As the daylight begins to shorten and the evenings have a crisper feel to the air, I realize I have some symptoms of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Winter is coming, and Covid-19 variants are now looming to threaten our ability to get out and about in the coming season.
News is scary, hospitals are filling up, and people are refusing vaccinations. It’s time to think over how to take care of myself as the days on the calendar march forward. I’m making these preparations and encourage you to consider making them too.
First, the news and outlook are so overwhelming that I’m aware it makes me feel down and out. I’m the type who needs to limit the news and its forecast of winter 2021. It may well be happening as they say, but then again, media has been known to exaggerate. I’m once again limiting my media intake.
What helped me through last winter of being newly retired and shut in due to the Pandemic? I’m thinking this one through and will come up with a list. I know I started putting together puzzles, read tons of books, began regular Zoom chats with my brothers and sisters and concentrated on building my business of CourageDaily.com. I will do all that again and add to the list. What else?
I’ve decided to go in the direction of my hobby of writing. I can invest in helpful courses and dedicate myself to a regular writing schedule.
What is your hobby? Can you perfect it by joining an online class or group? How about setting a regular time each day to devote to it? I suggest putting this time on your calendar and keeping it a priority.
When other things come up, you must turn them down during those times, as you have an appointment! That appointment is with yourself investing the time into something you love and want to perfect. It’s like having office hours. You are working during that specific time and are unavailable.
Now, as the days are still warm and the sun is out, I plan on continuing to build my friendships by meeting up for coffee on outdoor patios or walking around one of our beautiful Minnesota lakes. I won’t allow catastrophizing. That’s the doom and gloom I’m trying to avoid from media.
First, I need to be aware when that thinking is seeping into my day. When I catch that my emotions feel down, it’s one indicator that I’ve let stinking thinking dominate for a time. A stop sign needs to go up visually in my mind, as I stomp on the brakes of that type of thinking.
I choose to give the green light to being in the present, enjoying my friends, letting jokes and smiles be part of my day, and enjoying watching the hummingbirds come to the feeder on my deck! Plus, I’ll enjoy writing. My outlet and fun.
Is there something you’ve wanted to explore, but just haven’t started yet? I think I’d like to watercolor paint. There are online classes I can take, and it seems like the right time to check into those. What is that something for you? The time to think of this is now, before the days turn darker and there’s a definite chill outside every day.
Exercise is like a shot of happiness. I can almost hear the groaning at that sentence! I know, I groan at this too! I’ve found that being guided through an online class works well for me. If you haven’t discovered the free exercise classes at Silver Sneakers, I urge you to check them out. They are so professional!
You will find classes that are live by Zoom (don’t worry, they can’t see you, but you can see the instructor). They also have on-demand classes where you can pull up any type of class, from Zumba to dance to weightlifting, and go through them whenever you decide it fits into your day. When I motivate myself to a 20-minute class, I feel better in my body, which helps my mental outlook.
Dream. Covid-19 disrupted all our dreams! Vacations, exploring, visiting, hugging, were all put on hold last winter. But if we stop dreaming about what we might want to do someday, then a spark goes out in our life and we feel depressed.
Brush off those dreams that you put on hold and allow yourself to dream them again. I encourage the use of a vision board. To make one, you scroll through magazine pictures and pick out sayings or pictures that envision what you would like to take place.
Just the process of doing this is helpful. Putting pictures or sayings on a tagboard, then displaying them where you see them often enough to keep the dream alive, is healthy! Many of my vision board dreams have become reality over the years. I encourage you to try this.
Talk to someone about how you feel. If this is helpful to you, please seek out a listening ear. Everybody in our whole world understands what we are going through. Find a friend, a counselor, or a coach good at listening. As you talk these feelings out, visualize that they are leaving you, and you have lightened your load.
If you can’t talk with someone, then write these feeling down. After writing them, tear up the paper into small pieces and throw it away. As you throw the shreds of paper, tell yourself (or say it out loud), “I’m letting these feelings go for today.” This can be magical and effective!
Have you ever heard the expression, garbage in garbage out? What you listen to, allow yourself to think over, and ruminate about, will come out and affect your well-being. If we believed this, we would change what we allow to roll over and over in our head. A great way of affecting what we think about is to find quotes, sayings, or affirmations to repeat.
I learned this as I went through a totally disruptive time in my life. When I read books, it seemed that some phrases popped off the pages and infused courage and strength. I copied those down and repeated them throughout my day. This practice gave me an incredible shot of strength and courage to get through those times.
If your source of strength is scriptures, self-help books, affirmations, or quotes, find the ones that speak to you. If you haven’t tried this, I challenge you today to find a few quotes or sayings that make you immediately feel stronger, then repeat them out loud throughout the day. Notice the change! Make it a healthy mental practice in your life.
Lower unreasonable expectations of yourself. I have lofty expectations, do you? Now that I’m retired, thoughts come to me that I should be doing something, almost anything different from what occupies my days.
I’ve decided to change the “should” to “could.” I could (write a book, remodel my house, become a weightlifter or some equally ridiculous thought), not I should. Let some of these expectations go and along with that let go of the guilt of something you can’t put your finger on.
The guilt is coming from the “shoulds.” Those dog-gone shoulds keep you feeling bad! To heck with them. You could and if you want to, you will.
The time is now to think ahead to our winter months and prepare. Be smart by being ready to create a healthy mental outlook no matter what we face this winter. Let’s all strengthen those healthy thinking muscles today before we need them, by practicing the ideas above.
Are you feeling PTSD about the coming winter? Are you preparing already or waiting until it’s here? Please share what has worked for you to give us more ideas to try.