January News Brief

Happy January and Happy New Year Further Shore friends.

We’ve been experiencing day after day of snow in northern Arizona. It is welcomed and needed in this high desert terrain; and oh, so beautiful! My office remodel is complete and since I am still in winter retreat mode, I’ve been writing, baking, planning some fun, and reveling in winter’s beauty. On a personal note, Our sweet canine, Olivia has done well with a year of rehab but still struggles with her knees. We are hopeful to avoid a surgical fix and are considering a process called “Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy”.  There is a lot to think about in terms of the process itself and the aftercare. If you or someone you know has done this kind of therapy, I would love to hear about your experience with it.

I hope you enjoyed a healthy, happy holiday season and have had time to rejuvenate and renew. Winter is a wonderful time for self-care, exploring goals, and dreaming up your next adventures. If you haven’t had time for any of that, try to carve out an hour for yourself once a week until the end of January to do so. You deserve it!  Now for the News:

  • On the Blog:  Check out letters A-R in the A.B.C.’s of Living Well. “S” is for Support will be ready for you soon.  You can view past newsletters here.
  • This Month’s Special Day:  Each year on the third Monday in January we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day). This year the holiday falls on January 16th. Dr. King was best known for his work on racial equality and ending racial segregation in the United States. His life and achievements are remembered and celebrated on this day. His legacy is one of courage, fortitude, and inspiration. MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer. Ways to celebrate include reading about his life and achievements, supporting national or local charities that work toward racial equality, and by volunteering in some way to improve your local community.
  • Post-Holiday Self-Care:  Now that the holidays are over, January can usher in a host of unwelcome feelings for everyone, including medically vulnerable people and caregivers. Sadness or sorrow (that it’s over) or disappointment (that it didn’t go as planned) are common. Overwhelm, anxiety, and worry about what the future will bring can also produce feelings that are made worse by weather woes and being stuck inside. Here are some tips to help lift us out of the doldrums.
    • Puttering and Small Tasks. After guests have departed and ornaments are packed away, we may look around and see a lot of unfinished business to attend to. Tax season is looming, dishes need doing, paperwork needs sorting, planning for medical care and appointments during inclement weather may seem daunting, etc. Take a breath. When the list is too long, choose one small task that feels easily doable. Instead of cleaning the whole house, just do the dishes! Celebrate with a cup of tea, green juice, or hot cocoa when the task is complete. Selecting and completing a small task in a self-determined time frame will offer a sense of agency and accomplishment that will lift your mood and encourage more of the same. For those who are homebound or receiving treatment for serious illness, small tasks like making morning tea or getting dressed can feel overwhelming. Remember that asking for assistance with small tasks is a sign of courage, not weakness.
    • Move the Body. During the winter months and especially right after the holiday madness, it is so alluring to wrap up in a warm blanket and binge watch Netflix. There is nothing wrong with that strategy of course and if you add comedy there are health benefits (see below “Laugh”). But too much couch potato time can contribute to aches and pains, unhealthy food binges, and increased feelings of those winter blues. Taking a brisk walk, engaging in yoga or Pilates, dancing in the living room, workouts at home or in the gym, even walking up and down stairs will help the body to maintain strength and flexibility. The added benefit is that movement helps to boost an overall feeling of well-being and elevates mood. Give yourself a challenge to move the body before wrapping up in that blanket! Dealing with physical disabilities or limited movement? Consult with a physical therapist or movement specialist to learn about ways to move the body safely.
    • Reach Out. Did you know that friendships can enrich your life and improve your health? Science tells us that adults with a strong social network have a reduced risk of several significant health problems including anxiety, depression, hypertension, and unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Friends can share in joyful events, help to brainstorm creative pursuits, and offer comfort or support in times of trouble or need. Maintaining friendships may feel difficult for those who are busy with family, work, and caregiving, but it can be as easy as a quick phone call. Claudia Glasser-Mussen, psychotherapist, says that the sound of a loved one’s voice is emotionally regulating. Try tapping into “The Secret Power of the 8 Minute Phone Call”. This idea is floated in the New York Times “Well” Newsletter. Set up the call for 8 minutes only with a hard stop at the 8-minute mark! You can always make a date for the longer conversation at the end of the call or via text.
    • Laugh. Laughter really is good medicine, so when the time is right, grab that warm blanket, wrap up, then que up some funny movies. That belly laugh will release endorphins to elevate your mood. It can also stimulate internal organs (lungs, heart, digestive tract), reduce stress, relieve feelings of anxiety, and improve the immune system! Make it a habit to spend time with friends you can laugh with. You may even be able to find laughter in the 8-minute phone call! If you are feeling daring, there is always virtual or in-person Laughter Yoga. Ha. Ha. Ha. OM!
    • Routines Matter.  Events and activities between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can be fun and exciting or unpredictable and stressful. Either way, normal daily routines can be disrupted. Establishing routines can help us to streamline life, reduce stress and depression, and increase feelings of calmness and well-being. So, after the holidays and, as we return to career, householding, child-raising, and caregiving activities, remember to build self-care time into your own daily routines. Doing something “just for you” every day will boost your spirits and your energy for accomplishing the more mundane daily tasks.
    • Watch the Drinking.  For those who indulge in beer, wine, or spirits, there can be a tendency to overdo it to cope with the post-holiday blues and winter’s chill. If you want to change those habits, it’s not too late to participate in “Dry January”. Regular drinkers who abstain from alcohol for 30 days report feeling more energy, having lower blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, better sleep, losing excess weight, and saving money! Good Housekeeping has listed the details about these benefits, plus some strategies for success.
  • Pandemic tidbit:  This article in Forbes outlines 7 COVID-19 Realities to Consider in 2023 including impact on the health care system and economy, inflation, supply chain issues, the “perfect storm” (RSV, flu, and COVID-19), Long Covid, and the poor general health of many Americans. It is a long article but worth the read especially if you or someone you care for is medically vulnerable. Stay safe and protect the vulnerable this winter.
  • Movies that Move Us:  Classic actors, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Burgess Meredith, and Ann Margaret, star in this month’s movie, Grumpy Old Men (PG 13; 1993).This tale of two feuding old friends is certainly good for belly laughs. It also serves up poignant reminders of falling in love at any age, personal mortality, and the value of friendship. Please do watch all the way to the end and grab the out-takes with Burgess Meredith in a hilarious series of one-liners.
  •  Quote of the Month:  “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.“ ~ Victor Hugo

May all beings be safe, well, happy, and content.

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