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Falling Apart – And Some Proposed Antidotes

Do you recall the Chicken Little quote “The sky is falling”?

Lately one wonders if that is indeed the case. So many things seem to be going wrong. It’s difficult and sad to start listing the problems, but in order to start helping each other cope we need to state them clearly. While reading this, remember that at the end we hope to find ways to counteract the negativity.

The pandemic caused by COVID-19 is definitely a significant part of the story. People have been frightened by the virus itself and its ability to cause serious disease and death. At this point in the almost two years of the pandemic, many of us know someone who either has become seriously ill or died. Unfortunately, the worldwide response has been somewhat disjointed and confusing. It has been so in our own country as well. There is a lot of information, even disinformation, circulating and it has become difficult to sort out the important points. The conflicting advice and the politicization is very sad, especially from a public health point of view. In addition, wide spread lockdowns, economic standstill, loss of jobs and income and the various upticks of COVID disease straining hospitals and their staffs, have had very serious ramifications. All this in the setting of social isolation has led to a perfect storm.

We have observed an increase in crime, shootings, drinking, drug use, overdoses and deaths, increased incidence of mental health problems, suicides, domestic violence, child abuse, anger against others, and also threats against school and public health workers, elected officials and even their family members. There have been community and family arguments over vaccinations and masking rules. Hate crimes have increased, as have racial tensions. It is incredibly sad to learn about recurrent school shootings. To top it off, national and global events such as sustained drought, and more frequent devastating wildfires, floods, hurricanes and tornados not only produce damage, loss of homes, economic hardship and deaths, but also leave behind desperation and terror in anticipation of the next crises. All this has been in the setting of a COVID Pandemic.

It is important that we understand these life altering circumstances and events which have caused many to unravel and begin to figure out ways to put ourselves back into some balance.

Suggestions for reclaiming balance in these troubled times are as follows:

¯ Rekindle your networks including your family, friends, work family and your community.

¯ Find ways to become involved in volunteer work, for example, Saint Susan’s Center, Striders, the schools, the hospital, the United Way, the Salvation Army, the churches, various non-for profits, etc. Organizations whose unions are not receptive of volunteers need to reevaluate this issue. People are happier and healthier when they can help others.

¯ Find your own way to become someone who is a role model for others, live a life that is an example of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

¯ Learn about meditation and mindfulness. There are many examples of videos and our local libraries can also help you find various sources.

¯ Connect with our local community more. If the world seems to be falling apart, our own little corner can still be special, but continual work is needed. Volunteering is one way as mentioned above, helping our needy neighbors another, but additional ways to build community are necessary. These include participation in efforts such as Habitat for Humanity, community and neighborhood revitalization efforts, and city, school, church and not-for-profit events, all of which can bolster people’s spirts. Become a real supporter! It is also important to learn and be in touch with the community at large by subscribing to and supporting our local newspaper and the other avenues available to help keep the community together and moving forward.

¯ Finally, taking care of one’s health is a key to our rebalancing efforts. Eat as healthy as you can, including a plant-based diet, and using food grown locally whenever possible. Sadly, food prices are going up, and it will be increasingly hard to manage a healthy diet, but try hard. Get daily exercise as tolerated which can be done at home, in your neighborhood, or best out in nature. For example, visit the Audubon and nearby trails and state parks, etc. Your health care provider can offer advice as to what amount of exercise you can tolerate. nature is a good healer, so take advantage when you can.

During this pandemic, heed sound and trusted medical advice and get vaccinated against COVID if you are not already and you are eligible. Ask your own physician for advice as needed. Even advice can be a conflicted subject, since an ocaasional physician may seem not to support vaccinations or mask mandates. However, i do want to emphasize that most physicians and internationally known national medical organizations that are true and trusted through the decades all are supportive of public health measures including vaccinations for those eligible, to ensure the safty of all of us. Stay focused on this and stay well.

Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney is a retired physician and Jamestown resident.

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