Mental health is a huge concern in our country, and around the world, as our way of life has been altered for the past many months. The fear of COVID and the resulting conditions that were manifested in social distancing, forced isolation, masking, (with some countries even closing down playgrounds and parks) have taken a toll on our concept of what every day should look like and has now become a political hot potato.
Health experts have told me for years — and warned me against, and gave me advice for — stress-related lifestyles that would contribute to a plethora of health conditions. Most of us realize as we age that taking care of the things we can control and letting go of the things we can’t becomes more than just wise advice; it’s critical for our health and well-being. But, the last many months has made the advice really hard to follow, and the more we were determined to just get on with life, the more it seemed as though that would become impossible.
Well, things seem to be shaping up for the positive around our country as more and more people are doing what they can to revive some sense of normalcy. But something still lurks in the air as people do their best to figure out what normal even looks like anymore. So, the stress tends to get to each of us in a myriad of ways. Fear of the unknown is likely the most pressing trigger point for many people and families as the new reality of our cultural norms unfold.
Suddenly we are inextricably tied together in a frenzy of tumult and turmoil over how much we care about others as expressed in our willingness to submit to increasingly invasive governmental measures, regulations, and mandates.The people I learned about in the 60’s and 70’s who were asking everyone around them to question everything are now in charge and telling everyone to just do what they are told. It’s a crazy turnabout likely brought on by a weird mixture of concern and conceit. Gone are the youthful days of carefree rebellion to authority figures facing the realities of what they have wrought.
Thank goodness we have Amendments to our Constitution (many countries don’t) and a spirit of freedom that is deeply held in our civic DNA. Stress from fear of the unknown is one thing, but getting worked up about the direction our government is leading us isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. So, get out (while you can), get some exercise, live joyfully, spend generously, help others, enjoy family — because winter is coming.
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What did we learn this summer and fall? We learned that people who’d been cooped up, thanks to COVID-19, flocked to our national parks and forests. Once there, many were eager to empty their bucket…