Readers who are too young to be on Medicare didn’t get the advice those of us who are recently received by email. I’m not an expert when it comes to dealing with stress, but I do have quite a bit of experience with stress. Some are more susceptible to stress than others, and I’m in that group. And I resent those of you who are not. (Just kidding, the truth is that I admire you.)
Anyway, those of us on Medicare received an email this week with some suggested ways to cope with stress. None of the suggestions require the IQ of a Mensa Scholar, but they make sense to me. And even if you are not on Medicare, you may want to consider them.
The first one is clearly the most important and most needed for me: “Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.” Yep, I watch, read, and listen to too much news about Covid-19 and it upsets me. But it’s not just the news about Covid-19 that stresses me; all the back and forth with politicians and political news makes it even worse. This first suggestion makes so much sense to me that I’m cutting way back on my engagement with the news.
The second suggestion is also much needed by many of us: “Take care of your body.” Some important specifics follow: “Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well balanced meals. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol and drugs.” Again, it all makes sense to me; and I’m taking baby steps with all these except avoiding alcohol and drugs – which is not an issue for me.
During these days of staying home I don’t often need the third suggestion: “Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.” The only time I need to unwind is after I’ve rigorously competed with our grandsons in games like Chutes and Ladders, Moustache Smash, and games they’ve invented that involve running and throwing soft objects at one another. To unwind I’ve been watching a lot of TV shows in black and white that I watched as a youngster.
The fourth and final suggestion made by Medicare is perhaps the most difficult: “Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.” Given the restrictions most of us are under, it’s not easy to activate this one. My friends and I are not playing golf or going out to breakfast or lunch. And the stereotype when it comes to men is largely true – we don’t often talk about our concerns and how we are feeling. My wife is my go to person when it comes to my concerns and how I am feeling. She is a great listener, asks great questions, not afraid to call me out, and is wonderfully supportive. I completely trust her.
As much as I like and appreciate the suggestions from Medicare, there is one they left out that I find immensely helpful: Bible reading and prayer. This suggestion probably doesn’t surprise any readers, but it is important. I don’t want to be presumptuous, but for those who may be interested let me suggest a few selected passages you may find comforting, challenging, and encouraging during these stressful days: Psalm 13, 23, 27, 42, and 139; Matthew 6:25-34; John10:11-18; Romans 8:31-39; and Philippians 4:4-9.
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