I have not written for quite some time. Life got busy. A pandemic hit. My husband lost his job. I went back to work full-time. Each of my grown children had their own crises to sort through. I started two different non-profits – one sewed more than 5000 masks for local health care providers and the other continues to inform our local community about how to stay safe and where to get tested. I resigned from both of the organizations I started when it became apparent that trying to lead them plus work full-time plus help kids plus try to be a respectful and supportive partner was just too much. I got sick. I got better. I got tired. I resolved to return to part time work in January and that’s just what I’m doing.
I work in outpatient surgery/women’s health so, although several of our patients have admitted to testing positive after coming to our clinic, my exposure is NOTHING like that of my daughter (a hospitalist) or her husband (a critical care specialist) who lead teams devoted to caring for critically ill COVID patients all day every day at work. They both got it early on, when their hospital was short on PPE. They are young and recovered, but nothing can help you recover from the daily emotional trauma of families cut off from their failing loved ones.
It’s long. We all have pandemic fatigue. What can we do to keep ourselves healthy? Other than excellent nutrition, conscientious exercise, and appropriate precautions, it turns out practicing gratitude helps. A recent article in the online news journal MD Linx describes the multiple health benefits of gratitude including reducing inflammation, BP, HR, and improved mental health and overall well-being. Sure, I thought, that’s great but how to be grateful? Other than the election which saw the demise of the Trump dynasty, there’s not a lot to be grateful for. Thank goodness the article described in depth how to do it. Here’s an excerpt and the citiation:
“All of this raises an important question: How do you start cultivating feelings of gratitude? According to some health experts, one of the best ways to do this is through writing. In his interview with NPR last year, Dr. Fox said that journaling can help condition the brain to feel more grateful more often. Fox, who completed his PhD on the neural bases of gratitude, began his own gratitude journal while grieving the death of his mother. While it didn’t stop the pain, he said he helped make the ordeal far more manageable and changed his perception of the tough time he was going through.
Gratitude journaling can take many forms. You can write down all the things you’ve felt grateful for in the past 24 hours, or you can focus on one good event and try to write down all the details of it. You can even write letters that don’t intend to send—simply the act of writing could help train your brain to acknowledge the positive sides of life well into the future.So grab a pen, get comfy, and consider all the good things in your life—from significant long-term relationships to minor things like a nice coffee break.”
Since my handwriting is atrocious, I grabbed my computer. Same thing. So day one I will focus on being grateful for my continued health and ability to financially withstand reducing my hours to part-time in January. These are not small things to be grateful for. In fact they are HUGE. So many Americans cannot make those statements. So, ok, your turn. Let’s take care of ourselves the best we can, and try to include gratitude every day. I am grateful to anyone out there that may be reading this, and especially grateful if it helps you.