For some people, our new world of pandemic-required isolation has meant more time with loved ones, a welcomed slowing down, and maybe a little more sleep.
And for others, the strain of trying to work from home with the kids around, working on the front-line jobs, the loss of connection, or watching loved ones suffer is taking a toll.
Maybe it's all true at the same time. Which can lead to feeling happy and grateful one day and weepy and worried the next. If this sounds familiar, you're not alone.
This week, I start a new video-interview series called "Better than Surviving: How to Stay Emotionally Well in the Time of COVID-19. I'll gather experts who are steeped in the research and work focused on thriving and what it takes: yes, even in a pandemic. Through these interviews, we'll bring you practical ideas along with emotional support and a big dose of inspiration to get us through this time stronger and ready for whatever comes next.
by Anne O'Connor
A key strategy to staying healthy during the Coronavirus pandemic—keeping six feet apart from one another—can also have an unintended side effect: limiting the healing properties of touch.
“Touch has significant effects on health and well-being,” said Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute, in an email interview. “Touching, as in hugging and back rubbing, stimulates pressure receptors under the skin that in turn increase vagal activity—the vagus being the largest cranial nerve. This touching slows the nervous system by, for example, decreasing the heart rate and the production of stress hormones.”
Field said she hopes that people who are isolating together get more touch, now that many people are together more. And if someone is alone, she said there’s plenty that person can do to create the benefits in their bodies as well.
Field is the founder of the Touch Research Institute at the University...
Although I am socially isolating, I'm doing my best to stay in touch with people. More than one person has said that they were kind of feeling cozy and enjoying being at home. In such a difficult time, there’s a bit of guilt that goes along with enjoying this time of isolation. Because although isolating can be challenging—even harrowing—the truth is that for some, it's not all bad.
Let me acknowledge that it is quite bad for many. Some who isolated folks are working with depression and anxiety and isolation is the wrong recipe for being well.
And the people who are suffering with the actual virus and their families, times are tough. Also, for people who are not able to socially isolate because we need them. We can all send our gratitude and our support and our care to the sick and the people on the front lines, especially in health care. But all over, people are working in jobs because we need them, and they cannot...
by Anne O'Connor
Sleep solves so many problems. And the more irregular and infrequent your sleep, the more problems you have.
I'm not just talking about sniping at the people you love and being unpleasant to be around—although I am talking about that. Don't sleep and your relationships are going to stink. That's the real deal. If you find yourself regularly cranky, irritable and short-tempered, you may want to consider more sleep. Your people certainly want you to.
It's more than our relationships that are affected though. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to all kinds of other problems—everything from being overweight, to lower libido, a host of illnesses and car crashes. Plus, people being sleep-deprived has been linked to some of the most serious accidents in memory—Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez crash, and the space shuttle Challenger accident. Some research shows that people who sleep less die earlier. With...
Who actually gets everything they need from their parents? Almost no one. Is there anything worse?
Well, passing all that didn't work on to our kids or others we love...ugh.
Today, I tell my story about going to hell--first with my father and then, as so often happens, with my own children. And how we all found the way back.
There's never been a better reason for me to become a better person than my children.
Take a look at today's video and sign up for my email list so you won't miss this amazing offer we're putting together for you.
Thanks for being here!
love to you and your favorite people,
by Anne O'Connor
The brutality of sexual violence seems unbearable. But here’s the thing about seemingly unbearable parts of life: we still have to bear them. How can we help one another bear life’s tragedies, big and small?
There’s a ton of talk now about resiliency: the ability to overcome—especially quickly. The research is clear that we can build resiliency even after the worst of circumstances. But I wonder if this hopeful perspective is helping us do some thing we humans are already so good at: rushing past the hard parts of recovering from a traumatic event.
Timing and support is everything.
There are times when resiliency is too much to ask for. Sometimes, the weight and the cost of the assault is so heavy and high. How hurt is too hurt? Are there some of us who just won’t be able to stand back up? What do we do then?
There is a way to help deeply hurt people. But we don’t...
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
For me, this is a day to remember my ancestors and to celebrate Ireland, the green island of my grandparents.
My father’s name was Patrick, and maybe you know that Catholics are fond of celebrating their saint’s “Feast Day.” This is a day on the calendar that the Catholic Church assigns to a particular saint—the patron saint of Ireland. And while I long ago left behind the shame and the guilt and the abuse of the Catholic Church, I’ve had to make peace with the guy who raised me in that church.
So St. Patrick Day in my household always had the fanfare of the holiday—parades and shamrocks and wearing green and a celebration of all things Irish. And the deeper meaning of it being my father’s day. Now, it seems that everyone loves to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I was reminded of how prevalent this is when I looked at the Google icon today:
Google is using the triskelion in a beautiful tribute...
I have this thing I do when I notice myself feeling grumbly and irritated. Because most of the time my complaints are minor in the grand scheme of the world, so I like to shake myself out of complaining. And even when the complaints are straight-up legit, there’s always more than one way to look at a situation.
So, I make a list. Right there, on the spot, of all the things that I can genuinely appreciate about the thing I was grumbling and complaining about. The only rule is that the appreciations have to be real. Sometimes it’s difficult to get to 10. But I do it and it always gives me a better perspective.
Today, I decided to do my list out loud and in public, because I’m thinking that some of you could use this list today too. Snow shovelers unite!
Without further ado:
It’s a familiar feeling for women in these United States. We live in the best of times, we live in the worst of times. We live with a president who shows little respect for women. We see violence and division grow each day.
But then we see the faces of the winners in the 2018 mid-term elections and oh! We are so powerful--we are making the changes.
Women made history in this week’s elections: Our new U.S. Congress will have more women than ever before in the history of our nation.
Great, right? So how many of our 535 seats available will now go to women? Half--the percentage of women in the country--would be 267.
But the best we've ever done is more like 22 percent
Results are still coming in, but we know it will be at least 118—up from the previous high of 107.
It’s great! We are right to celebrate our progress. It’s also not enough.
If the numbers were to reflect the composition of our country, half women and half...
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