Not sure it’s true but I read somewhere that the Chinese have a curse and it goes something like this:  _”May you live in interesting times.”_ 

2020 has had its share of interesting.  I’m ready for boring again.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that every advertisement –from car sales companies to fast food chains begins with some form of  “We’re all in this together”. Or they brag about what their company is doing to help During These Difficult Times. It must be hard to be a marketing exec during a pandemic.  I shouldn’t complain. But selling me a Big  Mac or leasing me an expensive vehicle is not gonna make my day any better.  Well, maybe for just a minute. Until the calories or spending guilt kicks in. Not great long-term mental health help though.  

 I know this has been a rough and too-long stretch of time for everyone.    How about you? How are you weathering 2020?  I can tell you 4 things that have helped me to beat the stress, and I hope it helps you too.  

1. I stop scrolling.  The news is always bad or it wouldn’t be news.  I want to be informed about what’s going on in the world but occasionally choose to stay away from ALL news . And Facebook– Which honestly is sometimes worse than the news.   I still use my computer for entertainment, like Netflix and Hulu.   But I choose to be UNinformed for a few days.  The FOMO evaporates eventually and is replaced by a sense of calm.  

2. I go outside. And get some form of exercise.   I’m lucky enough to live in the woods but I think being out in natural environments–even a city park– is essential to humans. I try to notice the trees, birds, mushrooms, whatever.    I walk, hike, bicycle.  Heck, I even took up running. I’m not fast, I dont go very far, I don’t run pretty. One time—and I’m not making this up—A woman yelled out her door to me, “RUN, FORREST, RUN!”. But I always feel better after being outside and exercising for a bit.  Except maybe that one time. LOL!

3. I do some form of artwork.  I draw, paint, color.  I’m POSITIVE it shuts off of the babbling worrying part (left side) of my brain for a while.  Even if I end up with a lousy piece of work or silly sketch that I wouldn’t show to anyone and may even tear up and toss in the trash, I always feel refreshed after creating art. I wish I could play an instrument or sing.  I’m not at all musical, but I understand that creating music and that dancing engages the right side of the brain and is calming for people.  Maybe writing poetry does too.  Try it and let me know!

4.   I stop focusing on the negative. It’s hard being stuck at home most of the time, wearing a mask to the grocery store, not seeing friends and family. Having to cook dinner every night.   And it’s easy to become sick of all of it.  And to ruminate about it.  Let’s face it, it’s been a long time and probably will be a while longer.  But every day I try to count my blessings.  Especially the ones given to us During These Difficult Times.  Like appreciating my cozy home and all the good food in my house .  And toilet paper! Yes. I said it.  Toilet paper.  These are things I might’ve taken for granted before finding them difficult to obtain.  Being home with my husband.  Petting my dog.  Having long phone conversations with friends and family,  Feeding the birds.  Gardening.  You get the idea.  Whatever it is that day that made me happy I thank God for.  

2020 has been a long and challenging one.  And it’s still only August.  But I intend to keep using the 4 stress beating tools that have helped me so far and I hope they help you too.  Be well, even During These Diff—GOOD Times.  

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