By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
I was incredibly excited as I watched the NASA/SpaceX astronauts speeding into the atmosphere last week. As a person who grew up during the space age, I never tire of seeing a rocket launch. The technology behind it all confounds me and I marvel at the bravery of the people who willingly jump into a hunk of metal and hurl into the great unknown. As the week went on and they successfully met up with the International Space Station I found a new reason to admire them – they were no longer on Earth. Let’s face it – it’s been a crappy year. A really crappy year. The notion of being able to leave Earth for a bit is very tantalizing. I know I’m not alone. Last week the financial giant Market Watch reported that anti-anxiety medication prescriptions have soared 34% during the COVID crisis. Antidepressants and anti-insomnia drugs are also at all time highs. There was some speculation that the pipeline of those drugs might dry up . On the assumption that we might all need some coping mechanisms right now I decided to do some research on that topic for this week’s post. I hope it helps.
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Okay Captain Obvious, we all KNOW that endless exposure to the news is not healthy. That said, it’s been hard to turn away from the news as it’s the only source we have for getting up-to-date information about where the virus is and how it is progressing. Add the protests and looting to the mix and it becomes akin to watching a train wreck – we just can’t look away. That said, every expert I read advises that while it’s important to stay informed about current events, it’s just as important to take a break from it. So, read a book, stream a movie, drink a pina colada while lounging in a hammock.
Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. I’m including cake as part of that because it keeps me mentally well-balanced. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep (even if it’s drug-induced). The “experts” also advise to avoid alcohol and drugs. I may have to draw the line here and, again, I’m not alone. Liquor sales have soared during the pandemic. The primary reason given is that because restaurants were shut down people were given no choice but to drink at home. Okay, I’ll buy that. But given the aforementioned increase in anti-anxiety drug use, I’m guessing it’s more self-medication.
Connect with others. Endless articles have been written in the past few weeks about the importance of talking with someone you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. I have found this piece of advice to be the most important and the most difficult. Many of us have relied on friends or family to fill the role of listener-in-chief. But now I’m 6 feet apart from everyone. I give elbow bumps where I once gave a hug. I miss that. And the problem is, as COVID has dragged on, most people don’t have much in reserve to cheer up anyone else. As May drug into June I hesitated calling my girlfriends because I knew they were feeling as discouraged as I was. It’s not fair to expect them to lift me up too. So who’s left? The dog. It’s amazing how well Dash the Wonder Dog listens and then gives a little lick to let me know that I’ve been heard. I’m not sure what to advise if you own a cat. As a previous cat owner my guess is that the cat couldn’t give a shit less about your feelings. All I know is that as we begin to open up a bit I’m looking forward to lunch with my girlfriends and a good hug.
Focus on the positive. It’s easy to get down about all that’s going on but there are still plenty of things about which to be positive. I’m convinced that the reason John Kraskinski’s Some Good News channel on YouTube was so wildly successful is that people crave to see all the good things that we do for one another. If you haven’t watched it yet, do yourself a favor and tune in. It will restore your faith in mankind. SGN also does daily updates on Facebook and Instagram, which believe me, are the best things about those social media platforms.
Be grateful. Yes, there are a lot of people hurting right now for a lot of different reasons. But most people have something for which to be grateful. Admittedly, sometimes that “something” is quite small, but focusing on the positive can bring an attitude change that leads to a more hopeful perspective. Sometimes when I’m feeling down I chide myself because I know deep down that I’m really quite fortunate in many, if not most, ways. Still, it helps when I remember that old mantra, “I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” There is always someone worse off than you and often that person has a better attitude about it so…get over yourself and be grateful for what you have.
These five pieces of advice pretty much sum up every article I read. I guess if all else fails we could train to be astronauts and get the heck off Earth. In the mean time, be safe and be well, everyone!