Ad Spot

KAUFMANN: From meltdown to calm down

One projected meltdown per week was penciled into my calendar. I knew that either I, one of my children, or both would potentially be overwhelmed each time. Was it a blessing that the trials were spaced out, or would it be better to suffer all at once?

Actually, the August page said something more like “Daughter resumes nursing clinicals” and “Move son to distant dorm room.” Early September included “Meet with high school staff to discuss in-person learning protocols for younger son” and “Begin new semester of teaching.”

This pandemic has us all concerned with what will happen next. Whether or not we have relatives returning to school as students or staff, there seems to be a collective sense of holding our breath. We are waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop; the other shoe, anyway. The first one already fell — hard.

As we gather in schools, and soon in gyms, following safety procedures should help keep us healthy. But there are still many smouldering “what-ifs” lingering in our heads that can ignite fires of anxiety in our hearts.

Being consumed with anxiety about the future makes us less able to cope with the present. Stress-filled pandemic months can also take a slow toll on our health. We need some practical strategies to turn our meltdowns into “calm downs.”

I did some research to find the best free, accessible, and effective stress management techniques for COVID-19 weary folks. Here is what I found:

Limit time spent checking news. We should stay informed, but sometimes too much news consumption can fuel our panic. Checking a few trustworthy sources for updates on a regular basis can be enough.

Set aside worry time. How about giving ourselves 15 minutes a day to verbalize or write down our concerns about the virus? When time is up, we can get on with the business of living today’s life. If a worrisome thought occurs later in the day, we can defer it to tomorrow’s “appointment.”

Practice being present. When our thoughts begin to race, we can practice grounding ourselves in our bodies. We ask, “What am I feeling right now?” We pay attention to the taste of food, the sensations in our fingers, the warmth of exhaled breath.

Take a few deep breaths. Simply taking slow, deep breaths for one minute can lower blood pressure and heart rate. This is my favorite go-to method to calm myself. Try breathing in deeply through the nose for a count of four and out for a count of six.

Focus on what we can control. Hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing are all things we can do to help prevent the spread of the virus. Getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy foods, getting exercise, establishing a routine, and taking time for things we enjoy can help strengthen our overall health.

Stay connected. Last but certainly not least, we need each other. When we feel threatened, we need our community. We can stay connected through phone, text, Zoom, social media, semaphore, smoke signal — whatever it takes. If we tend to withdraw when we are stressed out, we can set up a standing appointment with a trusted relative or friend. We can check on isolated neighbors. We can meet someone else’s practical needs and, by doing so, transform their worry into a smile.

Berrien County

Following pursuit, two arrested for armed robbery at Admiral Gas Station

Breaking News

COVID-19 UPDATE: Cass County reports one new COVID-19 death

Dowagiac

Dowagiac City Council approves first responder hazard pay

News

Niles marijuana partner resigns following criminal charges

Berrien County

Benton Harbor man pleads guilty to Niles shooting

Dowagiac

Despite rising COVID-19 cases, Dowagiac schools vote to return to in-person learning

Business

Niles City Council gives marijuana business 90-day extension

News

Michigan outdoors open for fall fun

Berrien County

Cass County Courts to continue to provide the public with access to justice via Zoom during COVID-19

Business

Local cinema readies to reopen after seven months

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Board of Education approves return to in-person instruction

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 122,735 cases, 6,731 deaths

Berrien County

Niles man pleads guilty to meth use

Berrien County

Absentee voting begins in Michigan

Berrien County

Berrien County Circuit Judge Charles LaSata elected as an officer of the Michigan Judges Association

Dowagiac

SMC enrolls 1,800 students for fall 2020

Berrien County

MDHHS makes COVID-19 recommendations about Halloween trick-or-treating, celebrations

News

Apple Festival Harvest Market offers venue for local vendors to sell wares

Berrien County

Region sees upward trend in house sales, values

Cass County

Cass County Fair to host Halloween campout

Business

Dowagiac business celebrates 40 years

Berrien County

Gov. Whitmer reopens movie theaters, strengthens mask requirements in schools

Berrien County

Sign ups now open for annual Rake a Difference event

Dowagiac

SMC president provides school update to Rotary