The Benefits Of Spring Cleaning

The Benefits Of Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning offers many health benefits

The Benefits Of Spring Cleaning

By D. S. Mitchell

The first day of spring, is March 20, which means it is time for spring cleaning. Washing windows, moving furniture, organizing the pantry are all big projects, but such annual tasks provide big benefits. Spring cleaning is more than just picking up your space, or tidying up a bit; it is about improving overall well-being. Organization and cleanliness can provide unexpected health benefits; read on.

Turn On The Feel Good Hormones

There is a proven connection between cleanliness, organization, and mental health. Studies have shown that a clean home and tidy surroundings are directly correlated to happiness, and the all important ability to focus. Clutter causes anxiety to spike. Laundry piling up in the corner, papers, and mail, strewn carelessly about on the floor and various surfaces can be overwhelming. If you want a boost in your mood, clean up. Cleaning the clutter will turn on those hormones that improve mood, and general attitude.

Send Germs Packing

Cleaning items that are touched frequently is a good place to start. Cleaning and sanitizing on a regular basis, not just as spring arrives, is a proven way to reduce the spread of germs. Keeping household surfaces clean can help reduce the spread of viruses and illnesses. Doorknobs, refrigerator handles, light switches, countertops, and TV remotes, are all places that germs are hanging out waiting to spread infection. Wipe it down and stay healthy.

Breathe Better  

I’ve suffered with asthma all my life. Dust and pollen can trigger an attack; causing me to cough, wheeze and struggle to breathe.  With spring comes pollen that aggravates such allergies. Pollen, however, isn’t the only thing floating about causing breathing problems. The build up of dust and pet dander can also cause respiratory problems, particularly for the vulnerable. Spring is the time for ‘deep-cleaning’. Changing out your air filters, furnace filters, and vents will go a long way to improving your overall health.

Get Moving 

Get up off the couch and get to work. Just running the vacuum and picking up the surface clutter will make you feel better. With that goal in mind here are a few tips from the internet to help you with the spring cleaning tradition.

Room by Room: Skip the areas that you clean regularly and focus on areas that are generally ignored or neglected.  Create a cleaning checklist for each room to help you stay on track and remind you what areas need special attention.

Seasonal Projects: Many tasks are seasonal, such as boxing and storing winter clothing, bedding, skis,  sleds, and decor. As you are putting away the memories of winter you will be preparing for summer activities.  Clean the grill, sweep the patio, wash exterior windows. Unpack summer linens, open the drapes and invite the sunshine in.

Clear And Organize: Focus on getting rid of clutter. Leticia Almeida, on her website, suggested a 4-step approach. “Identify problem areas, analyze reasons for the clutter, determine solutions and implement them. Sorting your belongings into four categories-trash, give away, store, or put away. . . ” is highly effective.  Her number one suggestion is “move the clutter as soon as possible, whether it’s bringing a donation box to a charity or having a garage sale.” (www.thespruce.com)

Enlist The Family: Make the Spring Cleaning project, a family affair. Young kids can be fun and imaginative, and excellent helpers. Assign tasks, and make everyone feel included. Turn on the tunes and plan a dinner at your favorite restaurant as a reward when the work is done.

My Take

Several of the experts suggest you break up the spring cleaning tasks in to multiple days to ‘establish cleaning habits’ that will last the rest of the year, encouraging you to spend 10-15 minutes a day straightening up and de-cluttering year round. Sorry, experts, I cannot deal with the mess that comes with cleaning, to want to extend it into several weeks; enjoying it in small doses. For me, it is all or nothing. Plus. it is easier to get help for a full eight hours, one day, or maybe a second day, but never a dozen days for half an hour a shot.  So, figure out what you want done and when you want it done and get on the phone and ask for help if you need it.

Cannabis: A Safe Exit From Addiction

OPINION:

Cannabis: A Safe Exit From AddictionIf you are experiencing side effects with your pharmaceuticals you might give cannabis a try

OPINION:

Cannabis: A Safe Exit From Addiction

Editor: Cannabis and its usage by humans dates back at least 8,000 years. For millennia, the plant has been valued as fiber and rope, as food and medicine, and also for its psychoactive properties for religious and recreational use. Some have gone so far to declare it a ‘miracle’ plant.

 

By D. S. Mitchell

 

The Controlled Substance Act

In 1969, Richard Nixon, announced that Attorney General, John Mitchell was  preparing a comprehensive new measure to more effectively meet the narcotic and dangerous drug problems challenging the country. At the federal level, Mitchell devised the Controlled Substance Act. The Act combined all existing federal laws and expanded their scope into a single new statute. More importantly, the CSA changed the nature of federal drug law policies and expanded federal law enforcement authority over controlled substances.

Fear Of Success

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, established the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. Raymond Shafer, one of the bill’s sponsor’s fearing it’s restrictive nature, made this statement to Congress, “The criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior.”

Continue reading

5 Finger Death Punch “Wrong Side of Heaven”

5 Finger Death Punch

“Wrong Side of Heaven”

5 Finger Death Punch

“Wrong Side of Heaven”

As we end 2021, we are for the first time in decades not in a declared war, anywhere in the world.  In 2013, while we were still embedded in Afghanistan, Five Finger Death Punch released this incredible single, off of their fourth album. Veterans then as now, are facing homelessness, drug addiction, alcoholism, divorce, and mental illness. Awareness leads to solutions. With that thought in mind, here is the Calamity Politics Jukebox Choice of the Day. Sing along, lyrics below:

Continue reading

Clutching My Teddy Bear

Clutching  My Teddy Bear

Teddy Bears can help you make it through tough times.

Clutching My Teddy Bear

By Dani Davis

2021 has been a tough year for me. Thankfully, it is almost over. 

Let There Be Light

My 2021 experience probably isn’t any worse than anyone else out there, but I have a place to talk about it; so I’m talking to you. First, let me tell you up front, the time between Thanksgiving and New Years is traditionally a bad time for me. I can’t really call it Seasonal Depression *(SAD) although it does occur at the same time every year. I do use light therapy and journaling, to help me get through. Maybe . . . it is undiagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder. Denial is not new to me. For about a decade I would drink my way through that 35 day period. Thankfully, I put a stop to all that nonsense many years ago; totally unproductive behavior, and certainly hard on relationships.

Online Shopping

I was on the internet shopping for a couple of winter solstice gifts when an ad for GUND teddy bears popped up. For some inexplicable reason I knew I needed to buy one. As it turned out, I bought four! One for a friend in an Alzheimer’s Memory Care unit, one for a friend with chronic depression, one for another friend suffering from severe anxiety, and one for myself. Each of the bears were significantly different. I didn’t want to worry about us mixing up our teddies.

Anxiously Awaiting Delivery

Just the thought of holding a teddy bear was reassuring. I wondered why I couldn’t remember when I had last seen my childhood teddy, with his missing eye and torn ear. We had shared so much, I wonder when I abandoned him, for other friends? Mostly, I remember how soft and crushable he was. The ad described the GUND bears as ‘plush’ ‘cuddly’ and ‘huggable’. Perfect. I could hardly wait for the box to show up at my doorstep. In fact, I went back several times to the Amazon site to look at the pictures, trying to decide which bear would go to which recipient.

Continue reading

Suicide Is Permanent, Please Stay

Suicide Is Permanent, Please Stay

Suicide Is Permanent, Please Stay

D. S. Mitchell

Just The Facts

If you are between 15-35, suicide is the second leading cause of death for your age group.  For all age groups, suicide is responsible for more deaths than murder and natural disasters, combined.  Men take their own lives four times as often as women. Many men sadly would rather be dead than seem ‘weak.’

Those Left Behind

As you can see, suicide is not a rare, or isolated event. It is very real and definitely permanent, and it leaves those who are left behind, in utter despair. For them the suicide event is plagued by stigma, guilt and self-recrimination. The most common question from those left behind is, “what could I have done differently?”

A Societal Contract

Suicide is like the tentacles of an octopus wrapping itself around all of us, casting doubt on hope, and future.  It tears at our social fabric and brings into question society’s compact with the individual.  Whether spoken or unspoken, we as people, are part of a greater society.  As a society, we have agreed to a collective future, a means to provide for our children, to continue our culture, to sustain our existence at all cost. Jennifer Michael Hecht wrote,  Stay: A History of Suicide and the Arguments Against it. And in her words,  “Either the universe is a cold dead place with solitary sentient beings, or we are all alive together, committed to persevere.”

Continue reading

10 Plus Tips To Cope With Anxiety

Got Holiday Anxiety?

With Thanksgiving comes tension for some. . .

10 Plus Tips To Cope


Don’t Let Anxiety Ruin Your Holidays

By D. S. Mitchell 

Turkey and Pumpkin Pie 

The holidays are right around the corner. Some are excited about turkey and gravy, and fancy wrapped presents, but others see only stress and anxiety on the horizon. If you are hosting parties, the stress level is on steroids; fancy china, excited young ones, guests, surprise and otherwise. It can seem overwhelming. Read on if you are looking for some tips on how to get you through the holidays as anxiety free as possible.

Be Ready

Stay rested and recharged, ahead of the holidays. Take time for yourself.  Get enough sleep, engage in activities that you enjoy and make you feel good. Don’t skip self care routines under the pressure of the approaching holidays. Don’t do it-skipping health care routines will cost in the long run. You need that 30 minutes of cardio and any other health activities you are engaged in. These activities will keep you balanced and ready to face the upcoming holiday challenges. It just might be yoga, biking, stretching, Tai Chi, or  aqua aerobics, that  saves your sanity.

Everyone has different triggers, and identifying them is one of the most important steps to coping and managing anxiety attacks. Common ones, your first day at a new job, heading an important meeting, meeting your SO’s parents. Time and reflection will be required to identify your triggers. In the meantime, there are things you can do to try to help calm or quiet your anxious mind.

4.) Use aromatherapy

Whether they’re in oil form, incense, or a candle, scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood are soothing. Certain receptors in your brain are activated by aromatherapy.

5.) Walking or Yoga

Just walk away if the situation is causing anxiety. It might be time to focus on  your body and not your mind to relieve your anxiety. Just move. Whether it’s the pool or the yoga mat, move your butt, it helps reduce stress. Try stretching, it can be incredibly beneficial.

6.) Write down your thoughts

Many mental health therapists suggest a client write down what’s causing their anxiety. Writing it down, gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting. My mother used this one, on a regular basis. She would write letters to the offenders and put them in envelopes addressed to whoever was causing her frustration and then stick it in a file, never sending it.

Not All Anxiety Is The Same
The previous suggestions are helpful if your symptoms are situational or sporadic. If anxiety is an on-going, persistent part of you life you may need more serious interventions and coping strategies.
Five Strategies For Coping With Long-Term Illness 

If anxiety is a regular part of your life, not just around the holidays, it’s important to find treatment strategies to help you manage it. There might be a combination of things, like talk therapy and meditation, or perhaps cutting out or resolving your anxiety trigger. Confused, as to where to start? It is always helpful to discuss options with a mental health professional who might suggest something you hadn’t thought of before moving ahead with your plan.

Some Well-Known Triggers:
  • debt
  • a stressful work environment
  • traveling
  • driving
  • DNA-genetics — anxiety, depression, alcoholism can run in families
  • drug withdrawal
  • medication side effects
  • trauma
  • phobias, such as agoraphobia (fear of crowded or open spaces) and claustrophobia (fear of small spaces)
  • some chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma
  • chronic pain
  • multiple mental illness diagnoses (such as depression, OCDC, anxiety)
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
Managing Those Triggers

Sometimes triggers can be obvious, such as caffeine, alcohol consumption, and drug use. Other times triggers are less obvious and we may need a therapist to help us isolate those triggers. Long-term stress, such as financial or work-related situations, can be more difficult— is it a due date, a person, or the situation? At this point you may need some extra support, through therapy or with some trusted friends.

Then What?

Once you do figure out your trigger(s), you should try to limit your exposure to them if you can. If you can’t limit it — say because it is due to a stressful work environment that you can’t currently change — using other coping techniques may help.

1.) Try Meditation

A successful meditation regime will take time and practice.  When done regularly, you can train your brain to dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise. If sitting still and concentrating is difficult, try starting your exercise routine with more active physical exertion and then start your yoga routine.

2.) Adopt Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people learn different ways of thinking about and reacting to anxiety-causing situations. A therapist can help you develop ways to change negative thought patterns and behaviors before they spiral into a panic attack.

3.) Healthy Diet, Regular Exercise, Embrace Life 

Exercise regularly. Eat balanced meals. Get enough sleep. Stay connected to people who care about you. You may want to talk to your psychiatrist about adding supplements or nutrients to your long-term strategy.

4.) Consider Adding Supplements

Research shows certain supplements or nutrients help reduce anxiety symptoms. Some of these include:

  • lemon balm
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • green tea
  • valerian root
  • dark chocolate (in moderation)

It can take up to three months before your body is actually using the nutrition these herbs and foods provide. If you’re taking other medications, make sure to discuss herbal remedies with your doctor. I’ve said that twice. I cannot say it enough. Different medications interact with one another whether OTC  or prescription. Talk to your doc.

5.) Prescription Medications

If your anxiety is severe enough that your mental health practitioner believes you’d benefit from psychotropic medication, there are a number of directions to go, depending on your symptoms. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Is My Anxiety Harmful?

Identifying what variety of anxiety you’re dealing with can be challenging-mainly because everyone’s body reacts to danger in entirely different ways. I’m sure you have heard “anxiety” used as a general term for feeling worry, uneasiness, or nervousness. It is often situational, a big dance, a speech, a tryout; it is often a feeling grown in response to an upcoming event that has an uncertain outcome. Every human being deals with such emotions-at some time in their life. It is part of how we are wired, our brains respond to perceived danger, even if there is no real danger.

Things Can Get Dark

There are times anxiety can get serious and turn into anxiety attacks that may begin slowly and initially feel manageable, but build up over a few hours. (Panic attacks are different. A panic attack comes out of the blue and then subsides.)

Signs and Symptoms of an anxiety attack

These are some of the more common mental and physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • feelings of danger, panic, or dread
  • nervousness/restlessness
  • rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • trembling/chills
  • tiredness/weakness
  • gastric problems
  • difficulty focusing
  • rapid breathing, hyperventilating

It is possible to have both an anxiety and panic attack simultaneously. The quick coping strategies mentioned above may also help with a panic attack.

Try focusing on an object, repeating a mantra, closing your eyes, and going to your happy place.

Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Causes of Anxiety

If you notice that quick tips haven’t been working, you may want to consider seeing a professional for help. Especially if you believe you have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and the symptoms are interfering with your daily routine and physical symptoms. A mental health professional can help with identifying your triggers, maintaining long-term strategies through behavioral therapy, medications, and more.

Living With Anxiety 

If your anxiety stems from a past trauma, it can be helpful to work through those issues with a licensed therapist. On the other hand, if your brain chemistry predisposes you to persistent, chronic anxiety, you may need to go on medication to manage it. Anxiety is likely to continue to be part of your life, but it doesn’t need to take over your life.  Treatment is available to help control those painful symptoms and make those holidays at least tolerable.

OPINION: Hope in the Era of COVID-19

OPINION:

Hope In The Era of COVID-19

COVID-19 is the scariest health risk most living humans have ever seen.

COVID-19 virus is the worst pandemic the majority of humanity has ever seen.

By Anna Hessel

Disaster In Progress

The COVID-19 virus is the worst pandemic the majority of humanity has ever seen. Public panic is on a level with the Yellow Fever epidemic which broke out in Philadelphia, PA, in 1793.  Over that spring and summer more than 4,000 people died. Paranoia of the “black vomit of death” had people covering their mouths and noses with vinegar-soaked cloths.  The death toll included the first husband of then-future First Lady Dolley Madison and their baby boy.  Some are saying this pandemic is similar to a resurgence of tuberculosis or polio.  We are a nation living in fear, not faith, because of the gravity of the COVID-19 crisis.  Feeling helpless, anxious and abandoned, we yearn for a return to normalcy.

Those Most At Risk

Even well-known celebrities and the wealthy are coming down with coronavirus. The most vulnerable in our society are being the hardest hit. The elderly, disabled, immunocompromised, and lower-income people are more likely to contract the virus than the wealthy. Blacks and Latinos are suffering the most deaths. The most vulnerable are less likely to recover, due to lack of health care benefits. They are suffering in other ways during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well.

The Most Fragile

Hunger is a real danger in the time of COVID-19.

Hunger is a new reality for many more Americans.

These fragile people are the ones most in need of government help. Crowded Human Service offices are being shut down.  Food pantries typically have small waiting areas and limited shelf stock. Many food banks can now only offer a couple of bags of food in a drive-through environment. Folks without access to a vehicle who rely on public transportation or their own two feet and need food assistance may not receive the needed help. These life-line organizations are running low on provisions and in fact are likely to run out of food. Recent cuts to food stamps are an extra threat to food security. Furthermore, those dependent on apartment laundry rooms or commercial laundromats, face an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, because of the communal areas.

Continue reading

The Last Goodbye

The Last Goodbye

By D.S. Mitchell

As we hurry through life, we meet many people. Some are just a touch on the sleeve, quickly forgotten, while others become part of the fabric of our lives. Becoming enmeshed in the life of another person can be a good thing, but just as often it can be a bad thing.

When a once healthy relationship sours, whether after five years or forty, we are often left confused about what happened. In other cases, we know exactly what happened and wonder why we let ourselves continue a relationship that was not only unhealthy, but harmful to us, for as long as we did.

With the holidays coming at us like Richard Petty heading into a straight away, I am cleaning out my relationship closet. Sometimes the holidays magnify everything that you know is wrong with that broken friendship.

But for a thousand reasons, you keep fussing with it, nurturing it, feeding it; hoping it will surge back to life. Sometimes it does fire back to life, but usually the relationship is on life support by this time and is sputtering toward extinction. The end-time; being the only unknown.

Let me explain. I am a rescuer,  I mean, a rescuer on steroids. The worse the situation; the bigger my cape. I have spent most of my life working as an RN. Most of my nurse buddies have the same affliction.

I guess when I think about it, it makes sense. Nurses want to make everything and everybody better.  We’ll fluff and buff, arranging everything just so. That personality quirk might be okay in the hospital, but when carried into life it can be painfully unsuccessful.

In my case, the end came last weekend. After knowing Dave for 35 years I am finally done.  I have severed all communication. I cannot and will not resume the relationship. His illness has reached a point that I can no longer be of any help. In fact, my involvement may be contributing to his worsening symptoms.

I finally recognize he is worse for me than pneumonia. No tears, no anger, just acceptance and relief. When the burden of another person’s mental illness becomes too heavy to drag another inch you have to put the burden down. There should be no guilt. At this point, your only goal should be to preserve your own mental well-being.

The only reason I am sharing this with the world is that I thought it might help someone else who is struggling with mental illness in a relationship.  I know you hear it repeated, but there is a great deal of truth in being able to put yourself first.

Maybe not always, but at some point if you can’t be number one, you won’t be able to help him, or you. No matter that it is Christmas, somethings can’t wait to end. Sometimes the last goodbye is the sweetest, the most honest, and the most necessary.

**I have no safety concerns with Dave. He is  a non-violent person. That is not always the case with those suffering from a mental disorder. The assumption in my article is that the person you are separating from is under the care of a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner and has made no recent suicide threats, or threatened your life.

If the person in question has made recent threatening statements, please let the person’s mental health providers know about the situation and involve them immediately. And, yes, in some extreme circumstances the police may become involved. Don’t under any circumstances put your safety at risk.* *

Editorial: Teen Suicide Streaming

EDITORIAL:

Teen Suicide Streaming

By Trevor K. McNeil

Thirteen Reasons

There is often a debate about whether art is imitating life or life is imitating art. Then there are cases when the situation is clear. The thoroughly depressing Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why” is based on the Young Adult novel of the same name. The book, and now the series is a direct response to instances of teenagers, and even younger kids, posting social media videos that either directly detail their plans to commit suicide, or are released just before these  young people tragically take their own lives.

A Playlist on YouTube

So-called “suicide videos” have become so common they almost constitute a genre unto themselves. There are even playlists of them on YouTube. Let’s all just take a minute and reflect on that. Everybody thoroughly disgusted and disturbed? Good, then we’ll continue. While they came as something of a shock at first, suicide videos are really more of a natural side-effect of social media itself. Give people the ability to record and release anything and they will. For better or worse.

Continue reading

Please Stay, Suicide Is Permanent

Please Stay, Suicide Is Permanent

Please Stay, Suicide Is Permanent

D. S. Mitchell

Just The Facts

If you are between 15-35, suicide is the second leading cause of death for your age group.  For all age groups, suicide is responsible for more deaths than murder and natural disasters, combined.  Men take their own lives four times as often as women. Many men sadly would rather be dead than seem ‘weak.’

Those Left Behind

As you can see, suicide is not a rare, or isolated event. It is very real and definitely permanent, and it leaves those who are left behind, in utter despair. For them the suicide event is plagued by stigma, guilt and self-recrimination. The most common question from those left behind is, “what could I have done differently?”

A Societal Contract

Suicide is like the tentacles of an octopus wrapping itself around all of us, casting doubt on hope, and future.  It tears at our social fabric and brings into question society’s compact with the individual.  Whether spoken or unspoken, we as people, are part of a greater society.  As a society, we have agreed to a collective future, a means to provide for our children, to continue our culture, to sustain our existence at all cost. Jennifer Michael Hecht wrote,  Stay: A History of Suicide and the Arguments Against it. And in her words,  “Either the universe is a cold dead place with solitary sentient beings, or we are all alive together, committed to persevere.”

Continue reading