Please Give Back Today

It’s our turn to pay it forward. And to thank the first responders.

With the advent of the COVID-19 virus, a new day of global giving back has been added. And that is TODAY.

So, please give back today. Any amount you can. And to any cause you see fit. [We donated to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.]

At GivingTuesday.org: “We believe that generosity has the power to unite and heal communities in good times and bad. A global threat like COVID-19 touches every person on the planet, and it presents an opportunity to come together as a global community.”

“#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 – in addition to the regularly scheduled Dec 1, 2020 #GivingTuesday – as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.”

“Let’s come together to create a wave of generosity, citizen engagement, action from business and philanthropy, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world.”

 

Let Us Out – Please

Who decides what and when for us?

At this point, the phrase “let us out – please” is a mantra for us. We’ve been self-quarantined for quite a while. And we’re yearning to get out of the house. So, what should be okay for us to do? And who should decide what we can do?

What Should Be Okay for Us to Do?

Up to this point, many of us have been limited to these out-of-the-house activities: walking/exercising by ourselves, grocery shopping, and going to the pharmacy. Some may have also used curbside pickups.

But, now what? As the number of states “opening up” hits double digits, which of these DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING? For which will you wait? First, we focus on discretionary activities — those that we voluntarily choose to engage in.

Let Us Out - PleaseAs we noted, the above are voluntary. That is, they are our choice. However, other activities may soon be required of us. Without them being at our discretion. These include:

    • Returning to work or school.
    • Walking on busy streets.
    • Taking mass transit.
    • Using elevators
    • Using public bathrooms.
    • Being less than six feet apart from other employees/students while working or attending class.
    • Being required to wear masks/gloves for lengthy time periods during the day.
    • Staying in dormitory housing.

That leads us to our second question.

Who Should Decide What We Can Do?

Wow. This has turned into a real “hot button” question. And there are lots of possible answers.

Recently, there have been protests around the U.S. about required self-quarantining. Those protesters believe too much has been shut down. And that they should be able to choose their activities. On the other hand, the vast majority of those polled believe that mandatory self-quarantining is necessary to enforce social distancing rules.

Before outlining possible decision makers, we must address the elephant in the room. Can we and our fellow Americans be trusted to adhere to voluntary social distancing rules? Or must these rules be legally mandated to be followed? 

Unfortunately, for a sizable number of people, “voluntary” means that these rules don’t apply to me. Let’s try to be apolitical here. With blue and red state examples. In New York City, some people continued to go to parks, play outdoor basketball, etc. This lasted until rules were more strictly enforced. In Florida, some people do not practice social distancing while going to reopened beaches. That state is leaving it up to residents to self-regulate themselves.

Now, let’s outline just some of those who are making decisions that affect our health and livelihoods:

    • Federal government and agencies
    • State governments and agencies
    • Local governments and agencies
    • Specific authorities (such as mass transit)
    • Public institutions (such as libraries and schools)
    • Private institutions (such as banks) 
    • Employers (both public and private)
    • US [intentionally listed last]

At this juncture, the preceding mix of responsibilities and authority seem rather disjointed. That is why interesting times are ahead.

 

Feeling Sorry for Ourselves

Is it OK to feel self-pity? Read on for an interesting discussion.

Many of us (including the author) have  — at least for a brief time — felt sorry for ourselves during our  l-o-n-g self-quarantining period.  So, three questions occur to us. (1) What is self-pity? (2) Is this an acceptable form of behavior? (3) How do we avoid feeling sorry for ourselves?

Note: In this article, we treat “feeling sorry for ourselves” and “self-pity” as interchangeable terms.

What Is Self-Pity?

From Phrase Mix:

Feeling sorry for yourself/myself means to think a lot about your own problems. A person who is “feeling sorry for” him- or herself is not only sad, but also thinking things like: “Why did this have to happen to me?” “It’s not fair!” “No one loves me.” “Everything is ruined now!”

From Vocabulary.com:

If you’re completely focused on feeling badly about your own problems and complaints, you’re feeling self-pity. Your self-pity can make it hard to appreciate that other people may face more serious troubles than you do.

When you feel sorry for yourself, or overly sad about the difficulties you face, you’re indulging in self-pity. It’s often easier to identify self-pity in other people than in yourself, partly because your own self-pity keeps your attention focused inward.

Is Self-Pity an Acceptable Form of Behavior?

Some experts believe that self-pity is almost never acceptable behavior. However, we believe that answering this question depends upon three issues. One, the severity of the negative situation. Two, our level of control to fix a bad situation. And three, how long we allow ourselves to engage in self-pity.

For excellent insights, we turn to Kat George, writing for Bustle:

I don’t think anyone should spend too much time feeling sorry for themselves.  But, sometimes I do feel sorry for myself. It’s a natural human emotion. And one you have to fight to get over when you feel it creeping in. It’s okay to sometimes indulge that feeling, insofar as you might want to spend an evening on the couch crying and eating chocolates. Or whatever else it is you do when you’ve decided the world has constricted into a tiny bubble that includes only your head. At the same time, nothing else exists except your extreme sorrow.

Most of the time, indulging in a little bit of self-important wallowing is the best way to move on. I often feel that once I’ve wasted a day feeling sorry for myself, the next day I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. As well as ready to pick myself up by the seat of my pants and enthusiastically have at it again. Cleansing yourself of self-pity is important, because if you hang onto it it will make you unbearable and unproductive. 

How Do We Avoid Feeling Sorry for Ourselves?

First, consider this tip from Amy Morin, writing for Forbes:

Self-pity causes you to think, “I deserve better.” On the other hand, gratitude is about thinking, “I have more than I deserve.” So the easiest way to conquer feelings of self-pity is to change the way you think.

Studies show that the feeling of gratitude offers a variety of benefits, including better sleep, improved health, better stress resilience, and more mental strength.

Every time you are tempted to complain about how bad your situation is, think about three things you’re grateful for. Some people even take it a step further and write them down in a gratitude journal.

Second, read Korin Miller’s observations for Women’s Health:

It can feel like you’re missing out on a bunch of awesome life experiences, and that can be a tough thing to swallow. But eventually life will get back to normal.* And it’s crucial to keep reminding yourself of that fact. Also, you’re not the only one dealing with this right now; the entire country, and most of the world is, too. While you’re in the thick of this experience, even when you’re upset that you’re missing out on certain things, it’s crucial to still allow for moments of happiness.

* Although, it is likely that we will face a “new normal” for at least a while. Therefore, we should try as hard we can to be grateful when we return to some semblance of normal — even if it is a new normal!!!! 🙂

Click the image to read a lot more helpful tips by Miller.

Feeling Sorry for Ourselves

 

Tools for a Calmer YOU

FREE tools to help you relax.

Today, we look at tools for a calmer YOU. And we focus on the Calm.com Web site. [Please note: Calm.com offers both free and premium access to its site. As a nonprofit blog, we emphasize free materials. And Calm’s free features offer a lot of tools.]

But first, review this comment from GCC Exchange:

“Keeping calm is a bliss that most of us don’t realize in life. When you keep calm in the most dreadful conditions of life, you open up the avenues for solutions. Thus, it is important to sort out even the major crises of your life. Everyone deals with the harsh challenges our lives give to us. And to survive into this busy world, we need to be patient. There are times when you need to stay mum instead of quibbling over a thing. Yes, sometimes we face circumstances where it is difficult to keep calm. Nonetheless, you still need to try!”

Free Calm.com Tools for a Calmer YOU

According to Calm.com:

“We’re the #1 app for Sleep, Meditation and Relaxation, with over 50 million downloads and over 700,000 5-star reviews. We’re honored to be an Apple BEST OF 2018 award winner, Apple’s App of the Year 2017, Google Play Editor’s Choice 2018, and to be named by the Center for Humane Technology as ‘the world’s happiest app’.”

Free Vs. Premium Access to Calm.com

The distinction appears in the help section of Calm.com. As highlighted here.

Free from Calm.com

As Calm.com notes at its blog:

“These challenging times remind us that it’s never enough to just look after ourselves. We must look after each other too. This is what it means to Calm Together. In that spirit, we’ve handpicked some of our favorite meditations, sleep stories, movement exercises, journals, and music. All of the resources on this page are free to use, and to share. May they bring you, and those around you, peace.”

Click the image to access these free programs.

Tools for a Calmer YOU

 

Happiness While Self-Quarantining

Several keys for being happier NOW.

Yes, we know that self-quarantining is tough on us. Both physically and psychologically. But, we need to fight our way through COVID-19. Today, we consider the keys to happiness in any situation.

First, take a look at these prior posts:

Keys to Happiness While Self-Quarantining

In doing research for this post, we visited a number of online sources. The following observations synthesize our research, as articulated by two of those sources.

From Wanderlust Worker

Emotional Well-Being: 7 Keys to Happiness:

  1. Practice mindfulness — Meditate and concentrate on the here and now. Discard negative thoughts. Learn to connect body and mind and see the positive side of your daily life situations. Do not live in the future, do not worry about things that have not yet happened, and live the moment.
  2. Exercise Exercising regularly makes you feel better about yourself. Not only does it increase your energy levels, but it also reduces stress.
  3. Surround yourself with positive people Spend time with family and friends [even if remotely], so you’ll never regret not having spent time with them. Your relationships with others are fundamental to your being happy. That is why you should cherish them.
  4. Listen to music —  This provides many psychological benefits, and, moreover, we can control our mood depending on the type of music we listen to.
  5. Get outdoors and enjoy the good weather — The sun is a powerful natural antidepressant. So, get off the sofa and switch off the TV. 
  6. Accept yourself as you are We all go through bad times and it’s not good for you to keep your feelings to yourself. Pretending that everything is going well will only frustrate you and make you even more miserable.
  7. Find time for yourself — You must always find a moment during each day to dedicate to yourself.

From Red Online

The 10 Keys to Happiness That Are Scientifically Proven:

Happiness While Self-Quarantining
 

Better Food Shopping with Apps

How to pick more nutritious food.

Are you picking the right food in the supermarket? Do you know that there are now apps to help you do better food shopping?

For more info, check out these prior food-related posts:

Better Food Shopping with Apps

First, we look at the example of Kroger’s OptUP:

In a world of nearly endless food options, it can be challenging to make healthy choices. Introducing OptUP, a NEW Kroger app, that makes better for you shopping so much easier! We simplify healthy shopping by providing easy to use nutrition scoring and food recommendations based on what YOU buy. We’ll also track your nutritional progress overtime, and allow to you make wholesome choices for the entire family, right at your fingertips.

Review the short video overview.

For further information about the app, visit its home page shown here. Then, click each of the appropriate “learn more” boxes. Remember, this is a mobile app.

Second, the above is only ONE example of a nutritional food shopping app For other highly-rated apps, click the two images below.

Better Food Shopping with Apps

Better Food Shopping with Apps
 

Laughter Is Healthy

Health information on laughter, with some jokes.

Since many of us with health complications face challenges in our changed lifestyles due to COVID-19, we want to provide a brief diversion through humor. Thus, we turn to laughter is healthy.
 

Defining Laughter

Before considering its health effects, what exactly is laughter? According to Wikipedia:

“Laughter is a physical reaction in humans. Usually, it consists of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm. As well as other parts of the respiratory system. It occurs when we respond to certain external or internal stimuli. Laughter arises from such activities as tickling. Or from humorous stories or thoughts. Most commonly, laughter represents a visual expression of a number of positive emotional states. Including joy, mirth, happiness, relief, etc. On some occasions, however, occurs from contrary emotional states. These include embarrassment, apology, or confusion such as nervous laughter. Age, gender, education, language, and culture all indicate whether a person will experience laughter in a given situation. Sometimes, laughter is contagious. Then, the laughter of one person itself provoke laughter from others as a positive feedback”

“In one study, two humor researchers asked 80 people to keep a daily laughter record. And they found people laughed an average of 18 times per day. However, their study also found a wide range. With some people laughing as many as 89 times per day. While others laughed as few as 0 times per day.”

  

Laughter Is Healthy

Wikipedia also does an excellent job of laying out the health benefits of laughter:

“A link between laughter and healthy function of blood vessels was first reported in 2005 by researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center. With the fact that laughter causes the dilatation of the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, and increases blood flow. Drs. Michael Miller (University of Maryland) and William Fry (Stanford) theorize that beta-endorphin like compounds released by the hypothalamus activate receptors on the endothelial surface to release nitric oxide. Thereby resulting in dilation of vessels. Other cardioprotective properties of nitric oxide include reduction of inflammation and decreased platelet aggregation.”

“Laughter has proven beneficial effects on various other aspects of biochemistry. Such as  reductions in stress hormones such as  cortisol and epinephrine. When laughing, the brain also releases endorphins that can relieve some physical pain. In addition, laughter boosts the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T-cells, leading to a stronger immune system. A 2000 study found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh and be able to recognize humor in a variety of situations, compared to people of the same age without heart disease.”

 

Funny Jokes [We hope.]

Humor is in the eyes and ears of the beholder. Do you find these jokes funny? Do you find any to be groaners? 🙂

The jokes are extracted from Reader’s Digest s Top 50 Funniest:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He’s not breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls 911. “I think my friend is dead!” he yells. “What can I do?” The operator says, “Calm down. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There’s a silence, then a shot. Back on the phone, the guy says, “OK, now what?”

“Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?” – George Carlin

A poodle and a collie are walking together when the poodle suddenly unloads on his friend. “My life is a mess,” he says. “My owner is mean, my girlfriend ran away with a schnauzer, and I’m as jittery as a cat.” “Why don’t you go see a psychiatrist?” suggests the collie. “I can’t,” says the poodle. “I’m not allowed on the couch.”

A skeleton walks into a bar. The bartender says, “What’ll you have?” The skeleton says, “Gimme a beer and a mop.”

The village blacksmith finally found an apprentice willing to work hard for long hours. The blacksmith instructed the boy, “When I take the shoe out of the fire, I’ll lay it on the anvil; and when I nod my head, you hit it with this hammer.” The apprentice did just as he was told. Now he’s the village blacksmith. 

A mother asks her young sons what they want for breakfast. The first little boy says, “I’ll have some @#$%^& pancakes.” The mother angrily sends him to his room for cursing. She glares at the other little boy and asks, “What do you want for breakfast?!” The second boy says, “Well, I sure don’t want the @#$%^& pancakes!”

Want more? Click the image below to access 138 one-line, health-related jokes.

Laughter Is Healthy