As a Social Work Contractor in one of the largest cities in the world, and the epicenter of the COVID pandemic in the USA, the last few weeks have presented unique challenges. I am responsible for more than 30 clients, each with either multiple addictions or comorbid mental health disorders. On a daily basis, I am literally putting out fires. While most of my client’s income is secured (Social Security, pension, etc), a few are self-employed, and now find themselves without an income
The IC has lost their primary sources of income, and with unemployment, website not built for millions of claims, needless to say, the backlog of claims processing has left some in “humbling” circumstances. Over the past year, I have been trying to get my clients to create an emergency fund, regardless of how much money they bring in. While this is not in my job description, I have been there, unprepared for when a disaster hits. A disaster doesn’t necessarily mean a pandemic, but differs for each of us; job loss, divorce, accident etc. How would most of us survive? Do we have at least 3-6 months of expenses stashed away? For many, the answer is “No”.
Unless you are a seasoned doomsday prepper, the current pandemic affecting our society may have caught you by complete surprise! Although this crisis is certainly a tragedy and should be treated as such, it should serve as a wake-up call that you need to plan for similar incidents in the future. Unfortunately, we have seen a large number of the population react to the pandemic, in extreme ways, and in some instances, even harmful to other individuals. Purchasing items in excess, and flooding the supermarkets has become normal.
Because of this trend, individuals who may need these resources far more than most, or have trouble accessing them, are suffering the most. In this post, I will address some sensible strategies, which address the current climate, as well as ensuring a future crisis doesn’t leave you unprepared and feeling hopeless.
Quality Over Quantity When Shopping
While there are some items that are essential to buy in bulk, such as toilet paper and basic medication, others can be purchased in moderation and still leave you prepared. When stocking up on food items for an emergency, focus on buying items with a long shelf life, and provide a large number of calories. In regard to water, it is certainly wise to have a stockpile of bottled water or gallon containers. However, you may want to look into some form of water filtration system. These devices are readily available and essentially provide an endless supply of drinkable water should your stash run low.
Maintaining An Emergency Fund
This tip applies to everyday life; you should always have some sort of nest egg available for unplanned expenses, such as a medical emergency or vehicle trouble. In this case of a pandemic, having an emergency fund becomes even more crucial. Consider the millions of individuals currently out of work and not receiving a steady flow of income. Having currency allocated to a situation such as the current crisis is absolutely essential.
Consider A Second Job/Side Hustle
Having worked with the homeless and formerly homeless for more than five years, I know the majority of us are one paycheck away from homelessness. No one anticipates losing their home, but it happens more often than you know! Do you have extra hours to earn a side income? What are your talents? Can you get paid to do something you love? You can use the extra money to build your emergency fund, pay off debt, go on a well-deserved vacation, invest, or save! A reputable site I have used and recommend, especially if you live in the US is Rat Race Rebellion. Currently, the US has more than 330 million people, by next month, experts estimate more than 20% of people will be unemployed-this should sober you up.
Establishing A Plan
Establishing a well-organized plan for you and your family is not something to do, in the middle of an emergency. Although it can seem quite excessive in the flow of everyday normal life, it is important you plan and discuss with your family exactly what to do, before the emergency happens. Be sure to cover the basics; where you will go, resources available, and what each person’s role will be.
Most of us take for granted the ability to maintain communication with friends and family. We assume our smartphones, computers, and televisions will always available. However, during emergency situations, where electricity and wireless connectivity are eliminated, it is important to have a plan, for maintaining the use of these devices. Consider investing in essentials like solar-powered chargers, a generator, and rechargeable batteries.
Basic Emergency Skills
An important thing to consider when preparing for a crisis is how to minimize the damage. A gas leak or electrical issue in your household can quickly become life-threatening during a natural disaster. Do you know how to shut off certain appliances and valves around the house? Furthermore, the ability to help someone in danger using basic CPR skills can be invaluable. Once again, these things are easy to disregard in everyday life but can become critically important very quickly.
It is a known fact that human beings do not think clearly in a panicked state. We see examples of this behavior in every crisis situation. When disaster strikes, being prepared is the best way to avoid panic. If you and your family have already discussed a well-established plan, you can eliminate rash decisions that can take a long time to rectify. It is a stressful time for many. If you have not done so yet, check out my last post for timely Resources to combat anxiety. While these suggestions are not exhaustive, they will guide your efforts to be better prepared.
Until next week,
How are you keeping during these turbulent times?! Parents with children being homeschooled, it’s even more difficult to balance work and home life. My followers diagnosed with PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, etc, have you found it even more difficult to combat the triggers of your mental illness? Many of you are divorced, separated, with no children at home, how do you spend your time? There are so many questions!
Yes, these are very uncertain times. Uncertainty rules the day, and the unknown is more distressing than anything else. Two months ago, our lives changed, dramatically. I live in NYC, the epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States. I was stunned by the level of death and destruction around me. After experiencing multiple symptoms for almost a month, I was finally able to get tested. Negative! I am fortunate, I know, and I hope the result is true. I was told to “power through my symptoms” some of which still persist today.
Three of my clients were directly impacted by COVID; one lost a mother, another a cousin, and the other was hospitalized for several days. I currently work at home, so for the past month, I have been putting out several fires, which is mostly the reason for my absence here. NYC is made up of strong, tough people. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Sandy, multiple airplane crashes, etc has not weakened the resolve to keep fighting. I expect us all to come through on the other side. Hundreds continue to die every day, but, the situation has stabilized; field hospitals being taken down, the NAVY Comfort has left, hospitalization rates have decreased, and we are finally “flattening the curve”.
Six out of seven continents have been affected by COVID-19. Besides the normal day to day hustle, and immense stress of daily living, we now have a pandemic to contend with. Today’s post will hopefully provide support on the panic affecting so many. Anxiety is not necessarily a new phenomenon, however, with all that is happening, it will only exacerbate the issue. We are so connected through the internet, social media, and other outlets, not only are we exposed to the issues in our immediate communities but across the entire globe. Furthermore, with so many working from home, or in some cases, those working on the frontlines, we are expected to juggle growing responsibilities simultaneously and remain productive. Anxiety varies in intensity and frequency, please use the following suggestions, and resources to improve your overall quality of life.
Live In The Moment
The only point in time in which you will EVER exist is right now. Ironically, most of us dedicate the bulk of our mental energy to the past or future. Anxiety often tricks us into replaying past mistakes in our heads over and over and worry about things that have not happened yet. A big part of dealing with anxiety is to live in the moment. This means focusing all of your physical and mental energy on what is going on right now. Not only does this simplify life, but it also allows you to get the most out of your limited time. Trying to deal with your entire past and future on a constant basis makes it virtually impossible to appreciate what is right in front of you. Over the years, Mindfulness and Meditation have helped to turn things around for me and completely changed my life. First I had to know who I am. Pick up a copy of this book Discover My Life’s Purpose. Doing so helped me to remain focused on the present moment. I was no longer worried about where I stood in comparison to others. My path was my own, and it did not matter if others agreed. they don’t have to! Learn how to. You too can learn how to Enhance Your Life With Mindfulness.
Control What You Can Control
The truth is, many of the issues causing anxiety in your life are beyond your control. This includes global and community issues, as well as problems in your personal life. What you need to realize is that the weight of the world is NOT on your shoulders, even though it can certainly so at times. Anxiety tells you to worry about solving problems that are out of your hands. In reality, focusing on the issues that you actually have the ability to resolve is a much healthier response. Awareness is the key to conquering fear created by the ego, which leads to anxiety. Once you’re aware of how your ego is creating fear and anxiety, then you can observe it, and learn to shape it. You have the power to stop the fear in your mind. It’s important to remember that all the negative scenarios in your head don’t have to happen in real life. They can stay as imaginary issues. They may never materialize or cause you heartache. You can control how you respond to challenges.
Yes, we are tired of Netflix and Chill, homeschooling, puzzles, and games, but there is so much more you can do, being stuck indoors. Learn how to create a family website, make a family movie, coding, create a film festival, go on a virtual field trip, etc. Take a look at this invaluable list I put together, with direct resource links in Ultimate Guide To Indoor Fun
It’s Okay To Not Feel Okay
Another side effect of anxiety is a feeling of isolation and loneliness. People experiencing anxiety on a routine basis, often believe they are the only ones dealing with the issue. Everyone else is much happier, and no one will accept us if they knew the extent of our anxiety. It is so important to realize, this is far from the truth. Everyone around you is experiencing some degree of anxiety and fear of the future. You are far from alone. Don’t feel like you have to go through life acting as if everything is okay when it isn’t. Recognize the feelings, accept them, embrace, and challenge them. Maya Angelou said ” We are more alike, than we are different”
Get Help If You Need It
Finally, if your anxiety is something you are having trouble dealing with on your own, then don’t! There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional help. Ironically, our society welcomes getting help for even minor ailments but shuns the same approach for serious mental issues. Consider this, if you had Pneumonia or another physical illness, you would seek the appropriate doctor for care. Why would you not do the same, if you are suffering from mental health issues, such as anxiety? There is help out there, get it if you need it! I have been blown away by the more than 100k medical and mental health professionals, who came to the aid of New Yorkers!
We can and will get through this. We are better together.
Until Next Week,
Most of us can agree positive thinking is important. It tends to make us feel better, be more productive and reduces stress. The problem is, our lives aren’t always rosy. Crises happen – be it on a personal level or something more widespread. That reality is a part of everyone’s life, and it makes keeping your spirits up tough.
If you are struggling to stay positive and hopeful when going through these or any other tough times, try these tips:
Don’t Put Your Head in the Sand
No matter what you are dealing with, ignoring it is rarely the answer. While ignoring problems might feel good in the short-term, it will sap your long-term positivity. Plus, many of the other tips listed here require you to acknowledge your circumstances first.
This Too Shall Pass
When you are in the midst of a crisis, it is nearly impossible to keep things in perspective. That said, you need to recognize your circumstances are temporary. Things might seem dire at the moment, but try your best to remember that “this too shall pass.”
Make a Plan
One of the single best things you can do to maintain positivity during tough times is to make a plan on how to deal with it. When you focus on the solution rather than the problem, you will naturally feel more positive. You will feel like you are rising to the challenge.
What are You Grateful For?
Even during great personal turmoil, there is always something to be grateful for. When things get tough, it is vital to remember there is good in the world, and more importantly, in your life. When you are struggling, take some time to list the things you have going for you!
Reach Out for Support
Support in and support out! Reach out to loved ones and offer your support. Reach out if you need assistance too. When things are dire, it is always reaffirming when people pull together and help each other.
Take a Break
Sometimes our circumstances are so dire that we are forced to think about our problems constantly. It is OK to take a break. You can take a break from the news, social media, or other people. It might not be easy but taking a break from external stimuli can help keep you positive.
Journal Your Feelings
Journaling is a powerful tool in so many ways. By simply giving you a place to express your fears and concerns, a journal helps you maintain positivity outside of its pages. Do you know how good it feels to vent to a friend? Well, consider your journal as your best friend.
Focus on Things You Can Control
When your world seems like it is spinning out of control, you may feel helpless. One way to address this and stay more positive is to focus on the things you can control. Do what you can with what you have.
Distractions are usually the worst. We are often trying to learn how to avoid or deal with them. They aren’t that bad when you are struggling to stay positive in tough times, though. No matter how silly they seem, you should embrace distractions that bring you joy in tumultuous times.
Write down your feelings. Think about everything you are dealing with and how it’s affecting you and write that down. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling; just focus on getting your feelings out of your head and onto paper.
Reach out. Whether you are reaching out to offer support or request it, reaching out will help you feel like part of a community. When we all work together, we can overcome anything.
Make a plan. Think about what your biggest struggle is right now and devise a plan to tackle it. Set some goals and deadlines. You will feel more positive by just having the plan, and even more positive if you act on it.
Until the next post,
Between hotel rooms, fast food stops, and unfamiliar restaurants, how do you eat healthy while you’re on a road trip or abroad? It’s not always easy, but sticking to a healthy diet is very possible. I travel at least twice per year, to multiple countries during the same trip. The temptation to every devour local dish in each country is overpowering. Often, I returned home at least ten pounds heavier, that is, until I became more disciplined. Discover how you can maintain your diet and your travel plans at the same time, with the following healthy eating tips.
1. Plan ahead. The sooner you start planning, the easier it will be to stay on your diet. Where are you going? How will you get there? What will your schedule be like? Once you’ve narrowed down the schedule for your trip, you can begin to plan for healthy food options. Do some online research for the locale you’ll be visiting. Where are the nearest grocery stores? Do you see healthy cafes or restaurants? What about nearby farmer’s markets? Find safe and healthy locations that offer food choices to fit your lifestyle, goes a long way in maintaining your diet.
2. Select grocery stores over fast-food chains. Instead of stopping at a fast-food chain and trying to decide how many calories are in the fries or burgers, try a grocery store instead. Grocery stores are more likely to have delis that offer healthier options, such as packaged salads, bags of nuts, trail mix, healthy dips, and other choices. You can usually find cut up fruit and vegetables in plastic containers for sale. You may also want to reach for the yogurts, cheese, and smaller containers of milk. Dairy has protein in it, so you’ll feel fuller for a longer period of time. You can find a variety of dairy products in small or travel sizes.
3. Bring your own snacks. If you’re going on a road trip, you can pack a cooler with ice and bring healthy meats, vegetables, fruits, bread, and other snacks. If a cooler is not an option, then consider shelf-stable foods that can fit in a bag or purse. Can you find healthy nuts, crackers, or trail mix to fit your diet? What about dried fruits and vegetables? Having your own snacks on a transatlantic flight always saves the day!
4. Stay hydrated. Especially when you travel. Dehydration can sometimes lead to overeating because your body becomes confused. Bring at least one water bottle with you, or purchase them along the way. Water helps avoid dehydration and cravings for other foods.
5. Avoid simple carbohydrates. You may crave comfort food as you travel, but it’s not always a healthy option. Simple carbohydrates can raise blood sugar and cause it to later crash dramatically. This can leave you irritated and tired. Instead of simple carbohydrates, reach for multi-grain, complex carbohydrates. Add protein such as peanut butter and nuts. You can purchase travel-size containers of peanut butter. Also, eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day helps avoid cravings. Try to schedule your stops and get food at the same time.
Being on the road doesn’t mean you have to give up eating healthy. You can still maintain your healthy diet by planning ahead and following these guidelines.
Until the next post,
If you are reading this, chances are you have decided to make a change in your eating habits. Too often, we get so caught up in the fray of everyday life, we fail to realize just how poorly our choice of food becomes! No matter what your job, hobbies or goals may be, the choices you make when it comes to fueling your body, are the absolute foundation for performance. Frequent stops at the drive-thru on your way home, and microwaved “meals” only lead to decreased performance in everything you do, as well as the overall quality of life. Diets come and go every single day, this post will not focus on naming specific diets to avoid. Instead, we will look at the four key characteristics of any diet you may consider starting and allow you to steer clear!
Extreme Caloric Restriction
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of fad diets make is encouraging people to drastically reduce their caloric intake from day one. For example, the standard diet usually consists of around 2,000 calories. If any diet instructs you to only consume, let’s say, 1,200 calories from the very beginning, forget about it! This is a fallacy for a couple of reasons; the most important aspect of any diet is consistency. If you fall off the wagon after a week or so, every eating plan ever created is going to fail. Do you want to know a great way to avoid sticking to a diet? Being miserable will get you there QUICK!
Another reason this type of diet is a no-no is the bodily response to acute caloric restriction. Sure, reducing your caloric intake equals weight loss. However, this should be done gradually. Ironically, when you instantly begin eating far fewer calories than the body is used to, you actually signal a sort of starvation response. Your body is hardwired for survival, and instead of shedding excess bodyweight; it will do everything it can to spare it. The end result: being hungry all the time and still not losing weight.
Completely Eliminating A Macronutrient
In case you are not aware, carbs, protein, and fat are the three key macronutrients. Your body needs each of these to repair and carry out vital functions. While it is true that consuming a proper ratio of these nutrients is beneficial, eliminating any of them entirely is a mistake. Many diets you are sure to come across will advocate the miracle of abstaining from a certain macronutrient for a lengthy period of time. Simply put, don’t buy into it!
Weekly Or Daily “Cheating”
Remember, consistency is very important when sticking to any diet. A healthy relationship with food needs to be a lifestyle, not a 6-week crash course. If you notice, a lot of diets basically have you starving yourself or eating things you hate all week before “allowing” you to have a cheat meal or day on the weekend. Essentially, you deprive yourself of enjoying food for days on end, and the gorge on an unhealthy feast of your choice for one day. Make no mistake; one day of stuffing your face with junk food CAN undo an entire week of healthy eating. Your body doesn’t just reset its caloric calculator every morning; there is no “cycle”. Furthermore, this way of eating significantly increases your chances are developing an eating disorder.
Let’s keep this one simple. If a particular diet sounds absolutely ridiculous, it is. The things you can find out there can get crazy. For example, consuming every single meal in liquid form, weightloss earrings, only eating celery sticks and quinoa for two weeks, is not going to magically chisel out your beach body. Use your own discretion here. You are not a lab rat taking part in a clinical trial. Any diet you decide to adhere to needs to at least appear reasonable from the get-go!
No one can tell you which diet to try or ignore, this is a very personal decision. You should, however, use information readily available to help you make an informed decision. Beware of advertisements that create an urgency to “buy now”, or use celebrities’ pictures and names they are not familiar with, etc. Interestingly enough, recent reports by the Federal Trade Commission reports at least 6.5 million people to fall victim to weightloss scams every year. Don’t be a statistic. Consult a Doctor or Nutritionist, for the best ways to lose weight for YOU.
For my final diet/weightloss post of the month, I will have at least two free products and reports for everyone!
Until the next post,
Now that we have a working knowledge about SMART goals, it’s time to focus on the baby steps to meeting your goals. Some people lose weight through intermittent fasting and adopting new diets. Others try to make such major changes, but they start missing their afternoon candy bar or go-to snacks. Pretty soon, they revert to old habits and wind up gaining back the pounds they lost and more.
If you’re tired of watching your weight fluctuate, you may need a more gradual approach. Little changes add up, until you see a big difference on your bathroom scale. In fact, minor adjustments are often more sustainable because they suit your lifestyle. See how easy it can be to slim down, starting with these simple things to incorporate into your diet and workouts.
Eat healthier one small step at a time. You can shed weight without disrupting your life or feeling deprived.
Until the next post,
My first post of the decade Promises, Promises examined the goals we set each year, but sometimes never accomplish. By the time February rolls around, some goals are already a distant memory. My intent over the next several months is to provide additional support and resources, to help your goal setting journey. It’s never too late to start over. Let’s begin goal setting!
Too many people resolve to lose weight, but never actually have a plan in place. Therefore, year after year, they make the same New Year’s resolution, because their goal was never achieved. Has this happened to you? How can you change this relentless pattern? It might come as no surprise you are frustrated because you never seem to get it right. Not from a lack of trying either. Creating and following a goal-setting system, is crucial to success.
It’s important when setting goals to follow the S.M.A.R.T. goal system. This system will help you accomplish what you set out to do in a timely fashion.
⦁ Specific. Be explicit in what you want. Write down a specific number of pounds that you would like to lose.
⦁ Measurable. Weigh yourself every week and take note of your weight change, either up or down. Keep track of this in a journal.
⦁ Attainable. Small goals that lead up to a larger goal are often easier to reach. The success of reaching these small goals will keep you motivated.
⦁ Realistic. Understand what your body is capable of doing and set your goals accordingly.
⦁ Timely. Keep your goal in focus by setting a completion date.
Consider the following weight loss tips, if this is one of your resolutions:
1. Have a plan of action. How much weight do you want to lose? Break your total down into a series of smaller attainable goals. For example, plan to lose _ pounds by _ (date). Make these goals realistic, and then follow a plan of diet and exercise to achieve them.
⦁ Your plan may require changes in your lifestyle. Work these changes into your daily routines one-by-one to attain your goals.
⦁ Write your goals down in a journal, and review them every day.
2. Change your diet. Figure out how many calories you’ve been consuming each day. If it’s over the recommended daily allowance, gradually decrease the number of calories instead of immediately dropping to the desired number. Eventually, you’ll reach your goal without being severely deprived.
⦁ Reducing your daily calorie intake will require healthy eating choices. Consult your physician for recommended nutritional guides, and choose the one that works best for you.
⦁ There are online programs and apps (my fitness pal, better me etc) which calculate your calorie and fat intake. All you do is write in your food choices. Use whatever tools you need to simplify your tasks, and stay motivated to reach your goals.
3. Get off the Couch. Set a reasonable exercise schedule to help you with your weight loss goal. Design your exercise regimen to target the areas that need the most toning (i.e. thighs, abs, arms, buttocks, etc.).
⦁ Keep your exercise goals realistic. Start small, and then increase your regimen. For example, running 5 miles every day will burn off a lot of calories, but it may not be feasible. First try walking to build up some stamina and then add running, little by little.
⦁ Setting goals that are too far from your normal activities, will quickly wear you out and discourage you. Start small and build on each success. Increase your exercise time (or treadmill speed, or incline, etc.) by a small increment each week.
⦁ Exercising a little bit each day will increase energy, and help you become healthier. You don’t need a gym membership or expensive exercise equipment either. Walk or run around your neighborhood, or use canned foods instead of weights. You can even borrow exercise DVDs from the library.
4. Make friends. The people who are usually the most successful in losing weight and keeping it off, are the ones who have a great support system. Nothing deters you, like knowing you’re accountable to others for every bite.
⦁ Your support team will encourage, serve as workout partners,, and bring inspire confidence in tough times.
⦁ Some people find it helpful to join a local weight loss support, or online weight loss group. Celebrating your weight loss successes with others will make them that much more meaningful. There is strength in numbers.
Losing weight is possible for anyone who approaches the challenge wisely. With some careful planning and determination, your weight loss goal can certainly become a reality in this Year. As with every article about diet and exercise, always consult your healthcare professional.
Until the next post,