Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Take a Break: Celebrate St. Pat's with Riverdance!

It's definitely a stressful time dealing with Covid-19 so take a break this St. Patrick's Day and watch Riverdance.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Take a Break: Celebrate Carnival

There is no place like Rio for Carnival! The floats, samba, songs, music and more Wow!

Just as New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras, Brazil has earned the distinction of being “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The Rio Carnival runs the Friday through Tuesday, before Ash Wednesday, the day went Lent begins for Catholics.

The Samba Schools are at the heart of the parades. These started from street bands and eventually became groups and clubs and today have close associations with their host communities.


Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Life with Chronic Conditions: How to Ask for Help

After a fire, with our home and life in shambles, I had no hesitancy to ask for help. However, my husband, who has the old Yankee mentality of “self-reliance,” was dead set against it.

Fortunately, we have a great community and good friends, who showed up and just started pitching in. Several days later, my husband mused, “You know all those extra brain cells we are supposed to get? I think they are really your friends who come and have different ideas about how to do something. A lot of times their ideas are much better than your own.”

The months of fire recovery taught me the critical importance of asking for help when needed and to be there for others when they are in need. The bonding that happened with friends and neighbors is something I’ll treasure forever. It also gave me a boost in believing in the goodness of people.

As far as my husband, he’s improved a bit on this score, but he still doesn’t like to ask for directions. 

In her book, MayDay! Asking for Help in Times of Need, M. Nora Klaver notes Most people have never been taught how to ask properly. So we do it badly, sometimes using guilt, coercion and blackmail. We solicit pity when we want assistance, or we ask the wrong person. We might have felt humiliated doing it in the past, so we fear doing it in the future.”
Other reasons we don’t ask for help include:
 • Don’t want to appear needy, dependent, weak, or incompetent
• Fear of rejection or losing control
• Don’t want to put others out
• Feeling ashamed
• Don’t want to face the fact that help is needed
• Concerned about the potential energy drain when others are involved
• Don’t know how to ask for help

Not asking when you need help deprives you of assistance but it also doesn’t allow someone the opportunity to be useful. People like to be needed and want to help.

 As Klaver suggests, We can view the intimidating act of asking for help as a gesture of hope and optimism and not one of despair and misery…Calling "Mayday" deepens connections; reduces stress and restores energy; reminds us that we are not alone; gives happiness to others; leads to personal growth; allows the pleasure of surrender; demonstrates that we're worthy of support; lets others shine; clarifies relationships and solves problems. So what's to resist?

Consider the following when asking for help:
Make a list of  people that you know that could be helpful. Consider people who are friends, family, neighbors, community members, support group members, co-workers, medical providers, school groups, and those you think may have specific knowledge that you may not have. For example, if you need home repairs that you can’t afford, your local community action agency may be the place to call. Keep in mind that people who are active in the community, and you know have helped others, are often good resources for what’s available locally. Don’t hesitate to contact them.

• If you have multiple needs, ask someone you trust if they can help organize help. The free website Lotsa Helping Hands is a great way to coordinate such things as rides, dinners, getting kids to school, yard chores etc. I’ve used this site a lot to help families and I find it’s much easier to have a friend or family member be the lead administrator, with the person in need being a co-administrator. One frustration I’ve found is the person in need will say no to a website like Lotsa Helping Hands, which is unfortunate. Other strategies like group e-mails and texts, while certainly easier than a lot of phone calls, takes more time then using an online community care site.

Use friends and family to help you identify and quantify your needs. Make a list.

Match need with strengths. If you have a friend that’s great with paperwork, see if they are willing to help out by handling this once a month.

• Remember you have to ask for help. People can’t read your minds and many are so busy with their own lives, they may not recognize that you need help. And if they do recognize your need, they may be unsure of what is the best way to support you.

If you want a yes, do it in person.  If you can’t get “facetime,” make a phone call. In today’s world, people have specific ways they like to be contacted. Be aware of that and approach them accordingly. Avoid disclaimers, apologies and bribes. Expressions like “I really hate bothering you” makes it an uncomfortable situation for the person.

Watch Heidi Grant’s TED Talk: How to Ask for Help and Get a Yes for more tips.

• Be specific. Provide date and time, where you are going, how long you need to be there etc. The more relevant information you can provide, the easier it is for people to see if they can help you.

• Listen. Pay attention to their response.

•  If you are asking people to drive you, pick up groceries, or some other service that needs to be paid for, having cash on hand will help offset these expenses.

Apply the “three thanks” rule: say thank when they agree to help, when they’ve helped you and at a later date. Sending personal notes, arranging a thank-you lunch are all very nice touches that people appreciate. The more you let them know how their assistance helped you, the better they will feel about helping again.

Other Resources to Check Out

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Life with Chronic Conditions: Covid-10 Prepare Don’t Panic

This past week, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have advised that American should prepare, not panic, for the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). In such an event, people should be prepared for the possibility of disruptions to their daily lives which could include closing schools, working from home and delaying elective medical procedures.

With each passing day, more concerns are raised as there are now cases of “community-acquired” Covid-19, meaning they had no known risk factors.

Those affected by chronic and/or life threatening conditions are among the groups most at risk. In view of that, below are measures that can be taken to both reduce risk as well as be prepared in the event you need to quarantine in place

Talk to your employer about working at home.

Have sufficient quantities of the following for two weeks:
• food
• prescription medications, oxygen, over the counter medications and other medical supplies
• incidentals such as toothpaste, toilet paper
• a plan in place for someone who might become ill
• activities to stay occupied, particularly for children

Prevention measures to stop the spread: Because COVID-19 spreads similarly to flu and colds, the biggest risk is contact with someone who is infected. Think Cover & Wash.
• Cover your cough with your arm or tissue not your hand

• Wash your hands throughout the day with soap & water, using hand sanitizer when that’s not available. Hand washing done correctly is one of the best 20 second prevention tools and is the cornerstone of all infection prevention programs. Proper hand washing includes using soap (either bar or liquid), rubbing the backs of hands, between your fingers and under your nails and 20 seconds. To learn the proper way to wash your hands, watch the video below.

 • Stay at home if you are sick. Keep your child out of school if they are sick

• Avoid people who are sick and avoid touching your face

• Skip events that put you in contact with a large group of people. Consider postponing travel.

• Engage in general health behaviors by; Eating healthy, exercising, managing stress, getting adequate sleep and keeping all medical appointments.

• Check to see if you can receive medical care through a telehealth system

Know the Symptoms: If you develop symptoms, contact your medical provider for further instructions. COVID-19 symptoms  are similar to those of the flu:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea
  • Aches and pains
  • Complications like pneumonia

Have a Plan: If you should get sick, be it flu or something else, you should have plan in place with family and caregivers so that they know your current health situation, who your medical provider(s) is and any particular wishes you have about your care and treatment.

Monitor Your Local News for Relevant Information: Don’t be obsessed, but stay informed about what is happening in your area regarding Covid-19 and follow instructions provided by your health department.
If you are concerned: Discuss your concerns with your medical provider

Additional Resources

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Take a Break: Engage with a cloud

It’s not quite March, but the winds are picking up-remember the adage March comes in like a lion but out like a lamb-which creates some wonderful cloud formations.

Take a break and enjoy the clouds. While it’s great to be outside sitting on a park bench enjoying them, that may not be possible. Find a place in your house where you can be comfortable and watch the clouds. Take some pictures of your favorite clouds. Do any of them remind you of someone? If so send it to them.

Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Life with Chronic Conditions: Soap, Water & Hand Washing

With the intense media coverage regarding the coronavirus, one of the primary ways to reduce its spread (plus cold and flu) is proper hand washing with soap and water.

Since we’ve all been washing our hands since before we can remember, you’d think we’d have it down pat. Unfortunately, not so much. Most people do not practice good hand hygiene. This not only refers to when hands are washed, but how and with what type of soap.

You go to wash your hands and you find a choice of bar soap, liquid bottled soap and a third option anti-bacterial soap? Which do you choose? Why?

If you are like many people, who have been influenced by marketing strategies, you may think the liquid or anti-bacterial soap may be best. As it turns out, unless you work in a health care setting, don’t use antibacterial products because their use can contribute to the rise of antibiotic-resistant super bugs. 6 Reasons Why You Should Stop Using Antibacterial Soap 

Before answering the question, which cleans better liquid or bar soap, let’s back track to how soap and water clean hands.

Basically the water, which can be any temperature, will get rid of a fair amount of gunk on your hands by physically rinsing it away. Soap removes the oily stuff that water can’t, as it bonds to both water and skin oils, leaving you with clean skin provided you wash appropriately and for a sufficient amount of time (20 secs). More to follow on proper hand washing and drying.

Liquid or Bar: Which is better?
If a bar of soap is sitting in water it can look pretty disgusting. However, the research indicates that both bar soap and liquid do the same job of getting rid of the bad bacteria, even if that bar of soap looks disgusting.

In spite of mass marketing campaigns to promote liquid soaps over bar, there is a growing trend “back to the bar.” With both being equally effective as far as removing harmful bacteria, liquid has a negative impact on the environment due to production and how it’s packaged, plus it costs considerably more.

When should you wash your hands?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you should wash your hands
• Before, during, and after preparing food
• Before eating food
• Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
• Before and after treating a cut or wound
• After using the toilet
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
• After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
• After handling pet food or pet treats
• After touching garbage

How to Wash Your Hands
The CDC recommends the following 5 steps
1.    Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
2.    Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
3.    Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
4.    Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
5.    Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

When and How to Use Hand Sanitizer
Soap and water are best, but when not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Note that sanitizers don’t get rid of all types of germs and are not effective with visible dirt and grime. They also don’t remove harmful chemicals such as pesticides and heavy metals.

• Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
• Rub your hands together.
• Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. 
• This should take around 20 seconds.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Take a Break: Make a shirt folding board

Blame it on another Vermont snowstorm, but it's time to try to create a DIY of an “As seen on TV" product. 

 Yes, you can make a shirt folding board for free using cardboard and duct tape. It’s an easy DIY project and it may even inspire you, or other members of your household, to fold laundry

Below is a helpful video, but if you prefer, these are good written directions (lots of pictures).

There are very quick ways to fold T shirts, that don’t require a device, so you may this find video useful.

And if you are a Marie Kondo fan, check out her basic clothes folding methods. Her approach may be the best for space saving and for easy access when stored. 

Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.