Stay positive and keep smiling

Positive

We’re living through strange and unprecedented times. Many of us are worrying about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our loved ones, our own health, our employment and our finances. And with the lockdown in many parts of the world many of us can’t see family and friends for the foreseeable future. Not surprisingly, we might be feeling a bit blue…

What can we do to cheers up ourselves and others around you?

Here are a few ideas for staying positive during this unsettling time:

  1. Join the Teddy Bear Hunt in your neighbourhood. Prop a teddy bear from a window of your home (or car), visible from the road so little kids (and not-so-little adults)could play teddy bear spotting when they go for walks with their families around the neighbourhood
  2. 🧸
  3. Don’t have a teddy bear at home? Make rainbows or display any other colourful drawings and positive messages on your windows.
  4. 🌈
  5. Tune your singing voice, polish your dancing moves and join the #QuarantineChallenge2K20 with your nearest and dearest.
  6. 💃🏽🎙🎤🕺
  7. Do a workout with your children, pets or flatmates.
  8. 🏋🏻️
  9. Stay crafty and creative
  10. 😃😃😃

Fly

Any other ideas?
Add them in comments to this post
and
Stay positive and keep smiling

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Be like a child…

“Be like a child – clear, loving, spontaneous, infinitely flexible and ready each moment to wonder and accept a miracle.”

Mother Meera

grayscale photo of toddler smiling

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

“Just because we’re adults, that doesn’t mean we have to make life all about work. Learn how play can benefit your relationships, job, and mood.

In our hectic, modern lives, many of us focus so heavily on work and family commitments that we never seem to have time for pure fun. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we stopped playing… But play is not just essential for kids; it can be an important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults as well.

Playing with your romantic partner, friends, co-workers, pets, and children is a sure (and fun) way to fuel your imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and emotional well-being. Adult play is a time to forget about work and commitments, and to be social in an unstructured, creative way.

Play could be simply goofing off with friends, sharing jokes with a coworker, throwing a Frisbee on the beach, dressing up on Halloween with your kids, building a snowman in the yard, playing fetch with a dog, acting out charades at a party, or going for a bike ride with your spouse with no destination in mind. There doesn’t need to be any point to the activity beyond having fun and enjoying yourself. By giving yourself permission to play with the joyful abandon of childhood, you can reap oodles of health benefits throughout life.

Fun

The benefits of play

While play is crucial for a child’s development, it is also beneficial for people of all ages…

Play helps:

  • Relieve stress.
  • Improve brain function, prevent memory problems and ward off depression.
  • Stimulate the mind and boost creativity.
  • Improve relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others.
  • Keep you feeling young and energetic.

Play

Play and relationships

Play is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. Playing together brings joy, vitality, and resilience to relationships. Play can also heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Through regular play, we learn to trust one another and feel safe.

Trust enables us to work together, open ourselves to intimacy, and try new things. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships—as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends.

  • Play helps develop and improve social skills.
  • Play teaches cooperation with others and is a powerful catalyst for positive socialization.
  • Play can heal emotional wounds.

healing

How to play more

Incorporating more fun and play into your daily life can improve the quality of your relationships, as well as your mood and outlook. Even in the most difficult of times, taking time away from your troubles to play or laugh can go a long way toward making you feel better.

It’s true what they say: laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter makes you feel good. And the positive feeling that comes from laughter and having fun remains with you even after the giggles subside. Play and laughter help you retain a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

Laugh

Develop your playful side

It’s never too late to develop your playful, humorous side. If you find yourself limiting your playfulness, it’s possible that you’re self-conscious and concerned about how you’ll look and sound to others when attempting to be lighthearted.

Fearing rejection, embarrassment or ridicule when trying to be playful is understandable. Adults often worry that being playful will get them labeled as childish. But what is so wrong with that? Children are incredibly creative, inventive and are constantly learning. Wouldn’t you want to be childish if that is the definition? Remember that as a child, you were naturally playful; you didn’t worry about the reactions of other people. You can reclaim your inner child… The more you play, joke, and laugh—the easier it becomes….”

From The Benefits of Play for Adults

Fresh

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Caregiver Stress and Burnout

Caregiver

While caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, it also involves many stressors. And since caregiving is often a long-term challenge, the emotional impact can snowball over time. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening when there’s no hope that your family member will get better or if, despite your best efforts, their condition is gradually deteriorating.

If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind—eventually leading to burnout, a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. And when you get to that point, both you and the person you’re caring for suffer.

That’s why taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Cultivating your own emotional and physical well-being is just as important as making sure your family member gets to their doctor’s appointment or takes their medication on time.

Learning to recognize the signs of caregiver stress and burnout is important, so you can take immediate action to prevent things from becoming worse and start improving the situation for both you and the person you’re caring for.

Caregiver

Feeling powerless is the number one contributor to burnout and depression. And it’s an easy trap to fall into as a caregiver, especially if you feel stuck in a role you didn’t expect or helpless to change things for the better. But no matter the situation, you aren’t powerless. This is especially true when it comes to your state of mind. You can’t always get the extra time, money, or physical assistance you’d like, but you can always get more happiness and hope.

Practice acceptance. Try to avoid the emotional trap of feeling sorry for yourself or searching for someone to blame.

Embrace your caregiving choice. Acknowledge that, despite any resentments or burdens you feel, you have made a conscious choice to provide care.

Look for the silver lining. Think about the ways caregiving has made you stronger or how it’s brought you closer to the person you’re taking care of or to other family members.

Don’t let caregiving take over your life. Invest in things that give you meaning and purpose whether it’s your family, church, a favorite hobby, or your career.

Focus on the things you can control. Rather than stressing out over things you can’t control, focus on how you choose to react to problems.

Celebrate the small victories. If you start to feel discouraged, remind yourself that all your efforts matter.

Share your feelings. The simple act of expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic.

Prioritize activities that bring you enjoyment. Make regular time for hobbies that bring you happiness, whether it’s reading, working in the garden, tinkering in your workshop, knitting, playing with the dogs, or watching the game.

Make yourself laugh. Laughter is an excellent antidote to stress—and a little goes a long way. Whenever you can, try to find the humor in everyday situations.

Get out of the house. Seek out friends, family, and respite care providers to step in with caregiving so you can have some time away from the home.

Maintain your personal relationships. Don’t let your friendships get lost in the shuffle of caregiving.

From Caregiver Stress and Burnout

Caring

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Making lives meaningful in old age

“The problem with medicine and the institutions it has spawned for the care of the sick and the old is not that they have had an incorrect view of what makes life significant. The problem is that they have had almost no view at all. Medicine’s focus is narrow. Medical professionals concentrate on repair of health, not sustenance of the soul… Making lives meaningful in old age … requires more imagination and invention than making them merely safe does.”

Atul Gawande

Old lady

“In 1991, in the tiny town of New Berlin, in upstate New York, a young physician named Bill Thomas performed and experiment. He didn’t really know what he was doing. He was thirty-one years old, less than two years out of family medicine residency, and he had just taken a new job as medical director of Case Memorial Nursing Home, a facility with eighty severely disabled elderly residents. About half of them were physically disabled; four out of five had Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of cognitive disability….

The staff at Chase saw nothing especially problematic about the place, but Thomas with his newcomer’s eyes saw despair in every room. The nursing home depressed him. He wanted to fix it. At first, her tried to fix it the way that, as a doctor, he knew best…. He set about doing physical examinations of the residents and ordering scans and tests and changing heir medications. But, after several weeks of investigations and alterations, he’d accomplished little except driving the medical bills up and making the nursing staff crazy…. “I was confusing care with treatment,” he told me. He didn’t give up, though. He came to think the missing ingredient in this nursing home was life itself, and he decided to try an experiment to inject some…

They ordered the hundred parakeets for delivery all on the same day…. When the delivery truck arrived, the birdcages hadn’t. The driver therefore released them into the beauty salon on the ground floor, shut the door, and left. The cages arrived later that day, but in flat boxes, unassembled. It was “total pandemonium,” Thomas said. The memory of it still puts a grin on his face… He, his wife, Jude, the nursing director, Greising, and a handful of others spent hours assembling the cages, chasing the parakeets through a cloud of feathers around the salon and delivering birds to every resident’s room. The elders gathered outside the salon windows to watch. “They laughed their butts off,” Thomas said…. They were so patently incompetent that most everyone dropped their guard and simply pitched in – the residents included…

“People who we had believed weren’t able to speak started speaking,” Thomas said. “People who had been completely withdrawn started coming to the nurses’ station and saying, ”I’ll take the dog for a walk.” All the parakeets were adopted and named by the residents. The lights turned back on in people’s eyes. IN a book he wrote about the experience, Thomas quoted from journals that the staff kept, and they described how irreplaceable the animals had become in the daily lives of residents, even ones with advanced dementia:

Gus really enjoys his birds. He listens to their singing and asks if they can have some of his coffee.

The residents are really making my job easier; many of them give me a daily report on their birds (e.g., “sings all day,” “doesn’t eat,” “seems perkier”)…

The inhabitants of Chase Memorial Nursing Home now included one hundred parakeets, four dogs, two cats, plus a colony of rabbits and a flock of laying hens. There were also hundreds of indoor plants and a thriving vegetable and flower garden. The home had on-site childcare for the staff and a new after-school program.

Researchers studied the effects of this program over two years, comparing a variety of measures for Chase’s residents with those of residents at another nursing home nearby. Their study found that the number of prescriptions required per resident fell to half of that control nursing home. Psychotropic drugs for agitation, like Haldol, decreased in particular. The total drug costs fell to just 38 percent of the comparison facility. Deaths fell 15 percent….

The most important finding was that it is possible to provide them with reasons to live, period. Even residents with dementia so severe that they had lost the ability to grasp much of what was going on could experience a life with grater meaning and pleasure and satisfaction. It is much harder to measure how much more worth people find in being alive than how many fewer drugs they depend on or how much longer they can live. But could anything matter more?”

From ‘Being Mortal’ by Atul Gawande

Care

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Is FUN=RUN and FREE=FLEE?

Trees

I like this quote by Ram Dass, though not all people I see as trees. Some are more like bushes to me, others – tumbleweeds that roll wherever wind blows them… with neither roots, nor attachments in life…

Tomas and Sabina from ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ look like such tumbleweeds to me… so light, so fun and always on the run to flee any attachments and stay free… A very heavy burden for demisexual Tereza who can’t separate sexual attraction and lust  from love and emotional connection…

This ”lightness of being’ philosophy however is not new… For centuries it was practiced by the rich and powerful. Only they could afford it, often at the expense of common people as reflected in one of the Russian proverb from the “good old days”: “Do not promote me to Corporal, but do not touch my wife”…

In modern Western societies the ‘lightness of being’ philosophy of casual relationships is becoming more common. It is often associated with earlier stages in life, with exploring life before making long-term choices and settling in.

While such behaviour is no longer considered ‘abnormal’ as it does not violate norms of the modern Western society, it can cause the person distress if ‘avoidant’ style of attachments starts dominating person’s life, preventing that person from forming deep meaningful relationships, having family and children.

According to Darlene Lancer, “around 25 percent of the population has avoidant attachment style. People with avoidant attachment style avoid closeness and value their independence and self-sufficiency more than intimacy. They can enjoy closeness — to a limit. In relationships, they act self-sufficient and self-reliant and aren’t comfortable sharing feelings. They protect their freedom and delay commitment. Once committed, they create mental distance with ongoing dissatisfaction about their relationship, focusing on their partner’s minor flaws or reminiscing about their single days or another idealised relationship…

Although most people don’t change their attachment style, it can be altered to be more or less secure depending upon experiences and conscious effort. To change your style to be more secure, seek relationships with others who are capable of a secure attachment. You can easily spot them as they radiate warmth. Loving comes naturally to them. They accept people’s minor shortcomings and treat them with love and respect. They don’t play games or manipulate but are direct and able to openly and assertively share their needs and feelings.”

You can also try the following:

Attachment style affects all aspects of the relationship, including sex life. Resolve all barriers to intimacy and don’t let the ‘lightness of being’ to become unbearable…

THE END

References:

To love OR not to love…

“You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

woman about to kiss man

Photo by Сергей Гладкий on Pexels.com

All grown-ups were once children … but only few of them remember it. The Little Prince reminds us who we are and what makes us special by helping us to see the world through the eyes of a child.

As Michael Rennier points out, “adults aren’t disappointing simply because we have grown bigger, or obtained jobs, or taken on responsibilities. We are disappointing because for many of us these pursuits have taken on a disproportionate importance. We have forgotten how to see the world as it actually is and are blinded by appearances. We see people as statistics, education as functional, food as fuel, clothing as utilitarian, books as unnecessary luxury… We vastly over-value what we can experience with the senses. If this is what it means to be a grown up, is it any wonder that Saint-Exupery refused to condone our way of life? We are like the accountant he describes, spending our days working over our books, counting everything up, claiming ownership of all we can fit in the ledger, and failing to see that we live in a whole, wild universe filled to the brim with stars somewhere in the midst of which one, unique rose lives on a planet and calls out for love.

anniversary beautiful bloom blooming

Photo by Tucu0103 Bianca on Pexels.com

The rose, for Saint-Exupery, represents love, the way in which we tame each other and allow ourselves to be tamed. It is this invisible virtue that makes one, single rose special. It isn’t the flower itself, after all, there are fields and fields of roses out there. By outward appearances, a rose is like any other rose. So how is it different? It is the invisible bond of love.

In order to have a truly perfect love, we are required in a way to become children again and learn to whole-heartedly trust and give all we have to the beloved. If we care for one another, we deny ourselves for their sake, even if this means we sometimes get hurt. It is worth the risk because the only other alternative… is to treat every other person as an object… to see a field of roses, objects that are nice enough but fairly common… ”

The cost of not daring to love is to miss the warmth of a close connection with another person, inability to open up, be loved and understood…

 

References:

How to survive a chronically ill Christmas

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For many of us Christmas is a time of excitement and celebration, but for those living with a chronic condition it can be challenging – both physically and emotionally. If you have a friend or family member who has a chronic illness, there are some very simple things you can do to help them over the festive period that can make a big difference….

  1. Going Out
    Don’t expect them to go to every party, family gathering and drinks with friends. Remember: just because they did it today doesn’t mean they can do it tomorrow. Space out social gatherings or suggest quieter venues. Ask them what they can and can’t have at social gatherings.
  2. Offer to help with Christmas preparations
    Preparing for Christmas Day can be stressful for the most of us, whether it’s buying presents, visiting family or simply managing expectations, but for those with a chronic illness it can be overwhelming. Offer help. Sit and down and work out what really needs to be done and what is achievable. However don’t take over and do it all. You might think you are helping but in reality, this might leave your loved one or friend feeling left out and inadequate.
  3. Spend time with them over the festive season
    People with chronic illnesses often do not tell their doctor or healthcare professional that they are struggling with their mental health. It can be very hard to distinguish between a symptom of their physical illness and what is potentially depression. Being there for them creates a support network which makes them feel cared for.
  4. Offer to bring a dish over
    Because someone with a chronic illness can tire more easily, offering to prepare them a meal can go a long way.
  5. Check they have enough medication over the festive season
    Over the festive season, shops will be shut and medical services limited. Make sure that someone with a chronic illness has enough medication to last over Christmas and into the New Year.
  6. Don’t forget that everyone has different needs
    Our needs are very individual and unless you know someone very well, it’s probably better to firstly let them know that you would like to do something that will help them and listen to what they suggest.
  7. Ask them how they are and listen… really listen!
    Someone may look or appear well, but that doesn’t mean they’re feeling okay. Giving someone a chance to talk about how they feel could make their day better and make sure they feel supported.

Do you know someone who is spending Christmas on their own due to their illness? Invite them over even if it’s just for a cup of tea. People with depression, mental health issues and anxiety are often forgotten. If they aren’t up for a visit, give them a call…

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THE END

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