Post 69: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on how to handle a bad day.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 69.

Note: We don’t claim to be mental health professionals, and any advice or tips we offer are based on personal experience only.

Are bad days here to stay?

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

The good days have been fewer and fewer these past few weeks here in Lebanon. The political, economic, financial, and Covid-19 crises are playing out badly on a daily basis.

So, when I wake up in the morning, I get this heavy, sinking feeling as I wonder what the day will bring. How will it be? As the day evolves and more bad news emerges on the local and international scenes, I begin to feel this heaviness getting bigger and wider.

Unfortunately, a lot of what is going on here affects us on a daily basis: what price is the lollar at? Will we be able to get money out of the bank? How long is the wait at the bank? What rate is the bank providing today on withdrawals in US Dollars? Will we find the groceries we are used to purchasing? Will there be road closures? And last but not least, which of our ruling class will punch each other in the face during a meeting? It is endless…so one anticipates all the bad before one can see a shred of good.

My new policy is to NOT watch the news, nor read any, at the start of the day. I have removed all push notifications except for one site. I scroll through it when I have the time or feel like it. I have switched my phone to silent so I don’t get phone calls at other people’s whim. I answer text messages when it is convenient for me. I am no longer at the mercy of everyone and my device.

This has helped reduce some of the stress and anxiety that make me have a bad day.

Sadly, bad days are going to become more of the normal than we expect, at least in the short run. We might have to go through several more lockdowns until herd immunity takes over, we are going to pay a heavy price for the economic and financial depression that we are facing and we will be more on edge in general.

For now, on the really bad days I try to find humor, keep myself busy, and vent it out. Alas, oh for the days when one used to wake up in the morning and feel like it’s a new day!

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Turning a bad day, sad face, or frown into a good day, smile, or a happy face

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

Whether the bad day is due to the isolation, lockdown, or just a personal bad day, there are things that can be done. I have thought of simply standing on my head to make the sad face into a happy face – but since I am 76 and don’t have as good of a balance on my feet as I used to – I’m not sure I could balance on my head, so decided not to try it.

During the Covid-19 shutdown I have found that sticking to a morning routine helps tremendously. I get up and before coffee, I do a Tai Chi warmup and the Eight Pieces of Brocade. I do other exercises, depending on what type of exercise I expect to do during the day, and how much time I have. I have breakfast and do chores around the house. My family has a FaceTime call, so I try to look halfway decent for them. I am usually dressed by then. It makes my day!!!!

Whether or not we are in lockdown – there are always ups and downs in living life. I think of the triggers that might give me a down day. For me they are the holidays, special birthdays, anniversaries, and special events I did with my husband, who passed away two years ago. I plan for those days and make sure I am busy with activities. Again, I am so fortunate for my family. They make sure that I am looked after in some way and included in their days (whether it be in person, FaceTime, a call, or chocolate-covered strawberries). I am so fortunate to have such a supportive family. My local friends also treat me like family and do something special, drop off some cookies, or give me a call. I am so grateful.

What about those unexpected bad days where everything goes wrong, what do you do? Yesterday, my afternoon started off like that. My homeowners association (HOA) sent me a notice that my fence is not up to code. I must paint my fence. Again, my neighbors and friends are helping me. However, I have to buy the stain. I went to the paint store – without the correct measurements, and worse yet, I forgot my wallet. No, money was not the problem, I could go home and get that. However, I had to drive home, knowing I didn’t have my license with me. I knew there was a policeman on every corner waiting to give me a ticket. My technique for handling “bad” day situations like this is:

  1. I am not the first person to forget my license – in the worst case, I get fined if caught.
  2. It isn’t the end of the world if I don’t have the right measurements – I can remeasure.
  3. Take a deep breath – drive carefully and do the best you can.
  4. Fix what you can in a bad situation, know what is beyond your control: STOP, BREATHE, and THINK.

Do this not that

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Having a bad day? Define bad. My days have been good and bad and interchangeable. Granted, we are all experiencing some level of anxiety at this time, but how does one get out of the funk?

A few days ago I was feeling much better about my life. Quarantine was over, the shutdown was coming to an end, and I had a new found energy about my life. So what happened? How did I go from that feeling to having a complete shit day? The type of day that leaves me with a throbbing headache and a pit in my stomach. 

I know it’s stress-related, but for some reason I cannot shake it off. I’m digging deep and tapping into all my self-affirmation resources. I may experience relief for 30 minutes and then it’s back. The more desperate I am to “fix” the issue, the worse it gets.

Does that happen to you? The time when you desperately need to deal with a bad day and you cannot find the solution? It is more common that you think.

What I have learned is that during that stressful moments, the best thing you can do for yourself is to journal and identify the source of the trigger. It is not the time to come up with a game plan. The best time to rationally deal with a bad emotion is when you are feeling good. It is then that you can see the situation and solutions more clearly.

I was attending an online class called The Neuroscience of Change and I learned that emotions are passed down to the next generation. Scientists had conducted an experiment on mice where they introduced a sound and then shocked them. These mice would respond with the same anxiety level every time they heard the sound. When the next generation of mice came along, they too responded in a similar fashion when subjected to the same sound, even though no shock was administered. It is therefore possible to inherit emotions too. So am I carrying the horrors of my ancestors? Shouldn’t the same theory apply to happiness then? The answers are yes and yes. 

In my class I also learned that “We operate on a memorized set of behaviors, emotional reactions and unconscious habits.” It is during the cognitive analysis that we can make changes and “Replace old programming.” We must remember to not berate ourselves and be kind to ourselves. Learn new ways of giving and receiving love, and always remember to acknowledge your accomplishments.  

What’s wrong with having a bad day?

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

You’re having a bad day. SO WHAT?

Let me explain my perspective before I get accused of being super-insensitive.

Of course, I have bad days just like everyone else. I find ways to get over them – a walk on the beach, a phone call with a special friend, a joke – but here’s the bottom line: bad days are good for you. How else would you recognize the good days?

Here’s a little perspective: if you’re not a refugee, in a war zone, at risk of starvation, or mourning the loss of multiple members of your family, you’re in pretty good shape.

But you don’t have to suffer calamities to have a bad day, and the old expression, “my headache is worse than yours” is relevant. It may be a good idea to think through your bad day, figure out what’s really bothering you, and acknowledge it. Like Judith Viorst’s Alexander, who had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, sometimes we just have bad days and have to learn to deal with them.

Besides exercising or a brisk walk or reaching out to a friend? I know! I could sing to you, and that would have you in tears of laughter.

Or try doing something nice for someone else. The Helper Therapy Principle applies, especially during anxiety-ridden times like, oh, a pandemic. You could pick up groceries for someone who cannot, offer a hot meal to a homeless person, or spend some Zoom time with a kid who is driving his or her parents nuts.

Sometimes, just gaining a little more perspective on how not-bad your life actually is can help you turn your bad day into a better one. And remember, today will eventually end, and tomorrow is an opportunity to have a much better day. Make it a good one!

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Post 48: #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…

how we defuse #lockdown-inspired tensions

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 48. 

Stressful moment, or two, or three…

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Stress. It can eat us up.

Tension. It can engulf us.

Humor. It can release the stress.

Music. It can diffuse the tension.

All good and nice, but under lockdowns, our stress and tension have increased exponentially and a small trigger can ignite a war. So how to manage?

I use humor and music. An old friend once told me, when I first moved to Beirut, to turn everything that annoys me into a humorous situation and laugh it off. I applied this for many years and still do during these difficult times.

Another friend once told me that when you are in a tense moment, imagine everyone in front of you nude. Automatically, a smile emerges, then a snicker, then you can manage better.

I still use that one as well!

And when all else fails, I find a corner, put on my headphones, and blast the music. Depending on the time of day and the stress, I go from classical music to wild dance music. Either way, I end up relaxing a bit and changing the mood.

Smile and dance…

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On my/his last nerve…

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

Today I snapped. Oh wait, that happened yesterday, too. And the day before.

As we move toward Day 50 of lockdown, it’s inevitable that tensions arise every now and then (okay, a little bit every day). But social distancing, and the quarantine that goes with it, have a way of creating new co-dependencies. Let’s face it, Adam and I are each other’s only in-person company for the time being.

So when tensions flare up, one of us tries to make a joke. Sometimes the joke is actually funny and that takes care of that. Sometimes the joke is so incredibly stupid that we burst out laughing and the tension is gone. Sometimes, though, the joke is actually offensive and things can get more heated. At that point, a break is called for. It takes the form of music, a movie, a chat with friends…space. A little distance from one another.

One of the beautiful, positive things that has characterized my time with Adam in Spain is that nearly every night, we talk. We do that over dinner, or a game of cards, or ping-pong. We tell each other funny stories. Sometimes we debate, argue over, or discuss something – but we communicate. Slowly, we get to the point where we apologize to one another, sincerely, for whatever mean thing we said or inconsiderate thing we did. And then our good humor is restored for the rest of the evening.

After all, tomorrow is another day of lockdown, and we’ll still be each other’s only in-person company.

Attention to tensions

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Simply put, the best and most effective way to defuse conflict is avoidance. Thank goodness we have enough rooms in our house for each person to have their own space. If the door is closed, do not enter. if the headphones are on, do not interrupt. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything. These have become unwritten rules to maintain harmony in my household.

Some days that is wishful thinking. So I retreat to the only place I know I won’t be interrupted, the bathroom.

Well …..That’s the lighthearted version.

Personally, my tensions have varied in intensity, depending on the cause. I have been reassured by numerous articles validating these feelings as a normal response to a crisis. Examples of solutions offered are to breathe, meditate, go for a walk, get some sun on your face, and maintain a routine. All of which I implement in some form or another.

The most helpful aspect for me has been communicating with my friends. I have a tight group of female friends, with some of whom I share this blog, who have been pillars of support. We have been in touch daily via text, calls, or FaceTime.

In the past, because of our busy schedules and our physical distance, we did not communicate regularly and only saw each other every few months. Now we are in constant communication. We answer FaceTime calls even if we look like shit and offer support and encouragement.

The most important thing to remember is we are all feeling the repercussions of this #coronavirus crisis. Let’s cut each other some slack. Stop being so angry and disappointed in others and in ourselves.

Me and Lucy

Charlie, Metro #Washington, DC

I have a friendship that may end because of the coronavirus. We disagree mightily on the lockdown and generally how Americans are handling it. Doesn’t really matter whose position is what. What does matter is that my soon-to-be ex-friend so disapproves of my position that I’m forbidden to bring up the subject of the coronavirus. I’m beginning to wonder if the virus is going to separate us in more ways than social distancing did. In more ways than Trump vs Liberals have already separated us. Rather than coming together to fight the virus, I think we’re just to be fighting amongst ourselves about the virus like we do about politics.

In truth, I have no idea how to handle this. To shut up about something that is so much a part of our lives now, and likely for a very long time, means not talking about something that informs how we live our everyday lives. The friendship will likely now be about nothing more than talking about the weather.

I’m glad I adopted Lucy, my 15-year-old cat, a few months ago. She doesn’t give a flying fig about the lockdown. She had been living in a windowless bathroom for months after she was rescued from a home where they didn’t want her anymore. Now she’s living in high cotton. Her life couldn’t be sweeter. And every time I look at her, I realize how sweet my life is with her, lockdown be damned. She spends her days sleeping and relaxing and enjoying my company no matter what my opinion is about the lockdown.

This is Lucy

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