Coming out of the coronavirus pandemic we’re well aware of restrictions designed to prevent the spread of this deadly virus, and we’ve been fortunate to have modern medicine to help us. But in sixteenth-century Europe a second, deadly round of plague was spreading like wildfire and city officials across Europe desperately sought methods of prevention against the fearsome epidemic.
On this day (9 March) in 1562, the authorities in Naples believed that one way to battle against the spread of the disease was to ban kissing in public. They took the law so seriously that couples caught kissing could be punished by death.
It wasn’t the first time that a city had enforced such a strict law on public displays of affection. In 1439, Henry VI banned kissing in England in another attempt to prevent infection from spreading. People refused to accept the ban and it was subsequently lifted. Bans of this nature were also imposed during more modern times. In 1910, kissing was banned at railway stations in France, in the belief that lovers, family and friends saying their goodbyes caused delays to the train service. In 1982, kissing for ‘pleasure’ was outlawed in Iran, and similarly in 1992 students at Qingdao Binhai University in China were prevented from openly displaying any form of affection, including holding hands or sharing earphones. Most recently in 2003, to the horror of the general public, a law was passed in Moscow enforcing a ban on kissing in public, imposed on all members of society. This was intended to raise levels of public morality. People of Moscow defied the ban by kissing complete strangers and the proposed law was eventually abandoned. Source
It’s easy to feel exhausted in January, not least because of post-Christmas lethargy, the chilly weather, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. So, if you’re suffering from winter weariness, then this post is for you. Here are some tips I’ve picked up to help get your energy back and defeat winter fatigue.
Throw your curtains open as soon as you wake up and get as much light as you can during the day, as this will help you sleep and recharge. Also, get out in the open air as much as possible during the daylight hours.
Do the things that bring you joy, because the lack of positive vibes adds to stress and tiredness. Be as sociable as possible because isolation can also cause you to feel tired. Do what makes you smile, laugh, or simply feel good.
Be careful what you eat. Carbohydrates and sugar make you feel less lively and lead to fluctuating sugar and energy levels. Eat plenty of heathy foods and avoid fatty food during the evening as these interfere with sleep. Consider food supplements and vitamins, see here. An alcoholic nightcap might seem tempting, but this can interfere with sleep quality causing early waking.
Find your exercise sweet spot, do what you can and not what you can’t. Exercise is always beneficial, but beware overdoing it and making yourself more tired. Be sensitive to your body.
Other things that can help are staying hydrated, taking time to do breathing exercises (apps are available), and keeping a gratitude journal. All these things can help calm our minds, promote a positive mood, and enhance motivation.
We live in challenging times, but these are things we can do to help us cope.
Yes, I know children don’t have to wear face masks in the UK, but Freddy put his on recently and I’m really pleased with this photo!
Despite the UK government being very slow to mandate face mask wearing, it’s now become a feature of life. Of course, there are those who are exempt, but this seems to be widely abused. Also, many people have selfishly given up wearing face masks, forgetting that wearing one is a selfless act to protect others.
The lifting of coronavirus restrictions, although delayed, are now on the horizon, but it’s likely that I’ll continue to wear mine in certain situations – especially in the winter when coughs and colds spread easily.
Will you continue to wear your face mask after the restrictions have been lifted?
Having moved away from the checkout at Lidl recently, I noticed two large boxes of assorted fruit and vegetables in the corner. They were out of the way and easily missed, but a bargain at only £1.50 a box.
I didn’t get one at the time, but I might buy one quite often as they’re such good value. Something to check out before shopping, rather than after. It’s good that food which otherwise might go to waste is being used in this way.
One blemish on an apple doesn’t mean you throw the whole apple away, as I keep telling my children.
Note: If you shop at Lidl regularly, don’t forget to get their app to save money and get great offers.
This grounding exercise is really helpful if you’re anxious or feeling overwhelmed by life. It can be used to keep you alert, to return to the present after some fantasy or imaging, or as a way of dealing with negative experiences.
Sit upright in a supportive chair, and take a few deep breaths.
Become aware of the soles of your feet in contact with the floor.
Guide your attention to the chair, feel it touching your body.
Tell yourself, ‘I am safe, and no harm is happening to me’.
Become aware of what you hear around you, continuing to feel your feet in contact with the floor.
Become aware of what you see around you that is pleasant and interesting.
Remind yourself that you are safe, and stay aware of your feet on the ground.
Now, move your focus to what is happening in your body. Remain aware of your feet on the ground, and remind yourself that you are safe.
Become aware of any tension in your body.
Become aware of any emotions related to that tension.
Still feel the soles of your feet on the ground, remember you are safe.
Finally, move your awareness to the most relaxed place in your body and remain in your chair for as long as you need. You then might like to move into a more comfortable place and listen to some relaxing music.
Note: Breathing apps can also be helpful, see here.
I guess we’ve all been finding life difficult during the ongoing pandemic; possibly feeling overwhelmed and sometimes emotional, but maybe just meh!
A friend shared this recently, and (like an article last year) it rang a bell with me, and helped me understand why I’m feeling like I am in April 2021 (over a year into the pandemic). Could the neglected middle child of mental health, one that can dull your motivation and focus, be the dominant emotion of 2021?
Committing (at the start of 2021) to writing and publishing at least one blog post a day has reinforced an important life lesson. Don’t let perfectionism rule you!
Give everything your best shot, but know when to stop. Some things you can go back and change, at least I can go back and edit blog posts (for example). But some things you can’t, and you just have to accept that. It’s an important lesson to teach our children.
Perfectionists strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unattainable goals, and measure their self-worth by productivity and accomplishment. Pressuring oneself to achieve unrealistic goals inevitably sets the person up for disappointment. Perfectionists tend to be harsh critics of themselves when they fail to meet their expectations. Source
Perfectionism can (of course) be both positive and negative, but it often drives people to be concerned with achieving unattainable ideals or unrealistic goals, leading to a whole host of mental health problems.
We need to learn the lesson of Islamic rugs and knock the edge off our perfectionism. Flaws in Persian carpets are no accident:
In many handmade Persian rugs and carpets you will discover [a] deliberate mistake. Followers of Islam believe only Allah makes things perfectly, and therefore to weave a perfect rug or carpet would be an offence to Allah. The original deliberate mistake is usually made in the execution of the pattern of the rug and not in the dying of the wool or silk, and certainly not the quality of the weaving. Genuine deliberate mistakes in oriental rugs and carpets may be very difficult to spot and can be as subtle as a different colour used in a flower petal.Source
Finally, I hope you enjoy my eclectic and imperfect blog posts.
Today (Sunday 7 March 2021) marks 250 days since my retirement, another appropriate moment to take stock and reflect, as I wrote a similar post after 100 days. In many ways not much has changed because of the coronavirus restrictions, which have thrown so many people’s plans into disarray for a year now.
We’re now very well settled in our new house and life, but still have jobs to finalise and boxes in the loft to sort out – as we did after 100 days! We were hoping for time in January and February 2021 to get many of these jobs done, but we’ve been home schooling Freddy and Matilda because of coronavirus lockdown. This has been very draining for all of us. They restart school tomorrow (Monday 8 March).
Pollyanna continues to lose opportunities to make new friends and meet old friends, but we’re pleased she has a confirmed nursery place (at the same school Freddy and Matilda attend) in September 2021.
I’m continuing to look after my health, and have had the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. I’ve taken up running again, but this isn’t easy at my age (67 in a few months) and after a three year break, although I’m already starting to reap the benefits and I’m determined to run regularly again.
Overall, we’re continuing to move on, settling into our new routines, and actively building our new life together as a family. It’s just taking much longer than we expected or intended.
To say I was excited when I received my vaccination appointment would be an understatement.
However, you would be wrong to think I’ve been living in fear since March 2020, although I’ve had a measure of concern because of my age, susceptibility to chest infections, and underlying asthma (although well-controlled). And, even though I’m generally fit and healthy, I’ve been scrupulous in protecting myself and my family from coronavirus.
Our surgery was really well organised, and the longest wait was fifteen minutes afterwards (in a marquee) to make sure I was OK. I received my first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and I’ll get my second dose in twelve weeks time.
I do encourage you to have the coronavirus vaccine when your turn comes, please ignore all the rubbish that’s spoken and written about them.
The coronavirus vaccines are based on decades of scientific progress and practice. Yes, the development has been speeded up because we’re in a crisis, but scientific corners haven’t been cut. Remember, the flu vaccine is a new vaccine every year, and is based on the same scientific foundations. Be grateful for the 24/7 commitment to this cause, and please don’t spread misinformation. See here.
As a friend pointed out: The only corners that have been cut are the waiting for funding for each step through the process (it’s been made available immediately instead of waiting until the next financial period or whatever), and the hunt for a suitable selection of people to test the vaccine on (they have been inundated with volunteers). It just shows what can be done when there is the motivation.