Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘mental health

Coping Skills

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It’s getting hard to miss the memes questioning what the deal is with 2020 so far. There is one showing the frame for a couple of swings installed next to a brick wall. Yeah, it kinda feels like that. I guess with a global pandemic for a backdrop, any other situation which arises can feel like a slap in the face. The clear video of a white police officer slowly and arrogantly suffocating a black man was a serious gut punch with reverberations riling up centuries of prejudicial inequalities.

It’s getting hard to cope.

I am not surprised to have read somewhere of a trend toward moving from inner cities to the suburbs. I am truly grateful and totally aware of the precious benefit we enjoy in having acres of green space where we can stroll to breathe in the calming balm of all that nature offers.

There was a hint of a break in the cloud cover yesterday that teased of blue sky on the way but in classic 2020 fashion, it disappointed. The sunlight never broke through a gauze of dirty white that mysteriously found a way to hang around.

Our endurance is being tested. I see it as a challenge to how we frame our perceptions. There is no beginning or end when it comes to the span of time. There won’t be a single day which can be measured as the end of the coronavirus pandemic, just as there isn’t an identifiable moment when it began. Same thing for racial prejudice.

We are on a continuum. Life is a big, long ride. Figure out a way to cope for the long haul.

I suggest we mind our manners, take care of ourselves first before helping others, but by all means, seek to help others. Maybe release our urge to so vehemently control outcomes and discover a deeper awareness of what unconscious fears are actually coloring our perceptions.

Put a little extra effort into loving ourselves and in turn, nurturing greater love for others and the world we all share.

What a lovely way to cope with the challenges of life: coping by loving.

Group hug! [after the pandemic, I mean.]

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Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2020 at 7:32 am

Flowing Again

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Problem solved. A full day in operation and the water level is holding. It was indeed the orientation of the waterfall that was contributing to the surprising loss of water every day.

The peaceful meditations of splashing water have returned to grace our idyllic surroundings once again.

Pretty good timing, given the visceral angst boiling over in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in the middle of a global pandemic that had seriously derailed the economy while killing vulnerable people with abandon.

With such a wallop of bad vibes unceasingly resonating far and wide, people understandingly are reacting with a protective perspective of wondering what more awful situation could be around the next corner. If we expect the worst, maybe it won’t hurt so much when it arrives. I remember that mindset from my years of depression.

Thinking like that may come across as protective on the surface, but it doesn’t actually work as well as the alternative. We can hold space for best possibilities.

Neither method can entirely control outcomes, but it is hard to argue that they don’t have some influence. Consider how strongly people feel about the power of prayer.

I no longer brace myself for the next possible calamity to befall us. I have grown more inclined to visualize the best possible outcome humankind can achieve. It is easier for me now that I have narrowed my focus to the power of love. Love is the answer. Love can heal all wounds.

It is time to get love flowing again, equally among all races, all income levels, all orientations.

Let the love flow and splash down over everything and everyone.

Amen.

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I Hope

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Yesterday afternoon, it occurred to me that I don’t have the same skills for conjuring up “hope” out of nowhere like I do for manifesting “love” by way of a basic mental exercise of simply doing so. Could that be a remnant from a life-long propensity for a dysthymic depressiveness?

The violent clashes between protestors and police forces seem to be getting worse around the country, while things have calmed down dramatically in the Twin Cities. Part of me fears the local rabble-rousers will become re-enthused by the expanding uproar and want to get back in the game.

Another part of me fears the possibility all this turmoil will be for naught, like too many times before. In a year or two, or five, a white police officer will kill a person of color and we’ll still be questioning how this could have happened again.

Cyndie is working a different program. Hopefully, she will prove to be more successful than me at mentally growing neural networks of hope by reducing thoughts focused on the angst of violence, looting, and arson and the racist hatred and inflammatory rhetoric fueling it all and replacing them with visions of the world as a place of equal love and acceptance for everyone.

If we can imagine it, we can build it. If we build it, they will come?

Let there be hope.

All you need is hope. Hope is all you need.

We hope you, yeah, yeah, yeah.

With a hope like that, you know you should be glad.

I Hope

Dixie Chicks  – Writer(s): Martha Maguire, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, Keb’mo’

Sunday morning, I heard the preacher say
Thou shall not kill
I don’t wanna hear nothing else about killing
And that it’s God’s will

‘Cause our children are watching us
They put their trust in us
They’re gonna be like us
So let’s learn from our history
And do it differently

I hope, for more love, more joy and laughter
I hope, you’ll have more than you’ll ever need
I hope, you’ll have more happy ever after
I hope, we can live more fearlessly
And we can lose all the pain and misery
I hope, I hope

Oh, Rosie, her man he gets too rough
That’s all she can say, he’s a good man
He don’t mean no harm
He was brought up that way

But our children are watching us
They put their trust in us
They’re gonna be like us
It’s okay for us to disagree
We can work it out lovingly

I hope, for more love, more joy and laughter
I hope, you’ll have more than you’ll ever need
I hope, you’ll have more happy ever after
I hope, you can live more fearlessly
And you can lose all the pain and misery
I hope, I hope

There must be a way to change what’s going on
No I don’t have all the answers

I hope, for more love, more joy and laughter
I hope, you’ll have more than you’ll ever need
I hope, you’ll have more happy ever after
I hope, we can all live more fearlessly
And we can lose all the pain and misery
I hope, I hope

I hope, I hope, I hope

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Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2020 at 6:00 am

Pay Attention

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Attention to what? That’s a good question.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Your posture right now.
  • Who is suffering most among those you know and love.
  • The best return for your investment of time.
  • How long it has been since you voiced appreciation to someone deserving.
  • How you might help someone less deserving.
  • Your most common habitual “tick.”
  • When you sense yourself not acting in your own best interest.
  • How false information is being used for unethical advantage.
  • What it is you are actually afraid of.
  • How long it has been since you laughed and cried at the same time.
  • What you actually ate in one day that was not a healthy choice.
  • How swiftly days become weeks and weeks become months.
  • How much sleep you are getting.
  • Maintaining a healthy social distance from all others.
  • The expression on your face when not actively smiling.
  • How much of our unspoken thinking is inadvertently communicated.
  • When you find yourself unable to ask for what you need or want.
  • The power of love.

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Written by johnwhays

May 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

No Control

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Life feels a little more out of control lately than the illusions of control we felt satisfied with while plodding along on our merry ways over the years prior. It’s noteworthy how the easily understood signs of mental strain gradually arrive and intensify as the duration of an invisible health threat drags on, expanding economic turmoil in its wake.

It is difficult to tell whether anything happening to us or around us is merely incidental or somehow related to the main news topic of the day in the midst of a pandemic viral event.

We have no control over how cold it is going to be outside this morning and are watching the budding leaves on our young trees with an anxious concern they won’t freeze just as they are beginning to unfold.

Last night, Cyndie and I had a good hard laugh over one comical “outburst” I experienced at the end of my day-job work week. Exhausted by a seemingly endless barrage of customer orders that are swamping our capacity (a good problem to have, no?) that daily threaten to overwhelm my attempts to control, I found myself mentally numb and entirely listless.

For almost the entire time the world has been shutting itself down to control the spread of the coronavirus, we have been seeing orders grow almost exponentially. It’s crazy-making.

When the day finally passed into the darkness of night, I rallied the energy to get my butt up off the bed to ready myself for a good night’s sleep. Dragging the shirt off my shoulders, I considered just throwing it at the closet in demonstration of my contempt for… well, just everything. But my routine prevailed.

It would merely cause me more effort later to pick up, so I grabbed the hanger as usual.

Still seeking to protest the facade of anything being usual, the thought occurred that I might not button the collar as is my habit before rehanging a shirt. I could just shove it onto the closet to hang on the rod with utter disdain.

Except, I couldn’t. That fastidious habit has become too ingrained.

I went in to brush my teeth, because skipping that grooming habit was one I tried last weekend and was quickly reminded that it definitely wasn’t worth it by morning, and described my ridiculous moment of ‘almost’ rebellion to Cyndie. We laughed heartily over the embarrassingly infantile attempt to lash out.

The sad truth of it all is how far from suffering our life is at this point. I’m feeling all angsty over a level of stress that is of no comparison to the hardships so many others are living right now. I can’t imagine their version of not having control. It’s heartbreaking.

Somehow, I hope we all muster the gumption to soldier on and take care of ourselves and others.

It really is the better option compared to giving up and throwing our shirts on the floor of the closet.

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Written by johnwhays

May 8, 2020 at 7:16 am

Practicing Life

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In the vein of practicing medicine –isn’t it a little scary that we say doctors are “practicing?”– I figure I am practicing life, but without a license from any official authority. Without a license, I’m not supposed to offer formal advice to others on matters of health and wellness, but that seems like a lost opportunity regarding the life lessons I have experienced through my years.

Alas, the act of living healthy is something I share with others by way of simply doing it. I’m practicing living healthy every day and attempting to add a little love in the world while I’m at it.

By far, the most significant step in my life’s journey toward optimal health happened when I sought treatment for depression. The years when I put my focus on diet and exercise prior to diagnosis of my dysfunctional mental health had me spinning my wheels. In the time since I learned to conduct my thoughts in a healthy manner, the benefits of my other efforts increased noticeably.

I dare say the steps I have put in place in my life would suit others equally well if practiced as a way of life. Too bad I’ve no license to prescribe such medicine and be compensated. On the other hand, I do have plenty of opportunities to give my advice for free.

The most significant point I express regarding the quest for best health is that it is an everyday effort for as many years as we may live. However many days (years) we might have traveled an unhealthy path must, at the very least, be equaled in time in order to undo. There aren’t any quick fixes that can be achieved by temporary endeavors.

You’ve got to play the long game.

The good news is that benefits are available along the way and the journey gets easier and more rewarding as you go. You don’t need to wait for some magic day when everything becomes rainbows and unicorns.

Eat well, exercise your body and mind, practice loving self and others with all your heart. Do it every day. Keep it up for the rest of your life.

Call me in the morning.

No charge. The nurse will show you out.

Have a good life!

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Other View

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‘Twas the day before the US Thanksgiving, and I’m already home from work. Why? SNOW DAY! Hello, to the first big snow event of this season. All day long yesterday the specter of this looming winter storm hung heavy in the air at the day-job. The dramatic potential was all over the news as the weather service warning covered a multitude of states across the heartland of our country for the day before the national holiday.

Staff started making decisions based on the likelihood of the coming weather disruption, which meant moving some actions up a day and delaying others until next week. Compounding anxiety over the weather was a moderate epidemic of ill health making its way through the workplace.

More than one person decided in advance to stay home today, myself included.

In the hour-long commute home yesterday afternoon, I vacillated between an impression from the heavy gray sky of near-immediacy for the flakes to start falling, compared to another view where the clouds were thin and it seemed almost sunny. The differing views noticeably altered my mindset.

It reminded me of a discussion earlier in the day over the impact our minds have over framing how were are feeling when “under the weather” with illness. Personally, I am inclined to whimper at home with Cyndie when I get sick, lamenting over how critically ill I must certainly be, despite my belief that mentally willing myself to feel better holds more power to improve conditions for me, as well as those around me.

All that needs to happen is a change in how I view things. Imagine if citizens would allow themselves an open mind to view societal issues from an alternate perspective to see how they fit into an ethical and loving framework. What would it be like to be able to engage in a constructively curious dialog with someone who holds an opposing view about important issues?

Conversely, think about how we constrict ourselves when confining our news and information feeds to a narrow array of sources backed by specific corporate interests. No single view holds exclusive rights to absolute correctness.

The weather, our health, the economy, our democracy… all of these look different depending on how we view them.

We would all do better if more people made an honest effort to view these issues from a loving perspective that is not based on fear.

Today, I am going to view all the snow that is falling with an attitude of awe for the transforming beauty it brings to our otherwise barren forest landscapes. I’ll also be viewing the snow from the seat of our Grizzly ATV while pushing it off and away from our driveway.

It’s beginning to look a lot like winter at Wintervale…

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Written by johnwhays

November 27, 2019 at 7:00 am

Wholeness

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Words on Images

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It’s Like

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It’s like one of those days when you are enjoying a fresh bite of an incredibly delicious meal and your teeth suddenly chomp on your own flesh.

It’s like the time lost waiting for a page to load, watching the progress bar fill to the last little bit where it pauses for far too long before finally jumping to a page that announces the failure to load and suggests the possibility the page has moved. Really? My gmail site has moved?

It’s like the umpteenth time of settling down into a reclined position and then discovering your reading glasses were left somewhere far out of reach.

It’s coming to realize that you can’t remember what it was like when you didn’t need reading glasses.

It’s that second time you bite the swollen wound on the inside of your lip from two days before.

It’s like that moment when screwing in the last of twelve screws to secure the cover of something you just fixed and finding there is one last part remaining to be reinstalled.

It’s like that feeling when re-reading your own business email message included in a reply sent by your customer or vendor and finding a writing error that disturbingly undermines your intended message in the first place.

It’s like waking up to shower for work, getting dressed, and heading out the door before discovering there are still two-and-a-half hours left until your alarm is due to go off.

It’s also like the day you embraced the ability to overcome the chemical reaction unleashed in the brain by these uninvited incidents to frame them in the grand scheme of things as not deserving more than a moment’s chagrin.

It’s like the chemical rush of endorphins that cascade on the first scrumptious bite of your all-time favorite deep-dish pizza pie.

It’s like the rich appreciation possible when pausing to count privileged blessings for all of the times when web pages load without hesitation, a soft chair or warm bed is available for reclining, reading glasses are at the ready, you wrote just the right message in a business communication, and you got a healthy, full night’s sleep.

With practice, we can choose to determine what each of life’s foibles are like for us.

Make a healthy choice!

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Written by johnwhays

November 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

Sun Rises

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Today marks the return of Standard Time for most people in the U.S. but the sun paid no attention. The earth and sun did nothing unusual to change our circadian rhythms today.

Cyndie captured this image a few minutes before the sun appeared. It didn’t matter to the universe what time our clocks were set to read.

We will reconcile the adjustment to an apparent hour-earlier darkness because we must. Society has yet to reconcile our differing opinions about changing clocks twice a year, but science appears to be leaning toward the conclusion that better health and well-being is possible by eliminating the bi-annual clock adjustment and maintaining Standard Time year-round.
 (Ref: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0748730419854197)

I have a good friend who never hesitates to remind me how much he likes that we adjust the clocks twice a year to alter the daylight for our routine activities. He is not alone, which explains why the repeated debates arise twice every year in the spring and fall yet nothing seems to come of it.

It’s not the kind of thing that we can each just choose for ourselves. It’s a lot like our national leadership. Independents don’t hold much sway in our two-party system and we can’t each choose to follow our own preferred President. We need to function in a system whether we agree with it or not.

The sun and the earth don’t care either way. For some reason, I find solace in that. Knowing the universe pays no heed to our trifling clock settings helps me cope with a system to which I disagree.

It hasn’t helped as well with tolerating national leadership that shows no interest in helping shift us away from abusing the planet to everyone’s detriment. I suspect the universe will have the last laugh in that contest.

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Written by johnwhays

November 3, 2019 at 11:05 am