47 Days: Changing Habits, Creating New Ones, and Social Connections

So there’s a movie called 47 days coming out. It is a movie scheduled to come out in 2020 about the 47 days it takes to get a correct diagnosis for a woman who has an illness.

There’s another show, that was a television series, called ’24’.

All of the events of the series occurred, in real time, in 24 hours. Some episodes showed what was happening in one person’s perspective, and would swap back and forth to others, but the idea was the same.

This social isolation, and change to our habits as we know them, have been ongoing now since Mid-March. In fact, when I first wrote about it, I made several comments about March Madness (The NCAA Basketball Tournament), which was scheduled to happen the very next weekend.

In the last few days, as I continue to connect with some friends and family throughout this time, I have noticed that people have started mentioning where we are at in the timeline of our changes to our daily patterns and routines.

A friend of mine, with multiple children age 12 and under, texted me back this week when I asked her a couple of questions.

She responded that for ’47 days’, they have been in their house, with both parents attempting to work productively, care for their 3 children, and cook, clean, and all other tasks. She answered my question, and was able to provide me the help that I was looking for.

Today, I read on social media a post from my relative about how things have been going for her since this Social Isolation began. She discussed that she hasn’t been able to see her new grandchild except for once, is missing her family and other grandchildren, and several other facts specific to her as well as some things that are universal to all of us.

This time where we work to not spread our germs to each other, so that we can survive and not overwhelm our hospitals so that we may continue to live healthily, wreaks havoc on our Social Connections.

Social connections are the connections we have in our lives which help us get through times of stress, times without stress, and times where we want to enjoy ourselves.

They are the connections we have to help us know we have support when we need it, to help us laugh at something that we find funny, and to get along with others. Our social connections are the people who pick up our kids from day care when we are running late, listen to our story about the guy who scolded us for our driving, and help us decide when it is time for a new haircut (or not)

The Strengthening Families Institute has identified that there are 5 Protective Factors, which help us to get along in life, and to feel better about things, and to be resilient. The factors are: Parental Resilience, Concrete Support in Times of Need, Social Connections, Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, and Social and Emotional Competence of Children. I am a National Trainer for them, so this way of thinking is near and dear to my heart.

So here, I want to talk about how our ‘Pause’ has affected our social connections.

21 days establishes a new habit. This means, that with this social distancing and quarrantine, that we have all had the chanse to establish one new set of habits, which I’ll call ‘the temporary quarantine’ habits, and then to establish a new set of them, which I’ll call the ‘in or the long haul’ habits.

One thing I am wondering is, how are you doing with keeping your habit of having social connections, or establishing them if you did not already them?

Many people are starting to think about what it will look like when they get out and about again. Eventually, I will have shorter hair, with a little bit of lighter roots, and will be getting used to my sons being out of college and into their next steps.

For some, this time has been one of working a ton of hours due to their work role. Carry-out delivery drivers, personal shoppers, medical professionals, and many, many others have had their lives turned upside down in the way of working their jobs differently, whether that is more hours, less patients, or more serious patients when they get them.

For others, this has been a time of extreme financial hardship. Their jobs in society have been ones that may not have the capacity to pay them while their income stream is down, or they may have had to have completely changed the way that they do their job, which may be better, or it may be worse.

But for all of us, whether we generally are at home and go out as we have to, or if we run errands to get around other people and like to have our lives structured, have had to change how we get our social needs met.

Some people are FaceTiming, Some others are spending many, many hours with their kids, and some are teaching others kids while they raise their own.

But for all of us, our patterns have changed and that changes how we feel on a day to day basis.

I’ve written about the effects on our lives in dealing with and avoiding this virus a couple of times. I wrote about it when it first seemed like things would change, when things really had closed, and now, 45 days in, or 48, or whatever it is today, as things begin to slowly open up.

For some, who rely on social interaction and structure, this time has been really, really isolating.

For those who love to be at home, this time has been time to reduce the number of interactions with others to a level that they are comfortable with, and a way to set boundaries about how they like to talk with friends, family members, and even which hours they like to work.

For myself, my mobility is less because I fell from a bike. I am a mover by nature, and am doing all I can to get this ankle back up and ‘running’, although running is something I hardly ever do. I am learning to navigate getting around a little differently, so that changes my patterns and everyday connections.

I’d like to think of this time of change and evolving from a few perspectives.

One is, how are you adjusting to the changes in your social connections, and how are you working to feel better than you have been during this time of change and stress?

What can you do, as you want to talk to others, or even listen to someone else breathe, or to get away from the people in your home, to get that need met?

How about those who really like structure and routine? When you think about how you get your own needs met, how can you do that as our routines evolve and change. A routine you may have had before the ‘Pause’, is that you woke up, got ready for your day, took the dog out, got the kids ready for school, then left for work.

You may love that routine, but then had to change it to waking up, working quietly while your kids sleep, taking the dog out when he is ready to get up, and then getting the kids up and ready to do their e-learning for school.

Any change in routine can be hard and unsettling. We use our social connections to talk about how these things can be frustrating, and to bond with those close to use about how are working to get through times of stress.

So as I finish this article, I’d like you to think about who your social connections are.

Is it your spouse? Your brother?…..Maybe a as best friend from college??

If you can’t think of any, then I encourage you to start with finding a social connection.

Whoever it is, and however you are used to getting those social needs met, what can you do to make that a little better, and a little easier for you.

What changes to your routine in the last 40+ days do you like? Which ones would you like to change back, or change again?

I hope that you find something you like to look at today. I love to look at things growing, and can’t get enough of looking at this cactus I planted in early spring.ol

Let’s Do This! Staying Calm Amidst the Chaos

https://thriveglobal.com/stories/panic-attacks-panic-disorder-and-anxiety/

Read an article about how panic disorder, generalized anxiety, and panic attacks as they relate to our current pandemic with the Coronavirus

Wellness: Let’s do this!

https://thriveglobal.com/stories/wellness-pilates-and-remote-parenting/?preview_id=869178&preview_nonce=45c2a78faa&preview=true&_thumbnail_id=866695

Quieting the Mind: Some Tricks that Work for Me

So….without a doubt the last 12 months have been pretty different for me.

I quit my full time job and joined a private mental health practice, started and stopped seeing kids in a school setting prior to and after a local shooting at a school, had some back/feet issues, and joined the ranks of the uterus free.

Oh yeah, and I moved from my hometown state of Indiana, where I had lived all of my years except the 2 where I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to McKinney, Texas, to be closer to my husbands work area.

Shoo. Sounds like a lot even when I write it.

I am a fairly structured person.

I have a routine when I wake up (love some hot tea in the mornings), a general routine throughout the day, and a time I go to bed most nights. I’m an early-bird, so falling asleep comes earlier than I wish it did sometimes, but it all works out.

During the last 15 months, I have brushed up on my counseling skills and become a little more current in my knowledge.

One area I find super important both to me and to my clients is using mindfulness to quiet the mind. Like many, I am a really good thinker, which can turn into worry. I can think about what is coming up, imagine what I should or could say in that situation, and then, after it occurs, think about what has been said and what might have been done differently.

When I am working with someone in therapy, we talk a lot about being in tune with their own feelings. We talk about what senses they use to calm themselves down.

I have found that for most people, they have a sense that they are more likely to utilize when their thinking starts to ‘take over’.

For some, that sense is hearing. They may become overstimulated by too many sounds, for instance, which can be a source of frustration for them. They may also be the person who says ‘when I get upset, I put on music and listen to it’.

I find it interesting how some people are calmed by calming, peaceful music. I am an acoustic girl myself. Some acoustic guitar, or some classical piano music, or anything by Peter, Paul and Mary are instant calm-downers for me. If it is really bad, out come The Carpenters. When Karen C and I sing together, it really calms me down.

For others, more intense, loud music with a strong beat is calming. When my husband and I were first dating, we had a constant battle over volume and type of music in the car. One of my friends joked that she liked to watch us constantly turn up and down the music on the radio, which we both did absentmindedly. He is more of a ‘layers’ person, and loves the grunge music of the 90’s. I find that music quite agitating, but for him, it is calming.

For others, their sense of what they see is their go-to for relaxation. They may be the person who looks out the window at the green trees in the summer. They may love to stare at a lake, or a picture of a lake. They may be able to close their eyes and envision a sandy beach and the sunshine beating down, or a forest with the sun peeking through the trees.

For those candle lovers out there, your sense that may be most calming may be your sense of smell. As a person with several seasonal allergies, I am more drawn to food smells in a candle, or the smell of fruits. For others, a clean, cotton smell, or the smell of cookies baking, or lilacs may be a very calming sense for you.

Taste and touch are the last two senses that can be drawn from when you consider the 5 senses.

For me, my clothes are really important to me, for my comfort both in temperature and in being comfortable in my clothes. I do not enjoy tight clothes, or clothes that are rough. For others, they may hate having a tag, or love to wear comfy pants.

Some people carry a rock in their pocket as part of their faith. The smooth edge of the rock can be a calming moment for them. Others wear bands around their wrists, and will snap them as a way to stay calm.

Many of us have all kinds of memories around taste. The taste of sweet may remind you of childhood in a positive way. The taste of something bitter may be how you wake up in the morning, and associate that taste with the smell of coffee.

Our senses are really intertwined-it is hard to imagine a taste without having a smell associated with it, and some things we see are very associated with what we hear.

I encourage you to use some time, as you finish reading this, to think about which senses help you quiet your mind and slow down from all of the tasks that are required of us.

Now imagine that you are seeing that thing that is a favorite, or listening to that sound of the waves crashing, or smelling the smell of cookies baking.

As you imagine hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, or smelling, think about things you have fond memories of. As you are imagine those smells, touches, etc., now breathe in for a count of 4.

Now wait for 2

and breathe out for 4.

and wait for 2 again.

As you do this continue to imagine you are hearing the familiar sounds that are helpful as you quiet the worries and the stresses in your mind.

Now look around you for something you can see. As you look, look at every piece of it. Notice the outside edges, the colors, and how the shadows surround it.

Continue breathing in and out, waiting for a beat of 2 in between each breath.

For me these steps are helpful in quieting some of those stressors, whether they are about work, family, the weather, or things we cannot or do not want to change.

Enjoy your day!

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