Is it time to get back to “normal” ?

I know so many people are itching to get back out there, to get back to pre COVID-19 “normal.” But the truth is we are far from that possibility. At some point we will all, personally, be touched by this virus. 

Today, July 2, 2020 there have been 516,000 deaths reported worldwide from COVID-19.

FWIW I think in the end we will find that this is a significant underrepresentation of the numbers as it now appears that this virus was circulating for months before we caught wind of it. I bet anything that thousands of people in the US, or even tens of thousands who were thought to have died from pneumonia or stroke actually died of COVID-19 related pneumonia or stroke.

But let’s stick with reported numbers for now. In the US alone today total confirmed cases in the country have reached more than 2.7 million, with more than 130,000 deaths. 

And it’s not just old people or those with chronic illnesses who are falling prey to this virus.

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Aaaaaand, about that virus (COVID19)

(MARCH 2, 2020 COVID-19)

I drafted this post a few days ago and started this section with “Well, it looks pretty clear that we are going to be dealing wtih COVID-19 on our home turf in a hot second.”

Apparently I was correct. I’m in the Pacific Northwest and we have 3 cases in Oregon, close to where I live, and at least 18 in Washington where 5 people have died. There have likely been many more exposures and we are going to have many more cases.

My advice as of a few days ago? Don’t panic.​

That is still my advice.

It is starting to look like there are many infections that are pretty mild, or even asymptomatic. We know this now because there is mass testing being done in a few places (that’s not likely to happen here, FWIW.)

But just because you don’t panic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware and be prepared. This isn’t just for yourself. Planning ahead helps “put slack in the system” (here is a great twitter thread on what that means and why you should do it). I’m an ‘err on the side of caution’ person by my nature. So given that, here is what I am telling my clients and patients who ask:

  1. Y’all, throw your tissues in the garbage…

    If you’re sick, stay home. If your kids are sick, keep them home. Staying home if you’re sick, and maybe in the face of a widespread outbreak even if you’re not sick but have the ability to do so, will ‘flatten the curve’ allowing a lighter burden on the entire medical system. Here is an article on the Scientific American blog that explains this very well. Please give it a read.

  2. Keep your immune system in tip top shape. This means take your vitamin D. Rest. Get plenty of sleep. Drink water. Get outside. Don’t panic.
  3. Get a backup supply of your medications. Some sources are saying a week’s worth, I’m saying a month or two, just in case. If you have any history of asthma be sure your meds are up to date. Check the label!
  4. Pick up food that can last a few weeks to a month in case you decide to hunker in place, or simply not put more of a burden on the system if there is any kind of outbreak in your area. See #1.
  5. Reconsider travel. Trust me, this one pains me. I’m not excessively worried about planes per se, but if it would be a problem for you if you get stuck somewhere (logistically or financially) you might want to take that into consideration.
  6. Wash your damn hands. 20 seconds. With soap. All surfaces. Before and after you prepare food. After you’ve handled things that a lot have people have also handled (as in after you go food shopping). After you use the bathroom. And while you’re at it, go ahead and keep this up fo-evah. Please.
  7. Cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm or into a tissue (which you can then put in a plastic bag and dispose of when you get to a garbage). If you are sick wear a mask to keep others from breathing in your respiratory droplets (at this time masks are not recommended if you are not sick as their main purpose is to keep you from getting other people ill.)
  8. Talk to your boss. Ask what the company plan is if you are not able to be at work because you are sick, or for parents, if schools are closed.
  9. Don’t panic. For reals. It appears that most people will have a mild version of this virus. But it’s up to all of us to help protect the most vulnerable among us from COVID-19. Let’s do what we can.

If you have specific questions about what might help you bolster your immune system, or want assistance working up a personalized plan for supporting your immune system, feel free to schedule a visit at the office or online. I’m here.

Yours in Health,

 

 

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Coffee Alternatives: Why You Might Want to Try Them and What to Try!

I don’t drink coffee. And not because I don’t like it. I LOVE it. And not because it isn’t healthy, it is.

The sad state of affairs is that when I drink coffee I get reflux and nausea. Every. Dang. Time. But more than that…it also makes me more anxious.

This is something I see commonly with my patients and clients. Yes, even with “just” one cup in the morning. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not vilifying your coffee. There are many benefits (I’ll get into that in another post). But if you have anxiety, headaches, reflux, fatigue, or high blood pressure it might be worth seeing what life is like sans coffee. After all, you can’t make an educated decision if you don’t know how you feel without it. 

Here are some of the reasons that people tell me they drink coffee (and my typical counterargument for those who may do better without it.)

OK I had to put this in here. WHY WOULD ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND DO THIS?!

  • It’s delicious. (So are sour gummy bears, I don’t have those every morning.)
  • Without it they feel tired. (You don’t have a caffeine deficiency, something is making you tired and you should address that.)
  • It gives them an extra edge/they get more done. (So would cocaine. Seriously though…it’s a very health form of speed but it is exactly that if you are using it for this reason. Is that ok with you? If so…good! If not, let’s look at why and what else can give more of an edge.)
  • If they don’t drink it they get headaches. (Um, this means they’re addicted. Cutting down slowly will prevent this.)
  • The term “coffee alternatives” makes them cringe.
  • It’s a habit. (Is it a habit that is harmful to you? If so, there are lots of ways to break habits!)
  • They need it to poop! (Sure, yes. But you should be able to poop without coffee, let’s address your digestion.)
  • A family member drinks it and it’s too tempting not to when the smell is wafting through the house. (Fair…but a good enough reason? There are compromises that can be made here.)
  • A hot drink in the morning is soothing, part of a morning ritual. (There are lots of lovely drinks that can be part of a morning ritual.)

And these are all reasonable. Unless they aren’t. (more…)

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Staying Productive When All You Want to Do is Curl Up on the Couch

Readers had questions. I have answers!

After my last post on the winter blues, I heard from many readers that they don’t exactly have winter blues, but they do notice that at this time of year that staying productive and motivated is much more difficult. Some people mentioned also that with everything going on in the world (think politics, health crises, lack of good health insurance and more) that they find themselves down in a way that exceeds their normal state at this time of year.

So today, I wanted to share some of the specific questions I got, along with some suggestions for keeping your mood and energy levels up as well as for being more productive and focused during the longer, darker, winter days.

1. Is it normal to be unmotivated in the winter? I feel so badly about doing nothing when I have cleaning to do, calls to make taxes to tend to…

This is a hard question. Actually…it isn’t. YES IT’S NORMAL. Was I yelling? Damn right I was.

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What’s the Deal with Winter Blues? 3 Solutions.

The lack of sunshine and shorter days take a toll on so many of us.  

My patients in the dark of winter suffer more with depression, they are more tired, their PMS is worse. In addition, I see more issues with sleep, with unwanted weight gain, with stress. And as you know if you’ve been reading my emails or work, I hold that increased stress will make most of our health conditions worse, even those that don’t have a direct association.

And it’s not just the Pacific Northwest where we see the profound effect of shorter, darker days. When I practiced in the Northeast I saw it all the time, Even people who live in sunnier climates can feel the effects. Here is another post that talks a little bit about why are prone to feel down in the winter months.

Does this mean that the lion’s share of people have a diagnosis of SAD, or seasonal effective disorder? No, of course not. But there are things that all of us can do to feel better during this time of year. (more…)

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Celebrating Chinese New Year: A Second Chance to Set Your Intentions

Chinese New Year Lantern

Chinese New Year LanternChinese New Year follows the Chinese lunar calendar and typically falls somewhere toward the end of January (this year it falls on the 25th), just about the time that most people have started to wane on their resolutions.

This tendency to wane is the reason that I recommend having themes or intentions instead of resolutions, and one of the reasons that I love Chinese New Year.

If we have themes or intentions instead of making resolutions we leave room for the fact that life happens. Because truly, when we fall short it is so rarely about willpower. It is more likely about not choosing the right goal, or not having the right support, or even about our own subconscious getting in our own way. 

Because of this, throughout the year I take advantage of all of the ‘new beginnings’ I can find. This includes Chinese New Year, the spring, summer, winter, and fall solstices, the Rosh Hashana, and others that have meaning just for me. 

On these new beginnings I reassess my values as well as reassess how I want to feel in my body and mind (you can find these exercises in my book) and then I regroup if necessary (goodness, life is complicated and regrouping is so often necessary!)

In addition to providing us with another opportunity to reflect, each Chinese New Year is rich in symbolism as they are associated with an animal from the Chinese zodiac. 2019 was a year of the pig and this year is… (more…)

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