Ten Ways to Decrease Holiday Stress

The weeks between Thanksgiving week and New Years can be very stressful during most years.  2020 is no exception with COVID cases increasing across the county.  As you continue to work on taking care of yourself, look for opportunities each day to help combat this.  Let’s look at a ten ways to help decrease daily stress during this holiday season.

Ten Ways to Decrease Holiday Stress

Savings

    • Financial stress can cause medical problems so look for ways to not overextend yourself.  Did you make a holiday budget?  Scrub your gift list.  Draw names and set limits on family gifts.  Set spending limits.  If you have to buy something, can you buy it from someone locally?  If not, search the internet for any savings you can find.  

Say No

    • You are in control of your daily schedule. If someone is trying to convince you that they need your help in order to complete a task or to run an errand, feel free to say ‘no’.  Politely, of course.

Schedule ‘Me Time’

    • This is a great month to continue to work on this. This is a priority and trumps anything else.  Don’t say yes to another commitment if it means you lose this time.  Say no so that you can say yes to yourself.  If you need to find the time to do this, use our Activity Journal to find the time.

Shut Up

    • Do you talk just to hear yourself talk? Ha!  I think this goes back to my high school classroom days.  Speak less and listen more.  Listen and ask questions, especially if you live with someone elderly.  Write down what you learn.  Capturing your family’s stories is priceless.

Sing

    • Turn on some music during your down time. You don’t have to carry a tune to enjoy this.  Trade one Netflix episode with music videos while you are cooking dinner, folding clothes or cleaning up.  Listen to new genres if you are feeling brave.

Simplify

    • As you are going through your holiday decorations, purge anything that you are not using this year. Gift it to someone else who can use it.  If you can’t find an individual who can use it, donate it to your local  charitable donation center.  Reducing clutter can be calming.  Do you really need a tree in each room?  If the answer is yes, then put it up.  If the answer is no, keep it simple.

Sleep

    • Strive to get at least 8 hours of sleep every day. Work backwards to determine your bedtime.  For example, if you have to be up at 6 am, you need to be winding down by 9 pm so that you can turn off lights at 10 pm.  Maybe you need to begin turning off electronics at 8:30.  Play with your daily routine so that you have an unhurried morning routine.

Soak In a Tub

    • Pamper yourself. Use a bath bomb or essential oils to improve the ambiance.  Candles are a nice addition if you have the shelf space.  If you don’t have a tub, soak in a hot shower for five extra minutes. Let the water hit your upper back and practice your neck, shoulder and upper back stretches while you relax.

Solitude

    • Find a quiet place to read, knit, paint or meditate. You pick your activity.  You may be in cramped quarters but speaking to the others you live with and working out a schedule where there is nap time, bath time or quiet time will help everyone out.  Use our member’s recommendations if you need ideas on what to do.

Stop Complaining

    • Instead of pointing out the negative aspect of something, find something positive to say instead. Purposefully think about what you are going to say and figure out how to say it with a positive spin.  This can change your family’s culture if all agree to work on this.

Sunshine

    • Shorter days increase the chance that you may feel depressed. Find short blocks of time to take a short walk outside or to sit by a window facing the sun so that you can just shut your eyes and ‘sunbathe’.  If this is not an option, there are lighting fixtures you can buy to help with this.

Pick one or more topics to work on each day and you will see an improved outlook.  Be intentional about what you are doing.  Share this information with others in your circle and work on these things together.  

Taking care of yourself should be a priority despite the season. Continue to find ways to make your personal situation better.  Review the list, pick a topic and make a plan.  

 

 

 

Who Is The Event Planner In Your Family?

This next week is the kick-off to the holiday season and I am expecting that it will be different for each of you in comparison to previous years. Between my parents and the families of my five siblings, we usually split up the menu, the cleaning, the decorating and errands. Cooking occurs in 4-5 different kitchens before it is all brought together in my parent’s home. This process makes feeding 20-30 adults appear easy.

My family will not be traveling to Texas this year so I started to take stock of what all needs to happen this week. There will only be five of us this year in my home. I could feel anxiety building up as I pulled out my Thanksgiving planner and realized that there was a lot to do. Eeeek!

 

What do gatherings look like for you and your friends and family?  This year the festivities will probably be different.  What all has to happen and who usually does it?  What can you afford to do?  

Let’s look at this week’s activities.

  • What is your family going to do this year?
  • Who are you going to spend the day with?
  • What needs to be done?
  • Who’s the event planner in your family?
  • What will be on your menu?
  • Who is paying for what?
  • Who’s the shopper?
  • Who’s the cook?
  • Who cleans up?
  • What else?

If the answer is ‘me’ to most of these questions, what can you do to reduce your stress and anxiety this week? If you do not own any of the duties listed above, what can you step up and do?

 Look at the invite list.  Is there anyone who can share the workload and errands? How much meal prep can occur ahead of time and who will do it? How are you going to build in a way to make sure that you get to enjoy the day as well?

Holidays should be enjoyed by all.  By planning out the day and the participants, you can come up with a plan to ensure that everything gets done and that everyone gets to enjoy the day.  

As you look forward to all of the different celebrations coming up in the next 6 weeks, apply this same approach to all of them.  After everyone has enjoyed their feast, make a preliminary plan for any upcoming gatherings so that everyone knows what their future tasks will be.  By laying the framework out, it will make for a more pleasant and less stressful experience for all.

 

Anxiety Word Cloud

7 Ways To Combat Election Anxiety

Who is ready for this election cycle to be over?  I definitely am!  

I have heard from so many about how stressed they are about the potential outcomes of this election cycle at all levels; local, state and national.  This has been a long election cycle during a pandemic where people have more free time on their hands.  The endless news cycle with both sides pummeling their audiences can be mind-numbing.  Having a civil discourse became difficult in many circles.  

I have been working with many individuals who have been working on personal and professional areas of growth. Some have been working on self-awareness, conflict management, how to deal with difficult employees and on coping skills to help deal with anxiety. This is a great time for them to use these new skills to help them get through the next week.

My parents told me at a young age that the politicians in Washington, DC make the laws but what truly impacts you day to day is what happens in your backyard. As I was raising my family and in my work, I have focused on those things that impacted those areas. 

Regardless of who wins, I ask that you continue to take the passion you have been expressing to truly begin or continue working in your communities. Even better, go up the chain as far as you can.  If you are new to this, pick one thing to focus on and then expand as your time allows.

School boards, County Commissioners, planning commissions, Boards of Health, PTOs, church councils, state government meetings, task forces and so, so many ways to become involved. This is just the tip of the iceberg.  You have a computer at your finger tips which allows you to ‘attend’ many of these meetings.  Many of these entities record their sessions so you can watch them at your convenience.  

Find your passion and become involved. Speak up for those who don’t feel like they have a voice. Listen to those who have a different perspective and opinions to see what you can learn. Accept that not all of your views will be accepted by all. That is OK. Regroup and figure out how to move forward.  

So what can you do to get through the week?

Seven Ways To Combat Election Anxiety

  • Limit the amount of news that you watch to 10-15 minute snippets
  • Stay off of social media
  • Take a walk outside and absorb some sunshine
  • Work on a project that requires focus
  • Exercise
  • Interact with nature
  • Watch your favorite comedy

What will you do to relieve election anxiety?

mindfulness word cloud

Is Your Mind Full or Mindful?

Mindfulness Monday!
 

Is your mind full or mindful?  It sounds really corny but this is a question you need to ponder.  How are you doing?  How are you feeling?  Do you feel that your mind is cluttered?  Are you being pulled in too many directions?

 

Focusing on yourself is not selfish. Building in ways to combat the daily stress that you face is going to make you mentally stronger. There are many ways to calm our minds. Whether it is yoga, sitting quietly in a room and reading or journaling or listening to Tibetan bells while sitting quietly meditating, there are many tools available to help you with this. You need to experiment with finding the method that is most soothing to you.

 

Some of my girlfriends cannot listen to the raindrops because they feel that it makes them want to pee but for others, it’s ok. See what is right for you.

 

Is meditating a foreign concept to you? It certainly wasn’t something I grew up doing but I have found that this is a useful strategy when I just need to go to another room to get away from others or the noise around me.

 

I have listened to all kinds of videos to see what I like. I have determined that I don’t want someone talking to me telling me what to do or how to breathe. What I do love is when I am sitting on my back porch during a rainstorm. This is what led me to explore the raindrop videos and the raindrops with Tibetan bells are now my favorite.

 
I challenge you this week to go out of your comfort zone and to find ONE new method to soothe your mind. You get to chose if  your mind is full or mindful?. It can be walking, meditating, reading a book, listening to music, knitting or taking a nap. There is no wrong way to do this. You just need to look for something that works for you.
 

You choose.

multicolored wrap bracelets on a women's wrist

Using Hobbies to Soothe Your Soul During COVID

Self-Isolation

COVID has changed our lives in so many ways.  My parents still live in their own home and have approached this time in a very different manner.  Initially, both of my parents heeded the recommendations from health officials to stay in their homes.  They had the support of several family members who lived nearby who could assist in running errands for them. Since March, she celebrated her 60th wedding anniversary, her 80th birthday and missed the graduation events of two of their grandchildren.

My dad, a very active healthy 85 year old slowly began resuming running some basic errands while being cautious.  For my mom, things were a bit different.  She had a heart attack last fall so she was still being mindful about her activities.  Due to her health issues, she decided to stay indoors without fail.  She did well at the beginning but as the confinement began to drag on, it was apparent that we had to find activities to keep her occupied.  My mom taught school for over 40 years and has always been a crafter.  She incorporated arts and crafts into her school work and then used this skill during her retirement phase to keep her entertained.  She is the type of person that can replicate anything after just studying it.  Being isolated was challenging but she turned to her love of crafts to help pass the time.  

Using hobbies to Soothe Your Soul During COVID

My dad resumed his outdoor activities but took precautions.  He was certified as a master gardener and used his love of all things green to while away his time in the great outdoors.  Piddling in his garden or work shed, cutting the grass at his lake lot or helping his sons on their projects, he took the stance that he wanted to find a healthy, cautious balance to life.  He just entered his 51st year of selling life and health insurance and has modified his work practice to meet clients in a safe manner.  

My mom decided to turn to her love of crafts.  She had been selling custom made rosary wrap bracelets to her friends and at local craft shows.  This fun pasttime came to a halt with the isolation orders.  We had a long talk about what she wanted to do.  I had time on my hands and had watched too many YouTube videos so we decided to open an Etsy store.

Bevasbracelets was born

She surveyed her craft room and realized that she had over 200 bracelets.  She loves to make rosary wrap bracelets so off we went.  We made some listings and learned all about SEO.  We made an IG account.  She has a strong following which delights her.  She now has something to look forward to.
She is now making all types of styles based on what her customers request. She has autism awareness bracelets, prayer bracelets, some NFL team bracelets and her breast cancer awareness bracelets.  She sells them through many venues including direct sales to friends, on Facebook and through Etsy.  This has been so exciting to watch as her bracelets are now all over the country.   She just made her 100th sale since going live mid-April.

 

If you get a chance, visit her Etsy store and see what she has. You can sort by category. Here is a picture of all of the breast cancer survivor awareness bracelets. There are 16 different styles and they are all on Etsy under Bevasbracelets if you want to look at the close up pictures.

 

Feel free to share this post with your friends. I would appreciate you helping to spread the word.

For Optimal Health, Make Yourself Move Every Day

Move it Monday!

 

One of the themes I seemed to notice this weekend as I was browsing articles was the topic of wellness challenges. There is good information that shows that when we join a wellness activity or challenge that we are more inclined to make ourselves move.  

 

I know that this certainly works for me. One of the things I miss from my last job was the wellness activities where we walked to a variety of locations. I have even done a personal virtual walk from Charlotte NC to Corpus Christi, TX over 16 months. That is a total of 1,230 miles.

 

My team and I are doing the Blue Ridge to the Beach virtual walk and have completed 38% of the distance (thanks mostly to Renee!) I slacked off a bit last week so I know that I need to up my game. That is a map of our trek below.

 

What do I mean by movement? It can be a variety of activities. It could be pulling weeds, raking leaves, sweeping, mopping, walking, running, yoga, Zumba, dance, pushing a lawnmower, water aerobics, bicycling, rowing, arm exercises, etc.

 

For optimal health, make yourself move every day.  The type of movement is not important.  You just need to do something other than sit on the couch.  Your goal should be to be active for at least 30 minutes a day.

 

If you are not moving everyday, why not?

 

What is holding you back? (This is not geared to those of you who have a physical disability.) If you are sitting here watching the Steelers play or watching another show, you could be doing arm exercises, walking around the room or in place. You can use a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical while you are watching TV.

 

You don’t need fancy machines or weights. Cans from your pantry can be your weights and walking in place doesn’t cost you a thing. YouTube has hundreds of FREE workout videos.

 

What wellness challenge are you willing to commit to?

 

What other excuses do you have?  😁

 

Leave me a comment below so I can counter your excuse!

Woman daydreaming as she looks at a beautiful sunset.

Reducing the Stigma of Mental illness

Mournful Monday…

 

I am usually an upbeat type of person but today I sat through several presentations on how COVID-19 has impacted our children and their caregivers. The information was limited to North Carolina but the speakers stated that we are following the trend seen across the country.

 

The number of child abuse cases, suicide cases and how many are reporting signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety is increasing. The number of ‘accidental discharges’ from firearms has increased. Behind this is an increase in the accidental overdoses of medications with opioids being the number one medication that is used.

How fitting that today is International Overdose Awareness Day. I am lifting hugs and prayers to those of you who have lost loved ones to this.

 

This is not a new concern to those of you living with others who have been struggling with these issues or who work in this field. Being isolated in our homes and not being able to interact with others is going to cause these type of issues to worsen. Most of us are social butterflies and even those introverts among us crave more human interactions.

 

Reducing the stigma of mental illness by talking about mental health in an open manner needs to be a family affair. You have to be able to confide in one another without being shamed so that you or your loved ones can engage with care in a timely manner.

 

You need to be able to have open conversations with your children and other family members so if one of their friends ‘cries out for help’, they will know that they can reach out to someone to get them the care that they need. They need to know that they can come to you if they need help.

 

What if it is you who needs the help? Have you hit the end of your rope? Do you have someone to confide in?

 

You may have taken over caring for your elderly parent or other family members. Do you have a support team in place to give you a break?

 

You cannot help others if you are not taking care of your personal needs. For some, daily doses of selfcare may be enough. 30 minutes a day of ‘me time’ may keep you from lashing out at your loved ones.

 

‘Me time’ may not be enough. Then what?

 

The good news is that there is even more money being funneled to community programming and treatment centers to help counteract these issues. You may have lost your insurance and feel like you don’t have any options. Traditional practices have adopted telehealth visits and this makes care available in every state.

 

If you don’t know where to start or who to call, click on the link below. I am sharing the National Hotline Number 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for you to store or use. They can assist you with finding a location near you or can direct you to an agency who can assist regardless of your ability to pay.

 

I have a special request or call to action for you today.

 

Pick up your phone and text/call/FaceTime/Whatspp/Skype someone who lives alone or is an elderly friend or parent. Your voice may be the only one they hear today.

 

Let’s work together to break the cycle.

 

 

2020 is the Year of the Staycation

It is Funday Monday! The week of July 4th is usually a relaxing time for most families as it is usually a short work week with fireworks, cookouts and maybe a long weekend.

COVID is disrupting normal summer travel plans with many vacation trips being cancelled.  We need look at alternative ways to enjoy the great outdoors this year. Better yet, with some preplanning, you may be able to do it in an inexpensive manner as well.

As with everything that has hit us these last 3-4 months, this week may be a bit subdued. Just because you cannot take your normal vacation does not mean you cannot dream about what you would like to do. Better yet, with some preplanning, you may be able to do it in an inexpensive manner as well.

Do we all agree?  2020 is the Year of the Staycation!

Begin researching what there is to do in your hometown, county, state and region. Even better, look for no-cost or low-cost forms of entertainment.

Since we need to factor in social distancing, I recommend looking at outdoor activities. Alltrails is a great website or app that lets you search by zip code, town, state, etc. I entered my zip code and it gave me a list of 68 places to go take a hike! 68!!!

Not every location will have that many options but it is a start. You can also search for your state or national parks in your areas.

Let’s start brainstorming how you can fit one into your plans. This is a great way to practice some self-care. Focusing on your mental health is so important right now and engaging with nature will help counteract depression and anxiety.

After you pencil in your destination, let’s plan your budget. Food? Housing? Transportation costs? Entry fees? If you can keep it to day trips or one night stays, even better!

Remember that you are not going to go into debt for these mini-trips. Plan your budget and when you have the money in hand to take your trip and can cover all costs, then away you go!

Visit our Resources page https://whoistakingcareofyou.com/resources/ for the Plan Your Trip Activity worksheet to help you begin the planning process.  

Happy Trails!

Woman daydreaming as she looks at a beautiful sunset.

Coping With Stress and Anxiety During a Pandemic

Is anyone else following the increased number of cases of COVID19 in many states? 

How is your mindset dealing with it? As I speak to family and friends across the country, there are so many different coping styles.  Some are out and about and taking the mindset that the sooner they get it, the quicker they can be ‘normal’ again.  Others are completely holed up at home and never leave.  Many of you are essential workers and don’t have a choice but to go out every day.  

For DeStress Monday, I want for you to grab a small piece of your favorite chocolate bar and take a few minutes to read through Dr. Rachel Zoffness’ article posted below. I am sharing this article for the content but I also want you  to focus on the websites and apps listed under #3.   Coping with stress and anxiety during a pandemic is very stressful so it is  very important to develop tools that you can use when needed.  There are many options listed here so explore them and find what works best for you.

Tools for Coping With Stress and Anxiety During a Pandemic

There are some great relaxation and meditation exercises that you can do when coping with stress and anxiety.  Studies have shown if you do this two to three times a day or as needed, that this can be as effective as medication. They come in all different lengths so whether you take a break every hour and do this for five minutes or a longer session twice a day, find a practice that works for you. Physical disabilities are not an issue. You can choose from the Raisin Meditation sessions or from one of Dr. Brach’s sessions. They can all be accessed from a smart phone.

After you explore several sessions, pick one series and use it for the week. Schedule it into your daily planner and make yourself commit to it.

CLOSE YOUR EYES AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH…

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pain-explained/202003/anxiety-contagion-tips-relief?fbclid=IwAR0sPHzix_6McbcLKTQ-OVWmc1cWhwiV8wqmbqtxOQCCFNFiTbICLlfKIrA#_=_