February News Brief

Happy February Further Shore friends,

Winter Storm, January 2023

This is the month we look to that famous marmot, Punxsutawney Phil, to tell us if winter will last for six more weeks. Since Phil saw his shadow on February 2nd, we can expect 6 more weeks of winter. Even before Phil saw his shadow, those of us who live in my humble village knew that. After a series of storms attributed to the atmospheric river, we received about 60 inches of the white stuff. Aside from the gob smacking beauty there are plenty of troubles that come with that much snow. There are downed trees and branches, dangerous icicles, treacherous hills, and one lane streets with snowbanks so high that you cannot see vehicles rounding corners. Not to mention the ice dams! Since ice dams can cause roof damage and leaks inside the house, Robert is spending a fair amount of time on a ladder trying to wrangle them. Fun times!

Thanks to everyone who wrote in about “Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy”.  It sounds like there were many excellent experiences for humans using PRP and stem cell therapies for soft tissue injuries. After doing more research on canine PRP, and a new set of radiographs for our dog, Olivia, we made a choice for knee surgery. It’s scheduled for February 20. Thanks for your kind wishes as we navigate. Now for the News:

  • This Month’s Special Day:   Valentine’s Day with its chocolates, hearts, and flowers is often the big day to celebrate love in February. While love does make the world go ‘round, this month’s special day is February 17th, Random Acts of Kindness Day. It sits in the middle of Random Acts of Kindness Week, established by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. From their website: RAK provides kindness activities and other resources for participants to celebrate the day in a coordinated effort to Make Kindness the Norm.®  Since the entire month of February is dedicated as American Heart Month, acts of kindness toward yourself and others seem to be in order. Research shows that there are many benefits to the practice of kindness, including stress reduction and lowering blood pressure (both major factors for a healthy heart).
  • On the Blog:  “S” is for Support is finally ready!  You can view this and all past newsletters here.
  • Take Care of Your Heart:
    • Eat Healthy. That means something different for everyone these days. There are so many dietary choices to make including what type of diet is best. Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten free, grain free, low carb, FOD Map, Mediterranean, Atkins, etc. How to choose? Work with a credentialed professional (dietician, naturopath, nutritionist). Practice Mindful Eating and be aware of portions, binge eating, and blood sugar issues. Lower sodium and saturated fat. Add fiber.
    • Stay Active. Even if snow is impeding normal outdoor exercise, there are ways to get moving in winter. Consider two or three shorter walks outside, joining a dance class, doing resistance training, or virtual cardio in your own living room. Spend less time sitting with a stand-up desk or set a timer to take a walk every couple of hours. If you live in an area where snow is abundant, shoveling can be good exercise. But there are risks associated with that activity! This article in Healthline describes how heart attacks can happen while snow shoveling.
    • Watch out for the Blues. Did you know that February is one of the worst months for the Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Vitamin D and sunshine can help, as well as exercise, social connections, and laughter.
    • Meditate. The science has been in for a long time that meditation, mindfulness, and music help to reduce stress and support a healthy heart. If you already practice, great! If you have not started yet, here is a very effective 3-minute meditation by Lizzy Hill.
    • Don’t Smoke. There is a help line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW and other help for smokers who are ready to kick the habit.
    • Self-Care. Winter is a good time to indulge in things that help us to feel good. Activities like baking, walking, reading, working puzzles, napping, or cleaning the closet can feel good while providing stimulus or refreshment for the body and brain. Caregivers may have limited time and extra stressors during winter’s inclement weather events. Family caregivers are especially vulnerable to cardiac stress and need to carve out time for self-care and support that makes sense.
    • Reduce Doom Scrolling.  Everyone wants to stay updated, safe, and in the know, but the constant barrage of bad news is stress producing. Reduce “news stress” by setting aside a specific amount of time each day or evening to check the news. Stop looking for more bad news once you have the information you need to take an action if action is warranted (i.e., prepare for a disaster, inform others, donate to a cause, call government representatives, attend an event, etc.). Once you have the info needed, take a deep breath. Smile. Roll your shoulders. Take another deep breath. Then spring into action if you need to or do something from your self-care routines.
  • Pandemic tidbit:  Long COVID, Long Haulers, Post COVID-19 Conditions, and Post Covid Sequalae are all names for a debilitating condition that is occurring for millions of people of all ages worldwide. This article from Johns Hopkins Medicine addresses many facets of Long COVID including descriptions of symptoms. This 3-minute YouTube features those who treat Long Haulers and those who are recovering. Please continue to respect and protect the medically vulnerable.
  • Movies that Move Us:  Classic actors, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Burgess Meredith, and Ann Margaret are back with Sophia Loren in this month’s movie, Grumpier Old Men. This time it’s Max’s (Matthau) turn to fall in love. But his new love interest, Maria (Loren) is upsetting the fishermen by turning their bait shop into a restaurant. Raucous behavior, pranks, laughter, and romantic gestures are the movie’s hallmarks, alongside some very tender reminders of the mortal coil. Again, the out-takes at the end will inspire gales of laughter. . .  a must for beating the winter blues!
  •  Quote of the Month:  “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” ~  Diana, Princess of Wales

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

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