

Pour a warm tub of water and add some Epsom salts (2 cups). Bring some soothing music into the bathroom and dim the lights. Just relax and let the Epson salts do its work to relax those sore muscles.

Choose a sunny day and have lunch on the patio. Being outdoors, breathing fresh air and enjoying the sunshine are good for our health!

I have a set of non-breakable dishes just for outdoor dining. Get the family involved in planning the menu, helping to prepare the food, setup and cleanup. Teach the kids that nothing happens by magic. But many hands make light work. More life preparation skills!

 

 

  

While focusing on building our immunity in this issue, I invite you to take some of your favorite recipes to your kitchen table. 

Next bring the herb and spices list from my “Feeding Your Immune System” article.

Now look at which of the immune boosting herbs and spices you might add to your favorite recipes. Turn your meals into tasting events with suggestions and voting for favorites! Pretend this is a cook competition!  

Did you go out into the garden and work too long? Are your muscles sore from over exercise?

Pour a warm tub of water and add some Epsom salts (2 cups). Bring some soothing music into the bathroom and dim the lights. Just relax and let the Epson salts do its work to relax those sore muscles.

Choose a sunny day and have lunch on the patio. Being outdoors, breathing fresh air and enjoying the sunshine are good for our health!

I have a set of non-breakable dishes just for outdoor dining. Get the family involved in planning the menu, helping to prepare the food, setup and cleanup. Teach the kids that nothing happens by magic. But many hands make light work. More life preparation skills!