Yesterday was February 9th. My dad died on February 9th, 1977. That was forty- four years ago but sometimes it feels like it was only yesterday. I have learned to live without his physical presence and that is sometimes quite painful. After all, he never even met his grandchildren and has not been by my side throughout most of my life.
My dad had a heart condition. Back then there were no stints or even angioplasty. What gave us all more time together was that he was able to escape to a warmer climate in the winter. San Diego was far removed from the harsh winters on the Canadian prairies.
We are currently in the midst of a global pandemic. Travel is being strongly discouraged and in many cases is all but prohibitive. And I wonder what the quality of life would have been like in those final years if my dad were alive today.
From a mental health perspective, the suicide rate has skyrocketed during the past year. Quarantine and isolation are dangerous. Depression and anxiety have become more prevalent. Far too many people are living in fear while being sequestered in their homes. Isolation is detrimental to our health and well-being.
Domestic violence has escalated. While some families feel ties have been strengthened in their households, others have felt nothing but increased stress and faltering relationships. Zoom and other types of video calls lost their charm months ago when it comes to extended family relationships and keeping in contact with friends.
Some areas have more restrictions than others causing people to reevaluate whether the trip to the grocery store is really necessary. Standing outside in long lines in frigid temperatures just does not appeal. Nor does juggling fast food on our laps after going through a drive-thru when we’d much rather be sitting inside a restaurant with healthier food choices.
More than ever I cherish the memories of the freedom I once took for granted. As much as I miss my dad, I am thankful that he is not here now to experience the travesty of living during this pandemic.
Coursera is a fabulous site where you can find a variety of courses to study at your own speed. Throughout the years I’ve taken courses in psychology, sociology, writing and so much more.
On Sunday I started a psychology course dealing with anxiety in light of COVID-19. This course is being given by a professor at the University of Toronto in Canada.
In my last post I discussed the importance of caring for our mental health. This course is another tool I’m using to do just that.
Did I mention that these courses are all offered free of charge?
Another thing I did on Saturday was renew my phone plan. This is huge for me because I have a plan that includes unlimited international calls to the USA and Canada. This allows me to connect with family and friends on a regular basis. The state of the world right now due to the virus makes this connection even more important than ever.
I was pleased to see that only one person at a time was allowed into the building to access the cashier. People lined up outside were spaced far apart. Physical distancing is definitely being enforced by Telcel.
These are two things I’ve done this weekend to take care of myself.
What have you done to take care of yourself?
Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Maintain social distancing. Stay at home. This is all great advice for protecting your physical health.
But what about your mental health? What are you doing to protect your mental health?
If you’re self-isolating, you spend a lot of time by yourself. This is a perfect opportunity for your brain to go into overdrive. This results in an unnecessary abundance of fear and anxiety and ultimately panic. Even if you are at home and have other family members with you, the conversation ultimately focuses on COVID-19.
The art of mindfulness and meditation are two techniques that work for me. If I’m coloring I focus on the masterpiece I’m creating. If I’m watching a movie I really listen to the Spanish and am amazed at how much better my comprehension has become.
I meditate with music and imagery. I’ve even gotten back to gazing at the flame of a candle.
I’ve replaced a great deal of my social media viewing with the above-mentioned. When I want the facts about COVID-19 I go to the Mayo Clinic website. I also participate in discussion groups on this site.
I find online Church as well as Bible study to be important. Both are a great way to stay connected. I also find them comforting.
I also spend less time on the phone although I do connect with the my family and close friends more regularly. Just as long as the conversation doesn’t focus completely on the virus.
Quite obviously I’m spending more time writing. Blog posts are every second day. I’m also working on my next book.
I make a point of going out for walks every day. I lose myself in the beauty of nature. So many trees and flowers are beginning to bloom.
I guess you could say I take a lot of time for ME and I highly recommend it.
Take time for yourself!