If you’re feeling panic and anxiety, you are not alone. Our godsend medical teams are exhausted, terrified and not shirking
their duty to serve you even though they’re dying themselves. Please honor them by obeying their only request of us: stay at home.
However, on the home front, it is not easy to be together 24/7. So another war zone could be brewing. To mitigate friendly fire, disruptions and hurt feelings, here’s how to become a hero at home:
- Relish your newfound blocks of free time.
- Nap and catch up on your sleep.
- Sip a smoothie, and chill.
- Go with the flow, and learn these 5 Keys to Stay Calm, Cool and Collected.
Key #1 Salute The Troops
Families have had to adapt because of COVID-19. Here’s a look at them…BEFORE and NOW:
BEFORE: Your family gathered together usually after work or after a school day around dinner time.
NOW: You’re all crammed in each other’s spaces – all ages and all day long.
BEFORE: You carefully monitored your kids’ electronics screen time.
NOW: Your limit has been overruled by mandatory online classes relying on laptops, pads, and cell phones.
BEFORE: You enjoyed pet projects while your spouses were at work, elderly parents in day care, and kids in school.
NOW: Your kitchen never closes: eating, snacking, cooking, washing, rinsing and repeating each day.
BEFORE: Your conversations might have been bossy or critical.
NOW: Words and tone are escalating into rude, impatient and sarcastic bullying.
BEFORE: Cocktails, wine or beer were served during dinner.
NOW: The Happy Hour has turned into a Happy Day.
BEFORE: Personalities ranged from measured, active, studious, or free-wheeling.
NOW: They are intensifying, bouncing off walls, obliterating private quiet zones, chatting noisily and couch potatoes fighting for tv remotes.
BEFORE: Everyone rushed in different directions for sports, work, school, volunteering and social events.
NOW: Everyone is cooped up, with fewer ways to release pressure or stress.
BEFORE: Conversations were about school events, work deadlines, procedures, punch lists.
NOW: With more time in closer quarters, some family members are cringing while others are opening up to new conversations.
For quick tips to fortify and elevate family spirit:
- Consider two useful conversational icebreakers: “Is this current situation the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do in your life (to stay at home)?
- Search Ideas for creative outlets: crafts, cooking, cleaning closets, gamification, washing cars, making cards, journaling. Start a special family project to help the community.
- Form your own family task force with daily briefings.
- Agree to disagree without blasting each other.
- Keep emotions in check…avoid wounding and kneejerk reactions.
- Add romance and homage to your conversations.
- Step into each other’s shoes.
- Discover newfound friendships to become soulmates and best friends forever (BFF).
Remember our elderly who may be confused. As a family coach and carehome owner of two licensed adult residential care homes for 20 years, our residents have been informed about social distancing and the virus, but perhaps forgetting why their family members aren’t dropping by for visits, parties, meals, excursions, or simply holding hands and giving hugs.
The biggest downer of aging is feeling alone or isolated so our staff and administration are on alert to increase deeper heartfelt connections, arranging for video conferencing calls, playing games, and assuring health and safety. We love up your elders who request only one thing: feeling cherished. Hopefully, we’ll be partying again soon and on target for Mother’s Day or by Father’s Day!
When you salute the troops, you hold your family in the highest esteem. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to find out what makes them tick. Family unity and cohesiveness aren’t on auto pilot; it takes concerted effort, focus and skill especially during a major crisis.
Key #2 Pack Your Parachute
In a recent CNN interview, a 25 year old nurse said her colleagues and friends were dying and she worried, “am I next?” so she told her family about her last wishes and wrote out her WILL, in case she passed away. At this young age, she is already forewarning her parents about what to do, if she died unexpectedly. We hope this lovely nurse lives a long life, praising her for caring so deeply for her family who would be clueless, if she passed without warning.
While you are at home, this is a good time to gather your critical documents, and think about how you’d tell your family about your details so they can be prepared. I see families suffering because they weren’t given a road map, so they try to sort out small and big decisions like choosing a coffin or giving away the family china and sterling flatware.
Two brothers waited for their Mom to pass away, and then asked, “who gets her diamond ring?”
She didn’t leave any instructions. The two brothers wanted it for their wives, but didn’t know how to begin conversations, plus who would make that decision? Finally, they blurted out their ideas and then their wives began to draw party lines. One brother said that his brother didn’t care for their mom in the same way he came over each week to help in her home, so he felt he didn’t deserve her diamond. While the other one complained he bought his mom lots of things, took her own trips, paid for repairs, unlike his brother who didn’t spend any money, so he said he deserved a payback.
There isn’t a right and wrong answer and their debate continues today with their lawyers resolving issues. I want to be sure that you can preserve your families because I would hate to see this happening to anyone when it could have been averted.
Without prior arrangements, it causes mistrust and blame, and thousands of dollars in fees, and stomps out good feelings. Not only did their mom die, it put an end to their lovely sibling and cousins’ friendships that might be blocked from going into the next generation.
These horror stories are commonly played out in your families, in your hometown, and all over the world. Many families are emotionally charged and aren’t able to solve them without fretting or a fight whereas it could have been amicably addressed and settled earlier with intentional steps.
On the other hand, your plan is a huge gift to your family. You’ll be hailed as a hero, and remembered for taking care of them, like skydivers who wish for happy landings whenever they pack their own parachutes and lifelines.
If this mission is accomplished, your families don’t have to stand there, scratching their heads, shrugging and guessing about picking up your pieces and the mountains of your stuff – jewelry, books, hobbies, clothes that you will leave behind.
Have you packed your own parachute yet? Are you filling it with the footprints of your experiences, current and future plans before passing it forward?
Key #2 makes sure your loved ones are confidently led by your dreams, desires and goals.
I coached and conducted a Slim Up and Live Class over 40 years ago where several ladies joined to share their progress, weigh in, mark their setbacks, victories and stories. It brought awareness, sisterhood, laughter while accomplishing their personal goals. It would be fun and beneficial to get together, if you want to collect your own thoughts and plans with others who seek the support and goals…and have fun along the way because this boring task can give peace of mind.
While you are stuck at home, with fewer distractions, would it be possible to start gathering your important documents? One of the first topics to think about is to develop your medical directives especially in today’s tentative world. For instance, did you designate a DNR? (Do Not Resuscitate).
And answering other questions such as your physicians’ names and phone numbers. The location of your medical insurance cards? Prescriptions? Your insurance policy numbers?
Do you have your own critical documents gathered in your own parachute?
Are you ready for happy or hard landings? D
o you have war stories about not getting this done?
Have you provided your ultimate gift of continuity to share with your family loved ones or is that up in the air and disorganized? Would you be interested in a support group to bring this all together quickly, and covering all bases?
If you want to create your financial roadmap, you can learn more here.
Key #3 Sanitize Your Thoughts
To the thousands of families in shock over your loved ones passing, I have the deepest sympathies for you. I can imagine that you might be replaying memories of your last days together, wishing you could have been there, done more.
When my client’s mom passed away, his blood pressure shot up, he lost weight and his job. He was unprepared, and he eventually left his wife of 28 years. Whether his mom’s death actually triggered his losses, he felt like a failure, a disappointment to his family, and that he didn’t do enough. Luckily, he sought help and took small steps to bounce back.
My Dad’s last moments in the hospital twenty years ago are still vividly clear. Our family had the highest hopes but his oxygen levels sunk on the ventilator. We were shocked and didn’t expect him to die because just two months earlier, he was vacationing and eating sushi with us in Japan.
Today, my heart breaks whenever I hear that families are unexpectedly losing loved ones, or worse yet, not able to say goodbyes at bedside. I want to do as much as I can so that you are at least partially prepared for life’s changes that can happen without warning.
In the coming days, you and your families will be faced with big decisions. Postponing funerals, searching for critical documents, filing applications for reimbursements, notifying agencies, paying bills, closing up family homes, finding new pet owners, in between your tears that your loved ones are really gone.
No one is immune from these saddest times; however the way you think can either support you or cascade into a downward funk.
Here are ideas to turn around your negative thoughts:
- I lost my job, now I can’t pay my bills. (resignation)
- I hate being trapped at home. (anger)
- I can’t go to my favorite restaurants. (forlorn and helpless)
- Why now? Why me? (feeling like a victim)
And replace them with positive thoughts:
- “I am doing my small, but mighty, part to stop the spread. (positive action)
- I am so grateful that I am not on the front lines like the doctors and nurses
- who are risking their lives. (appreciation)
- I can apply for disaster loan assistance. (hopeful)
- I see opportunities with silver linings. (optimism)
- I help others. (selfless)
- Let’s order take-aways from my fave restaurants!” (creative resolution)
- I am enjoying my staycation! (fun)
The key is to convert negative into positive thoughts with the skill of a Kentucky Derby jockey, not fumbling like a greenhorn sliding from a bucking bronco.
Your nasty thoughts resurface when you least expect them; brushing your teeth, in nightmares, or just breathing. They have a way of infiltrating, reminding you about those dismissive snubs, abrupt conversations, bullying, taunting insults and the silent cold shoulders. These experiences are like a drunken driver weaving in your rearview mirror.
Nagging thoughts don’t go away automatically, even if you smoked a pack of cigarettes or downed a whole case of beer. They can strangle your spirit, and become life sentences, if you let them run wild.
Ernest Santos, my audio tech in my coaching workshops, has been a recovering alcoholic for 15+ years, volunteering to support his recovery groups. He says, “it was not the love of alcohol that kept me down…it was my mind replaying those negative thoughts.”
Therefore, to cope with road bumps that will be coming your way, it is important for you to know how to cleanse, sanitize and send your thoughts through a weekly carwash.
Leave a comment below about your own recurring thoughts. Does your mind play tricks on you? How do your thoughts influence your emotions, habits and choices? What are some of the ways that you use to change your thoughts and replace them with new ones?
Key #4 – The Pivot and Switch Maneuver
When we read the headlines that schools are cancelled, airline routes are shut down, tourists are no longer welcomed, we thought, “ok, this is real, we better follow the rules too.”
Little did we know that other people were not freaked out to the same extent, and in fact, many were unphased. They continued to leave their homes, attend church, eat out, and socialize in groups of 50 or more.
My friend’s parents, over 70 years old with vulnerable life-threatening conditions are still going outside…against their children pleading and begging them to stay home, and wash their hands.
With over one million people infected in the world, and the strict instructions to stay at home, would these deserters be known as traitors? Or plain stubborn?
You’d wonder what it would take for them to heed warnings.
In most families, this type of reaction is considered predictable. Usually one or two members often oppose the majority as they march to the beat of their own drummers.
How do you urge someone to give up their driver’s license after repeatedly smashing the mailbox?
Or write a Will? Use a cane after falling down again? Have one less ice-cream scoop per the diabetes diet?
Who would be the anointed ones to persuade them? Would it be their own children? Spouse?
Grandchildren? CPA? a trusted family friend, their pastor?
This question is being asked each day around the world, “who is the best person to coax our parents or siblings to change their minds, habits, thoughts and decisions.”
Can someone bring them around before they suffer consequences?
Here are 3 ideas that might be useful:
- Bonding and Rapport: Instead of going through the front entry of someone’s house, bonding and rapport builds bridges before ringing any doorbells. This technique opens safe spaces before discussing diverse ideas, especially for those who might see the world differently like the organization that believes that the world is flat. Bonding and rapport is a friendly space before dictating agendas that would likely cause shutdowns.
- Personality Preferences: Consider personalities before making your case. Do your family members call the shots? Or do they like to follow the pied piper? Do they weigh and analyze all the facts and data before executing any decision? Or do they pull the trigger fast: ready, fire then aim, without talking to anyone beforehand?
- Fortifying Mindset: Before suggesting any ideas, even if they are proven lifesavers, set your personal foundation to withstand interference, commotion or blame. If you watch a large building under construction you’d see the huge pilings that are pounded in before any concrete pour. Your pillars will undergird and help you maneuver any blowback or detour. If you are going to confront a tough case, such as a person who refuses to ring his call light before standing up, or who doesn’t share information with his beneficiaries, or believes that he’ll be hit by any virus, then fortify yourself so you are ready to hunker down with your toolkit.
The key to handling life’s challenges is knowing how to Pivot and Switch – the PS Maneuver.
You are responsible of creating your own amazing journey when you take the reins:
- Call out your positive and negative thoughts.
- Speak poignantly to the heart of your loved ones.
- Use bonding and rapport.
- Pack your parachute because no one can do it better.
- Be generous and kind to your loved ones.
Our next and final key will provide more ideas…so that you can lighten your load. You can move from being stuck at home to having luck at home. A book called the Blue Zones by Daniel Buettner highlights the secrets to aging and living long lives. With a grant from the National Geographic, he searched the world to discover seven areas from Costa Rica, Okinawa and Loma Linda which has the greatest number of centenarians, who are healthfully surpassing life expectancy levels. They know how to laugh each day, make lasting connections to others and think with positive thoughts.
Are you ready to dive in, and laugh and ride the waves of COVID-19 and other challenges?
Key #5 – Laugh Out Loud
“Even in the hardest of times, laughter has a steadfast ability to bring people together. Researchers from Finland and the United Kingdom found that social laughter triggers the release of endorphins – often referred to as “feel good hormones” – in brain regions responsible for arousal and emotion.“ By Honor Whiteman, Medical News Today Newsletter. Jun 3, 2017
Laughing Out Loud, LOL, is the secret to a happy mind and body because it releases happy hormones that race from your brain to light up your body like a ball in a pinball machine.
Ding Ding Ding!
Laugh Out Loud several times a day even if no one is laughing with you. Don’t be shy or refrain from it. Be creative and find your own outlets, while taking a shower or driving your car (Tesla cars have a prerecorded tape on the farting sounds) even if the banter might seem terribly callous, inappropriate or disrespectful of the somber moods in our world today.
Your happy hormones can lessen burnout, sadness, fear and shock so laughing is not for entertainment, it can actually extend and perpetuate a healthy life with a strong immune system.
It’s no wonder that Saturday Night Live is now celebrating 45 years, the longest-running programs in television, and other late night talk shows are emceed by comedians whose stand-up routines help to clear your mind before ending your day.
It’s no laughing matter when doctors, nurses and other medical team members say they are working in “war zones”. They are frightened, lacking sleep, getting sick and dying themselves. Perhaps that is why they’re finding some relief through laughter, joking, singing, dancing, sharing feelings, applauding each other, or they’d sobbing hysterically to relieve grief.
Here are examples of how these heroic medical teams are coping with the burden from the current world crisis. Two medical doctors, wearing their scrubs, performed John Lennon’s Imagine song. Dr. Elvis L. Francois, the soloist, and resident at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, was accompanied by Dr. William Robinson on the piano performing for The iHeart Living Room Concert for America” on Fox News.
In another show of strong camaraderie, Emily Fawcett, RN at the Lenox Hill Hospital, formed a daily meeting called the Hope Huddles a circle time among her ER department nurses to bring closure, share tears, optimism, and laughter to uplift each other during this time of heavy sadness.
Laughter is the same as releasing the valve on top of your pressure cooker before it explodes from excessive steam and heat. Laughing is free…you don’t have to pay for it, it is easy to carry, and it doesn’t weigh you down.
Knock knock jokes have the potential to flip ordinary words, upside down and sideways. If you want additional ideas to increase your happy hormones, go to annettepang.com and download the free the home study worksheet on LOL Laughter.
Read silly jokes and share them with others to inject more laughter into your mind, body and spirit. Leave a comment below and tell us 3 things that make you laugh. LOL may save your life during a time when we’re losing them in huge numbers each day.
Stay tuned for other ways you can generate peace, harmony and hope and be a hero at home!