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Beating the blues

I’m not sure how the past week was for you — mine was rather up and down. Some real peaks and a few valleys. It prompted me to conjure up more ways to stay psychologically intact until the first 100 days of our new president have passed, by which time I am hoping I will have had both my COVID-19 vaccinations, and my life as I prefer to live it will be reclaimed.

In the meantime, I offer thoughts on how to stay physically and cognitively on top of daily goings-on. My primary incentive for writing about this is an article on self-care strategies published in the most recent issue of Consumer Reports’ “On Health.” That’s the publication that promises “the truth about what’s good for you.”

They offer ideas like “eat energy.” My spoonful of peanut butter on an apple slice to limit mid-afternoon doldrums seems to pass that test. Yesterday’s peanut butter cups — not so much. Note “cups” is plural.

Another healthful suggestion from Consumer Reports — “don’t become the victim of an unstructured day.” Plan for things that have “purpose and meaning.” So yesterday my husband and I caulked the floor of the shower in our master bath (“purpose: to prevent, no, make that “eradicate” mold and mildew) and then we went for a walk around the river near our home (“meaning:” let in the light/experience nature/exercise with others). See how this works?

“Stay hydrated” is always one way to “beat the blues,” and ever since I heard that Jennifer Aniston swears by (I am a fan) drinking a tall glass of water full of lemon slices first thing in the morning, I have been doing the same thing. In fact, I have been doing that all day long for the past two weeks and, darn it, I feel better. I was also reminded there’s a soon to be televised reunion of Aniston’s “Friends” sitcom, which made me feel better as well. More comedic videos and less cable news is my new plan.

Another idea — this one is my own suggestion to myself. Write down little things you have done well and consolidate them in a notebook or put them a jar on the kitchen counter. Review those personal affirmations periodically and you will be surprised both at what you found self-affirming at a particular moment and how many (or how few) affirmations you actually have. More is better.

“Give back” is likely to be found in almost any article about improving overall well-being. By helping someone else you help yourself. I have a “service gene,” so that’s an easy one for me — usually. A bit harder when face-to-face, hands-on volunteerism is colored by concern about pandemic interaction. That said, I just purchased a substantial gift card to give to residents of a local women’s shelter so they can buy dirt and seeds for their raised-bed gardens. I also promised to come in the spring and help them plant. Just thinking about doing that makes me feel good. See how this works?

Sharon Johnson is a retired health educator. Reach her at sharjohn99@gmail.com.