New Variant, same packaging, more anxiety.

Covid marches on. We now have a new variant that is making the news rounds just in time for the holidays (what a coincidence). At nearly 2 years in on Covid the battle lines are pretty much drawn at this point. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room out there so keep in mind the views I give on this blog may not necessarily be mainstream. Believe it or not, I can see both sides of the issue. I know *GASP* a moderate!!!!! KILL IT WITH FIRE… but seriously….

Here we are in the middle of the holiday season and we have another variant Omicron. You will start to see this variant pop up in every news story from now until the first of the year. It will be tied into xmas, inflation, gas prices, and any number of conservatives screaming about vax mandates or liberals screaming about canceling someone they don’t like. Meanwhile out here the real world where we have to live our life it’s another layer of anxiety heaped on us.

For those of us with anxiety Covid is a bludgeon. I get it, its serious people can get really sick and some die. I’m not dismissing it. The vaccine has been available now for nearly a year so anyone who wants it has it but there is no let up. So how do we deal with YET ANOTHER wave of covid inspired anxiety? I wish I had a great answer honestly, I don’t. I think we are eroding our social construct to the point that in 5 years I’m still going to be answering people if I got the vaccine or not (which I did).

Maybe a nice cup of tea will help?

In the end you have to still work hard to create the life you want. If that means getting vaccinated for you good. If it means not getting vaccinated and subjecting yourself to restriction and hostility, power to you. In the end as people with anxiety we have to begin to accept the fact that Covid and the current variant are going to be present in our lives for the long term. I envision a future where a covid booster is going to be pressed on us annually and the covid bludgeon will be used anytime the media and or politicians need a way to get the masses riled up.

It may or may not be a big factor in your anxiety journey I don’t know. What I do know is it’s not being let go. Meaning having a vaccine available and allowing those who want it to get it isn’t enough. So we will all still be consumers of the covid story, emboldened to shout at and argue with those who don’t agree with us. A convenient label to lump anyone with a singular view into a neat bucket so you can identify them, and market to them…. I digress.

Just remember anxiety is real and the more you consume covid news the more anxiety you are going to have. Be kind to others, respect others liberty, treat people the way you want to be treated and determine what is right for you and lead by example.

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How to determine WHAT anxiety disorder you have.

Many of us generalize anxiety in prose, I do it I’m sure many of you have in your life as well. Simply put we use the term “anxiety” as a catch all for any anxious reaction. It’s an umbrella term that is simple to understand, you tell anyone “I have anxiety” and they have a good general sense of what is happening with you. What happens next though? When you continue down the rabbit hole, what do you find? Indeed, there are several types of anxiety disorders. I found a good article here that discusses the issue.

From the article: All anxiety disorders cause chronic and persistent forms of distress and discomfort, which can include emotional and physical symptoms, but they differ from one another based on the specific trigger of the anxiety, Jenny C. Yip, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and owner of the Renewed Freedom Center in Los Angeles, tells SELF.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobia disorders are among the most common types of anxiety disorders. Other common anxiety disorders include post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.”

stressed-out-woman
Some days are worse then others.

The article goes on to list out and elaborate on several types of anxiety disorders, it’s a good article definitely take some time with it. Look I don’t need to elaborate here, as many of us are on an anxiety journey we deal with the symptoms and consequences daily. Identifying triggers or specific conditions around your particular situation is critical to creating a management plan on how to cope and eventually thrive.

This article does a good job of mapping things out for you and who knows maybe there is a nugget of data in here that helps you progress on your journey. I hope this helps you, if nothing else it can help with confirmation and affirmation and that’s a positive.

You are doing great, one day at a time.

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You might call it Halloween, someone else might call it Alfablot

It is the Friday before Halloween, and where I live that’s a big deal. Its a fun holiday and it should be better this year as covid restrictions are relaxed (at least where I am). We get a lot of kids at our house nearly 100 every year. We live in one of those developments where people drop their kids off, its safe lot of houses, one way in and surrounded by deep woods. The town I live in also has a curfew on Halloween, 8PM. It’s not a militant curfew, I mean the cops aren’t out in riot gear… but at 8PM they ask you turn your light off and not hand out any candy.

But, how did all this start?

“Today’s religion is tomorrows myth” a wise man. Many celebrations, holidays and religious observances are overlap, borrowed or redundant. When we as a species were in our formidable years around 2000 years ago, religions competed with one another for followers. This isn’t meant to be cynical it’s just how it was. That doesn’t detract from the piety of those at the time, but religion was different then, faith was an absolute. Meaning, there was no internet, cell phone, most people couldn’t read.

Here we are on the cusp of the western worlds holiday season. Halloween ushers in the season, we get veterans day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s Day all within 70 days ( a touch over 2 months). Where do these holidays come from? You likely know some of the stories, you likely know, as an example, that the “12 days of Christmas” run nearly concurrently with Chanukah.

So, what are some of the other holidays that coincide or more accurately, preceded our current festivals? For Halloween there is Alfablot. Here is a link that describes it in more detail

What did your ancestors think?

In short, Aflablot is the sacrifice of the elves. Elves in the Viking world mostly represented dead spirits. So, this was a celebration of the dead, for lack of a more eloquent, and lengthy discussion. Sound familiar? Your Norse ancestors would have celebrated this blot toward the end of October. It was after harvest when the world was becoming bleak and barren.

In antiquity, in the Norse world, this was the time of the dead. You prepared most of the year to survive the winter and this was a time when people died to the elements and illness. The Alfablot was a singular ceremony, meaning each house conducted their own, in an effort to reach ancestors and elves in the hopes of communal discourse.

The hope was you would be able to convince the spirits to protect your house and family. There were no trick or treats but, indeed it was similar to Halloweens origins in spirit. Its symbolic of the end of the harvest, a preparation for winter. This Halloween, have fun, enjoy the celebration where you are as winter is coming (Is that you John Snow?).

Happy Halloween and Happy Alfablot !

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Warning signs from your child about anxiety

Another anxiety piece on the blog today. We have discussed this topic at length here and one of the many issues in the anxiety sphere is how anxiety impacts children. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a child today, when I was a kid there was no internet everywhere, no smart phones, heck we just got cable but I concede I am ancient. Now? Any news you want, framed the way you want to see it is available 24-7. I wonder do the adults in the room who create these silos of affirmation and fear consider the impact on the very young?

I found a good article here that may help you recognize in your child some of the common behaviors for childhood anxiety.

From the article: “Basically, what we have found is that childhood anxious behaviors related to social isolation and sadness appear to carry risk for developing an anxiety disorder in later life” says Mr. Monk. “In contrast, behaviors related to situational fears and anxiety around adults do not appear to carry the same risk.”

The article does give examples of said behaviors but the gist of the article is the increased isolation of younger people has increased the likelihood of social anxiety disorders later on in their adult life. We already had isolation issues due to our increased reliance on the internet but we now have Covid 19. It’s reasonable to be fearful of the consequences of Covid, it’s a serious issue. The kids? They were out of school for months, many places don’t have group activities (sports, school functions, dances) and they are bombarded constantly with fear.

The poke for millions of people = Anxiety

Enter environmental issues, social issues, body issues, racial issues, gender issues… on and on and on and on. It’s no wonder kids are starting to isolate, what else are they supposed to do? They don’t have the resources, material and emotional to handle things any other way. Yes, they do have adults in their life that are supposed to help but where are we? Online in the social justice war arguing with anon people on twitter?

Maybe that isn’t you and that’s great, your kids are still exposed to toxic levels of information that are shaping their perception of others and the outside world. We used to be able to shield them better, now? They have access to everything instantly, it’s a scary new world and they lack the experience and wisdom to navigate it. Of course their anxiety is spiking. There are no easy answers here, no matter what though you have to keep talking to your kids and providing them a safe place to talk about their fears. In the end that’s one of the best things you can do, for them and for you.

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Back to School – Covid and Anxiety

Are you a parent? Do you have younger siblings? Are you an aunt or an uncle? Chances are you have kids in your life at some level. If you suffer from anxiety you are keenly aware of some of the debilitating issues that comes with it. You are also uniquely qualified to help those kids BECAUSE you have anxiety.

If you recall your school days (or maybe you’re still, there) there are all sorts of social pressures around your peer’s. I’m not professing to understand the modern teenager at 50, but I have kids I do know what they go through. Things are different now, kids don’t meet at the mall (hi all my Gen X friends, remember those days? See you at orange Julius) they meet online.

The digital world is cruel, people hide in anonymity with screen names and post messages to others they would never say to someone’s face. Remove the adult filter and kids are worse. On top of that teenagers are starting to experience hormonal shifts that come with puberty and these swings can amplify anxiety.

Will the poke be mandatory?

On top of that, kids today are more tapped into the real world because they are online so much. Mass shootings? Your teenager knows all about it. Opioid epidemic? Your kids have seen it online. All of this can trigger anxiety and if you have it and these are your children its likely they inherited some of their issues from you.

There is no “fix all” but there are 3 important things you can do with kids of any age that will help them navigate anxiety.

  1. Talk to them: I know every says talk to your kids. Really take the time to do this, particularly on current events. Its critical they have a venue other than their peers to talk about the issue.
  2. Invest in what they love. If your kid is a gamer, try playing some games yourself. If your kid is a soccer player, take them to the soccer field. Whatever they are into, start investing your time into it too.
  3. Listen and watch them when they are online: This is critical as so much interaction happens online now.

School is right around the corner and kids will get anxiety. Start building the foundation now so if needed you can help the child later. You can do this; they are totally worth it!

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Eviction Anxiety

So we have another residual effect of Covid in the U.S. Evictions. For my international readers what happened in the U.S. in many states is the local authorities issued moratoriums on evictions because people were not allowed to work. Simply put, a landlord could not evict you from the rental property, period. Didn’t matter the circumstance, so even if you were working and chose not to pay your rent you were safe. The problem was and is the lifting of the ban. Like most government reactions they rarely think things out.

What did they think was going to happen? Landlords might not be wonderful people (although the vast majority are) but they have legit businesses to run. Property taxes stop? No, water bills? Electricity? So governments banned evictions and left themselves in the horrible position to someday have to lift them. So we are at that point now and people are of course anxious. It should come as no surprise, if you don’t pay your rent you will be kicked out. We aren’t socialist yet in the U.S. so you don’t get to live for free.

The correct solution would have been to offer relief to the landlords so they could recoup some of the rent missed, with the caveat that by accepting the money they grant an additional grace period for people to start paying rent. That didn’t happen so now landlords in afflicted areas are going to start eviction proceedings and rightfully so.

Vote
Voting for the same people and the same party and expecting different results is insane.

It’s one of the example of how a lockdown is bad policy. You lockdown 100% of the people you get bad economic outcomes. Sure something had to be done at the time but the months on end, in some parts of the U.S. a year or more was way too extreme. It speaks to the lack of intelligent application of policy as well. Once the vaccine became available you vaccinate the most vulnerable first and work backward. This prevents death, which is paramount and then allows companies to reopen so people can earn wages to, you know pay their bills.

The fear mongering was to profitable I suppose and in the end who is getting hurt here? The poor. They don’t have the resources to survive prolonged periods for economic shutdown imposed by a government presiding over essentially fear porn in the media. The poor are the ones who will be evicted first, they will be the ones who are destitute. It is a disservice to them as vulnerable citizens to have allowed this economic shutdown to go on for so long.

Many of them are now living in fear of homelessness. The problem is too big to solve by the government writing a check and so now the only other option is to somehow villainize the landlord for being “greedy”. You know the company or person who hasn’t been paid in a year, ya they are greedy because they want rent they are owed. It’s a huge mess and an unnecessary one. Again, had government (Local, State, and Federal) created more opportunities for landlords to get relieve there wouldn’t be this rush to evict.

This is an example of why I do not trust government and why I despise legacy media. They allowed fear to dictate good decisions and now some of our must vulnerable citizens will be harmed.

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Some important facts to remember about our current inflation

So I have talked about it on my blog and it is the next boogie man to present itself which is great news for institutional media. They have to have something to scare you with, Trump is gone, Covid is clearing up (WATCH OUT FOR VAIRANTS!!!!!) and there are no wars so we get inflation. Should you be concerned about inflation? Yes, on a scale of 1-10? 3 -4. Inflation kills economies over the long term if (a big if) wages stagnate. If inflation is 3% annual and wages increase 2.5% annual your net to consumer is .5%. In one year that’s survivable. Over 10 years? That’s a problem.

Here are a couple of quick facts to remember about the current inflation situation in the U.S.

  1. The Economy was forced to slow down: We can argue why Walmart was open but local store X wasn’t, or why healthy people were precluded from doing what they want. We can’t argue that government closures and shutdowns due to covid had an adverse effect on production.
  2. Production decreased due to Item 1: Less cars were made, saw mills didn’t produce boards, ammunition production was decreased. And on and on…. The shutdown created a negative production situation as demand did not decrease concurrently due to government stimulus.
  3. Money still flowed: Yes, many people lost their jobs, but government printed money to subsidize those losses. So you had some money, or the same (maybe you worked from home) but you had less places to spend that money.
Maybe Bitcoin is the answer?

So what you have is companies forced to close and the economy slowed. This wasn’t part of the natural business cycle. As a result, less goods were produced, and people lost work, and government printed more money to get to those people. It’s the perfect scenario for short term inflation. Want another example? More people are on the roads now that things have opened up, gas prices go up. Why? Because refining gas was slowed during the pandemic because people weren’t traveling.

Again these are all short to mid-term issues which should begin to clear in the “new normal” my guess is by the start of the 4th qtr. (10.1.21) at the latest. Now anything can happen from now until then. A war, another pandemic, a massive oil spill, political upheaval so there are no guarantees. That said the underlying driver of capitalism is still very powerful, supply and demand. I want something, you have it we make a deal.

Inflation is the new boogey man, many of my younger readers have never experienced it or have read about it in the abstract in places like Venezuela or Liberia. It’s highly unlikely that, that kind of long term sustained inflation hits western economies because of supply and demand inherent in capitalism. Could it happen? Yes, if one of the 3 items on my list continues to happen, even in small doses. Don’t be pulled into the fear mongering, it is a click driver and most rational people can see that. Inflation is here yes, is the world ending because of it? No

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Anxiety – Tips for coping with reopening when you have a chronic illness

Generally, I do 1-2 articles on Anxiety a week since I started this blog. I have covered the topic pretty extensively and like any subject there comes a point as a writer that you run the risk of redundancy. Keeping that in mind there is value in reinforcing good concepts particularly with anxiety. Today we are going to reference an article here that gives you 8 tips for coping with reopening when you have a chronic illness

From the article: “With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changing mask requirements and states easing restrictions, it’s easy to feel like we’re overreacting. It’s important to remember in times like this, however, that dealing with our anxieties is vital.”

The article covers several good tips on how to cope with our new reality. It’s highly likely you have seen similar tips in your travels before. It’s never a bad thing to reinforce positive inputs when you have anxiety. As an example the article talks about setting boundaries which is a very tricky skill to master. Right now might be the best time in your life to start setting firm boundaries as most people will understand that post Covid things are still dicey for many people.

Did you get the poke ?

We don’t normally shift this quickly as humans, particularly ones with Anxiety. For over a year we heard the constant drum beat of fear. “WEAR A MASK!!!!!” “GET VACCINATED” everywhere you looked someone was shouting something about Covid and how you should be acting then POOF! The CDC issues a new edict and the masks are off and everything is back to normal. This is a huge trigger for some people, maybe you are one of them.

Slow down, take your time and focus on priority situations first. Work is a must, groceries, utilities, helping family. Focus on the most important things in your life first, get into a rhythm under our new reality and over time you can start incorporating new/old events into your life. Maybe your archery club is opening up again? Is the dog park open? Kids back in after school sports? On and on. You don’t have to jump back into everything right away.

Everyone is in the same boat and everyone has to get back in on their terms. Don’t let others around you foster emotional responses based on their actions. I might be fine with taking off my mask and going to the store, you might not be there yet and that’s okay. You are doing awesome, one day at a time.

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For those with Anxiety: How to tell if you have a great boss

If you are functioning with Anxiety bravo you are doing well. Given how crap the world has become with politics, covid on and on it’s a wonder sometimes any of us get out of bed. If you are now back to work (in the states) or have been going to work all along, or if you are in the midst of a huge surge like our friends in India are enduring you likely still have to deal with work stress. Number 1 cause of work stress? Bad Bosses, coworkers are a close second.

If you have a bad boss you already know it, but how do you tell if you have a great boss? There are of course so many in-between that make up the vast majority of work bosses. Everyone has good and bad days you have to understand that. Good bosses? They are out there and that ideally the norm for all of us, great bosses however do 2 things regularly. They ask the two questions below, with the following elaboration…

  1. “How you doing” – This isn’t just the passing in the hall greeting this is them coming to your work area and asking you. They elaborate by asking about your family, your personal hobbies (if they know it). This may seem like a superficial attempt to become your buddy and it may be but a boss that takes the time to ask this and does so consistently does so because they genuinely care about you. Sure it might be that they care you are doing well to better your work performance but they still care.
  2. “How can I help you win” – This, in context to the first question is in all candor likely in reference to winning at work. A great boss understands that in order for you to be very successful at work you have to be doing well in all facets of your life. This question may seem odd and again self-serving to the person asking but anyone that wants to help you win, even if it benefits them as well is an asset that you want to nurture.

Don’t confuse these two questions with some notion of attaining a deep relationship with your boss where you are having BBQ’s together and your families hang out that’s likely not to happen. It is within the context of you doing well at work. A great boss cares about you as a whole person and asks these questions genuinely to help and make your life better. As someone with Anxiety that is a huge win, we need more people in our lives that want to make things better for us, even if it means they gain as well. I’ll take all the positives I can get.

So ask yourself, when was the last time your boss asked you either of these questions? Do they ask regularly?

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The new CDC guidelines and your Anxiety

In the U.S. we are at a major turning point in the fight against Covid. The CDC has released new guidelines regarding masks and when and whom should wear it. This post isn’t going to delve into the arguments for or against mask wearing, each side has valid points to make. I am also no going to get into the politics, how the media has used the pandemic or anything else highly cynical and believe me there is plenty of meat on those bones to chew on. I am going to talk about the very real (and completely valid) anxiety associated with “getting back out there”

First let’s see what the CDC actually said: “Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” SOURCE

The key here is “Fully Vaccinated People”. If you have looked on the web over the last few days you would think everyone is now given the green light to go out and get back to “normal”. Again this post isn’t to argue for or against government mandates it’s to discuss anxiety issues around the new reality. People are going to be out and about without masks, some of those people won’t be vaccinated.

The Sun will come out again.

How exactly are you going to know if they are or are not? Will they need to carry a card? Have a symbol on their shirt designating them as vaccinated or non? The quick answer is it’s going to have to be on the honor system because in the U.S. we have a very potent law called HIPAA. This law, unless changed, prohibits your personal medical information from being released without your consent.

Here in lies the trap for people with anxiety. Maybe you felt better or less anxious when people wore masks. Maybe you felt compelled yourself to wear one even though you did not have covid and were not at a high risk of getting it. You are now thrust back into a situation pre covid but with covid knowledge. More accurately, for the last year you have been bludgeoned by media, friends, family, politicians on Covid.

Its omnipresent and now the CDC says mask mandates can be lifted. It’s okay to be anxious, it’s okay to still wear a mask if you want to, it’s okay to still be extremely cautious. What isn’t okay is if you chose to inflict those feelings on other people who, don’t feel the same way. What if someone isn’t wearing a mask or social distancing what will you say or do now that the CDC says it’s okay? Will you demand proof of vaccination? What if the person refuses or worse challenges your authority to even ask?

This is going to be a tense period for many of you, the best possible way to combat covid anxiety is to get vaccinated. Minimally you’ll know you’ve done everything you can to protect yourself. You can’t make other people do anything, particularly with government mandates evaporating daily. You are going to have to find a way to navigate back into the old normal, with Covid fears hammered into your head.

You can do it, I think you are doing awesome as it is and you just need to take this one encounter at a time, one day at a time. Hang in there.

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