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Strategies to help us on the journey


by Jim Greer

LW contributor

As I prepare for a road trip, I reflect on memories of my childhood and those tedious drives across the desert. My parents were native Arizonans. With a college professor father, our vacations took us to the Grand Canyon State at the worst possible time of year. Like so many families in the 1960s, we sat for hours in a crowded, non-air-conditioned car, with every sweaty passenger asking, “Are we there yet?”

Those long drives in sweltering heat were nothing compared to this never-ending COVID pandemic. Just when we thought we had arrived at the end of the journey, the delta variant showed up, further extending our anxious drive through the desert.

So, how do we keep our sanity during this seemingly neverending journey? The Mayo Clinic suggests self-care strategies to help. First, take care of your body: Get enough sleep; exercise; eat healthy; avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs; limit screen time; and relax to recharge.

Second, take care of your mind: Keep a regular routine; limit news exposure; stay busy; remain positive; rely on spiritual support; and set priorities.

Third, the Mayo Clinic recommends that we connect with others. That may seem counterintuitive considering we are still encouraged to social distance. But we can make virtual connections by email, texts, phone, or FaceTime or similar apps.

In addition to connecting with others, the Mayo Clinic recommends we do something for others. We can email, text or call to check on friends, family members and neighbors.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends supporting a family member or friend, those who must isolate or quarantine at home or in a hospital, and make sure to stay in contact.

This connection is made easier through electronic devices, or the “old school” hand-written notes that brighten everyone’s day.

Even after implementing these strategies, we may find ourselves feeling helpless, sad or afraid. We may experience difficulties concentrating or notice changes in appetite, additional body aches and pains, or difficulty sleeping. If so, it may be time to ask for help. Call or use social media to contact a friend or loved one, even if you find it hard to talk about your feelings. Contact a minister or spiritual leader. Call your primary care provider and ask for an appointment. It’s so much easier now to get help over the phone or through an online consultation. Anxious feelings will fade as the end of the pandemic approaches. Even when the anxiety has subsided, however, the stress of everyday life won’t disappear. Continue self-care strategies to support your mental health and increase your ability to cope with life’s ongoing challenges. That way you’ll be able to answer your own question: “Am I there yet?”

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