Optimism for Boomers and Seniors During Coronavirus

As Bette Davis said:  “hang onto your hats, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Good morning all you Boomers and Seniors sitting here celebrating ‘hump-day’ and wondering where all this angst over the coronavirus is going to lead.  Who doesn’t have some kind of anxiety over what’s happening.  Anxiety is described as a mental health problem characterized by feelings of worry, abandonment, and fear any of which are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily life and activities.  The professionals say the symptoms of what we’re dealing with include stress that is out of proportion to the impact of the event, along with our inability to set aside worry and restlessness.  And the good news, these symptoms are normally self-diagnosed.  I believe that describes a good part of our world right now.  

You know me well-enough by now to realize I am all about health, wellness and most of all inspiration and positivity.  But I’m a realist and know these are truly troubling times and we need to do everything we can to maintain and overcome negative thoughts and the anxiety that goes along with them.  My BoomerGuy and I are trying to put more into each day to get through this.  Fortunately, we have each other to bounce things off of and are not trying to go this alone, which  I know many of you are.  While there is no quick fix to what’s going on around us, we want to make sure we’re not avoiding what’s going on within us.  I believe there are a number of things we can do to help us stay positive and begin to take some control back into our home and lives, which I can assure you will help all of us in the midst of this adversity.

At this moment, even though it may be difficult, it’s important that we stay positive for the well-being of our families, relationships, communities, and especially our own peace of mind.  But given all that has been going on over the past several months, how can we stay positive in a genuine way?

Before we get to the powerful tips, there are three fundamental aspects to embracing our destiny during this time.  As is often the case, my research on subjects such as this lead me to very insightful and influential people who contribute to the understanding so much better than I can articulate.  That is the case here through the very thoughtful advice by Mike Robbins from an article in 2008 during the pending economic crisis.  Thank you Mike for the first three paragraphs that follow and how appropriate they are even today.

Without trivializing the impact of the current state of our health conditions, it is possible for each of us to remain open, optimistic and positive in the face of all this turmoil and uncertainty.  We are not superhuman, but we are able to use this as a time of reflection, rejuvenation, and transformation for us and those around us.  So, let’s get at it.

BE HONEST.  It’s vitally important to be honest about how we feel while we’re facing challenges, obstacles or difficult circumstances.  I think the coronavirus and all that it represents certainly qualifies.  We feel anger because we feel powerless to do anything about it.  We get fearful that it may get worse and other people may perpetuate the issue in a way we can’t control.  And, we feel shame that maybe we did something wrong or could have avoided the situation altogether.  At times, I feel all of these emotions, but acknowledging them helps me overcome their negative impact.

BE CONCIOUS.   Pay attention to what you’re feeling, how you’re thinking, what you’re saying, and the actions you’re taking.  In the midst of stress and adversity we have a tendency to think, say, and do things that don’t actually make things better and in many cases make things worse.  We complain, we worry, we speak negatively about life, others, and ourselves, or we watch too much TV, we overeat, we drink too much, or we do various other things in an unconscious way that don’t serve us well.  So…the more conscious we can be about our feelings, thoughts, words, and actions—the more likely we are to stay positive and to move through this adversity in a way that we can actually learn and grow, not just survive.

BE GRATEFUL.  I have spoken to this issue a number of times in my previous blogs, and while it may seem counterintuitive to be grateful in the face of adversity, it is truly the most important time for us to focus on what we appreciate—about ourselves, others, and life in general.  I encourage you to stop for a moment and think about some of the things for which you are grateful.  The overwhelming adversity the world is going through right now should be your green light to acknowledge all the blessings we have—health, a place to live, people who love us, freedom and much more.  At any given time, we realize we’re stronger than we thought possible, and we have more support around us than we knew, or we’re able to learn some important lessons about ourselves and our life.  Talk about a time for introspection.  There is always a lot for us to be thankful for if we simply pay attention.  It’s impossible to feel victimized and grateful at the same time!  So guess which one I choose.

Be kind to yourself, your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and all others during this time.

St. Francis of Assisi 1226 AD so aptly stated: 

“start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible

and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

THE NEWS IN MODERATION.  We know we’re the most vulnerable, we know the number of cases increasing on a daily basis, and the terrible death rate that goes along with it.  I would certainly recommend tuning into your local broadcasts where they give you the demographics of your city and county, and perhaps a smattering of the national news to see what’s going on across the nation and internationally, but limit it.  There is nothing more anxiety ridden than watching and listening to a bunch of uninformed pundits spreading their opinions and fake news.  Stay away from it and LIMIT IT.  Rather, take up something less catastrophic such as a good novel, a love story on TV, a bunch of your favorite music CD’s, a course on learning, or God forbid, watching QVC and ordering several items you will never use.  Hah.  We’ve all done it.

  1. CONNECTIONS.  In my opinion, the single most important factor we can hold onto is reaching out to family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, with great frequency.  Everyone is going through the same sheltering and enduring the same agony over social and physical distancing, so don’t think you’re alone.  That is even more the reason for communicating with loved ones and others during this time.  I speak with my close family members at least three times a week; email and text so many others just to connect; and yes, I even send out “thinking of you” cards.  You would be amazed at the gratitude I get from taking this approach.  Be the leader, and don’t wait for them to contact you.
  2. OUTDOOR ACTIVITY is next on the list of most helpful.  Personally, I think people are using the sheltering and distancing mandates as reasons not to go out at all.  That is not what the healthcare professionals are saying…it’s vitally important to get out of the house and walk around the neighborhood, just to get some fresh air and a new perspective.  Where I live in California, the county now has a new requirement for wearing a face mask whenever you go out—even if it’s to walk around the block.  When I do see another person coming toward me, I simply move to the other side of the street to avoid contact.  Easy, wouldn’t you say.  
  3. PHYSICAL EXERCISE is a must.  Forget the aches and pains which are mostly due, by the way, to your inactivity.  If you can’t get outside due to inclement weather, then find a TV channel that features some form of cardio workout.  Go to your computer and you can find a plethora of “get up and move” videos.  If you dance, plug in that CD and move to the tunes, or go up and down the stairs slowly and carefully to get your body limber and strengthen your legs.  As I’ve mentioned, my BoomerGuy and I have been practicing tai chi for 5 minutes a session, which on the surface looks like an exercise made for weaklings.  OK.  It’s perfect for us because quite frankly we’re simply not as strong as we used to be.  Try it—you’ll love it.   But here’s the key—you need to do something every day, even if’s just for 10-20 minutes.  Once you do that, you will be up to 20-30 minutes and enjoying the fruits of your labor.  
  4. THE DIET!  Yeah, yeah you’ve heard it a thousand times, you have got to eat healthier.  Well you do.  If there is anything you can accomplish during our days of sequestration, it is to eliminate or greatly reduce the sugar intake and junk food snacking.  If you are willing to halt the stress eating, I can assure you the bad feelings of ‘stuffiness’ will leave and soon you will see a few pounds dropping off.  It’s all about self-esteem folks.  As Billy Crystal would say, “if we looks good, we feels good.” 
  5. RELAXATION TECHNIQUES are definitely in vogue during this crisis.  You can’t go anywhere on the internet without seeing self-help guides on deep breathing, meditation, yoga, rhythmic exercise, and here’s good ol’ tai chi again.  All or any of these will aid in helping to reduce your stress and anxiety.
  6. LIMIT YOUR COFFE INTAKE by reducing one cup a day.  That is, if you’re drinking 3 cups, take it down to 2, 2 cups down to one, but of course, if you’re drinking only one cup, I don’t want you giving it up entirely.  We all need our shot of java in the morning.  It’s the afternoon and evening shots that aren’t good for you.
  7. LIMIT YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE.  It’s one thing to pork up with overeating and stress eating, the last thing we want during our sheltering is to have a larger problem with too much alcohol.  I have a friend who talks about her grocery outings consisting of a little food and a lot of alcohol. That my friends, is the wrong prescription.  

As I recap this writing, I would like to say it might seem there is a negative undertone to all this, and you are probably correct.  Afterall we are dealing with a pandemic the likes of which we have never seen in our lives, and what could be more doom and gloom.  However, as I am so predisposed, the overwhelming overtone is one of optimism, positivity and not letting negative thinking pervade our lives.  

On behalf of your Number One BoomerGal, I would just like to say that we Boomers have always been over-achievers, and we’re not going to stop now.  Let’s bring control, whether large or small,  back into our lives and we will weather this storm as we have so many during our lives.   And whatever you do don’t give in to the vagaries of negative thinking, fear, pessimism, procrastination, and anxiety which will only serve to undermine our intelligence and efforts.  GO BE POSITIVE AND SURVIVE!

As I encourage you to follow our dedicated coronavirus blogs especially during this month of April, I also encourage you to drop us a note on email and let us know how we’re doing.  Thank you.  Your BoomerGal, Connie.

“Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.”

Victor Hugo

Editorial contribution by Mike Robbins, October 2008

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