Notes From the
Laurie Tirtanadi, RN, MS, ARNP
Helpful tips, health notes and self care. Check back often!
Finding joy in your everyday life can bring increased contentment and satisfaction. This can help protect and enhance your health. Joy is found in the ordinary minutes of your life.
Take a minute to listen to and appreciate the laughter of children playing or the smile of a young baby. Take a minute to sit on a step and listen to the pouring rain outside a window. Take a minute to talk to a distant relative on the phone. Take a minute to slowly taste each morsel of food as you eat dinner. Take a minute to find joy in your life. ~ 11/22/20
Want to know a secret? The secret to higher levels of happiness, more contacts with people and lower levels of depression and loneliness? The key is volunteering. Volunteering can give a teen a chance to try out an interest in a possible career. Volunteering with a vulnerable population can be the highlight of their day and yours. Certainly, volunteering during COVID-19 is challenging but brainstorming for ideas is always on the table.
Committing even one to two hours per week benefits you and the organization. Volunteering with an organization you support benefits the community and you will get back more than ever imagined. So which organization will you pick? ~ 5/16/21
Ever read a fiction book and become so involved the time just gets away? The outside world recedes within the pages of the book and the story becomes your world? When you read a book, you become emotionally involved with the characters. In essence, you share their struggles and triumphs. You become empathetic to the characters in the book, to their humanity. Fiction can help us understand our own experience in life. There are many obvious benefits to reading, but the less obvious ones include reducing stress and helping us wind down prior to sleep. Regular reading can fight depressive symptoms. Reading helps teenagers develop a deeper appreciation into becoming an adult. Regular reading also helps older adults fight cognitive decline. Books are an invaluable resource. Check out your favorite library! What will you choose to read next? The possibilities are endless. ~ 5/2/21
Paying it forward through random acts of kindness has been shown to increase happiness. How is this possible? It gives one the feeling of making a difference and in return, receiving appreciation and gratefulness. To be the most effective, it should be within an existing relationship or community. Need a push? Pay for a drink for the person in line behind you. Cook a meal for a neighbor. Drive a friend to an appointment. Volunteer for an organization of interest. Who knows, maybe someone will pay it forward to you! ~ 3/21/21
What is happiness? Happiness is living with thought and purpose enhanced by community with a willingness to learn. Happiness is meaningless without disappointment as this allows us to stretch and grow. Actions towards intentions other than happiness makes us, well, happy. Write a letter of gratitude weekly to others.
Dream of a future for yourself and then make a plan of action towards that dream. Or simply sit back look around and truly appreciate all the people in your life. It takes work to increase happiness, but it may be the most gratifying and enjoyable work you will ever do. ~ 6/13/21
Music is essential to so many people in their daily lives. We listen to music at home, in the car, at work, with friends and with family. Listening to music resonates on a different emotional level for each individual person. People smile, laugh, shed tears and express a variety of emotions when listening to music.
Music can help to decrease stress, enhance creativity and ease depression and anxiety. Do you have a favorite song when you need cheering up?
Or do you like to sing in the shower when you are in a stupendously happy mood? Emotion is an integral part in experiencing music in any of its myriad forms. ~ 5/30/21
Do you feel like there is not enough time in your day? Never have a chance to listen to music, watch a sunset from your deck or relax in a bath? When life gets busy and you get buried in work, things tend to pile up leaving you feeling tired and stressed. Time management can help you relax, de-stress and breathe more freely. How is this possible you wonder? Glad you asked! Here are some areas to help you manage your time.
1. Understand your personal time management style. Are you a procrastinator or do write then lose lists? These are obstacles to achieving time management goals.
2. Get rid of to-do lists as they don’t take into account what matters most to you.
3. Identify the 3 things most important to you and work on them daily.
4. Have a place for everything and everything in its place.
5. Be protective of your time. Facebook is fun but you know what’s more fun? Keeping up with your real in-person family and friends. Just think of all the things you could do with the precious time you find! ~ 5/23/21
Ever had someone ask you a question and the answer was on the tip of your tongue? You can almost remember it but just can’t. Then you wake up at 3 am knowing the exact answer! You just had an “aha” moment. “Aha” moments are flashes of insight, they are moments of sudden realization, inspiration, recognition, or comprehension.
People experience “aha” moments as fun since they seem to come out of nowhere. In fact, your unconscious brain has been working to come up with the answer the whole time! The next time you are working on a problem and you can’t seem to get close to an answer. Set it aside. Your brain will continue to work on it without you even being aware. ~ 5/9/21
Resilience. What a cool word! It’s like a shiny coat of armor wrapped around you. Resilience helps us easily bounce back from challenges. Who wouldn’t want more resilience? Here are some ways to build resilience. Choose to believe in yourself. Recognize life doesn’t always go as planned, so be creative and go for Plan B. Choose to look for the good in every situation, on purpose. Choose to make good sleep and exercise part of your daily life. Choose to be compassionate with yourself. It is ok to feel whatever you feel. Choose to draw strength from close friends and family. Finally, look in the mirror and laugh with the person looking at you. ~ 4/11/21
The birds are chirping, the cherry blossom trees are blooming and early spring flowers are popping up out of the ground. Signs of spring are all around us. It just feels magical. Why does spring feel so uplifting? Spring brings a sense of renewal and hope, very much like the tide is turning and new gifts are around every corner. Close your eyes and listen to the thunder the next time it comes. Savor a good piece of homemade apple pie. What about sitting on the porch and gabbing with a neighbor sitting on their porch? Spring brings us outside, calms our weariness and helps to make us feels better. ~ 3/28/21
It was a really tough crowd. I tried cracking a joke but those 3 faces stared back at me with nary a smile or laugh. My kids told me none of my jokes were funny. I just rolled my eyes at them and tried again. One day, I will make them laugh. To this day, I am still trying. The benefits of laughter are wide-ranging. Laughter has been shown to help one learn something new and also to remember things. Humor helps build connections in relationships. Laughter is contagious and brings well-being in a community setting. Humor helps to decrease stress and may even boost your immune system. So let those jokes rip or see the quirky side of things. What have you got to lose? Certainly not your sense of humor! ~ 3/14/21
Sleep is essential to our life. Along with regular exercise, nutritious food and social connection, sleep is one of the building blocks for awesome physical and mental health. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Soak up the sun for 15 minutes in the morning. Exercise most days of the week. Have your favorite caffeinated beverage before 5pm. Keep your bedroom between 65 and 75 degrees. Take a warm relaxing bath before bed. Turn off all screens an hour prior to bedtime. We spend a third of our life in sleep and tending proactively to our sleep habits can bring great benefits. ~ 3/7/21
Is there a writer or artist or musician in you? Journaling is a proven coping mechanism that helps one reflect on thoughts and feelings. If done regularly, this helps process feelings, decrease anxiety, increase self-reflection and build well-being. In effect, the act of journaling allows subconscious thoughts to bubble up.
There are different ways of journaling. Visual journaling uses mixed media in their journaling. For example, artists putting paint to a canvas. Musical Journaling is for musicians. Most are familiar with the written journaling. Whatever form of journaling one uses can help you make lemonade out of lemons life has been throwing lately. So pull out your pen or paintbrush or violin! ~ 2/28/21
Meaningful emotional connections are a basic human need and are more important than ever during these times. Social media and social distancing make it harder to connect with others. We connect, participate, and interact with other’s joy, worries, happiness, sadness, angst, etc. Connections are a two-way street and in the process we each provide emotional support to the other. The deepest foundation of connection is family and friendship. Make it a habit to call a different person twice a week. Have an outdoor neighborhood hangout, just keep social distancing and masking in mind. Encourage several friends to sign up with you for a virtual class of interest. Host a digital dinner party and include a virtual cooking lesson of one of the dishes. Make the most in connecting with others in a positive way. ~ 2/14/21
Have you noticed the days are getting longer and the sun is setting an hour later now? Each evening, right on schedule the sun sets every single day. We can count on it. Have you ever taken a few moments to watch the sunset? It is calming and beautiful. It has also been shown to put one in a good mood. It gives one a reason to go outside for a walk to see the sun set. Watching a sunset can influence a creative person and help the wired person slow down. Watching a sunset can give us an appreciation for the beauty of our Earth. There is no time like the present to experience the magic of a sunset. ~ 2/7/21
It’s unquestionably winter. Cold and dreary outside. It rains and rains and rains. We continue to wear masks, social distance and avoid crowds. One absolutely, scrumptious thing about this time of year is soup. Soups are your quintessential wintertime comfort food.
Our brains seem to connect hot soup with physical or social warmth which encourages connections with others. Depending upon the soup, they can be nutritious when loaded with veggies.
Close your eyes and remember tasting your favorite soup and smelling fresh baked bread at the dinner table. Wasn’t that just yummy! ~ 1/24/21
I am tired. It is a phrase I am hearing repeatedly from people around me. I am tired. What it represents is emotional burnout. Burnout from having to deal with one devastating event on top of another without resolution from the one before. It feels never ending and the usual coping skills are not as effective. First, it is important to recognize how you are feeling. Next, reframe your thinking. Remind yourself of your purpose. For example, why are you wearing a mask in public? To protect others. Third, try to find humor and laughter. Laughter releases endorphins and reduces stress hormones. This helps you feel better. So, let loose on the corny jokes. And last, connect in any way possible with others. Be proactive, make the call to those who live alone. It is a win-win for everyone. ~ 1/17/21
We’ve all heard the disheartening news recently. How do we cope and process this? Periodically unplug from all news and social media for as little as 15 minutes at a time. Engage in any physical activity that will take your mind off it. Enjoy walking – wonderful! Love meditation – great! Even in bad situations there is some good, so look for the good. If your reaction to this disheartening news is causing considerable distress, seek out someone to talk to and help you through this. ~ 1/10/21
Do you find everyone in your house is on their own personal screen? Families should discuss and decide what is the appropriate amount of screen time, so everyone is on the same page.
Sharing moments together, playing together, talking and laughing together, strengthens bonds. Plan a goofy movie night on the weekend. Make funny looking cookies in the kitchen with everyone.
Bring back game night. Boards games bring out the competitive spirit! Take evening walks to watch the sunset and feel the crisp air. Remember to leave phones at home!! ~ 12/24/20
Laughter is a natural way to boost your mood and reduce stress. Giggling, chuckling, cackling, snickering and laughing all help to relax your muscles, boost your immune system, decrease your heart rate and blood pressure and reduce stress hormones. Giggling and laughing with another person helps to strengthen relationships. Giggling with other people is contagious. Watch several children in a room and one starts to giggle, pretty soon they are all giggling and rolling around on the floor. You can encourage laughter by watching a funny podcast or comedian, following a funny meme account, playing with your pets (I am not sure how many times I have laughed at my cat pouncing on the red laser dot moving across the floor) and also a family game night. Whatever you choose, always start it with a smile on your face and it is guaranteed to progress into laughter. Happy giggling! ~ 12/13/20
Want to rid yourself of unpleasant feelings? Boost your mood? Reduce stress in your life? Spend time in the outdoors? Well, I have just the thing. Walking for relaxation. The best part is it is absolutely free.
Take a brisk 20 minute walk every other day or a leisurely 45 minute stroll twice a week. Do a solo walk for some alone time or bring a partner for laughs and giggles. Don’t forget to bring your mask! Make it a habit. Put it on your calendar. Just imagine the benefits. ~ 12/6/20
What is gratitude? Gratitude is being thankful for what is valuable and meaningful to you. It actually is very good for your health.
Practicing gratitude can bring you a sense a calmness and peace by helping to appreciate the positive things in life. So choose to savor every bite to eat. Bask in the sunshine when you step outside in the morning. Count your blessings before you sleep at night. And enjoy the smell of fresh brewed coffee when you wake in morning. ~ 11/15/20
We all know remote learning can have its challenges but amazingly there are some students who are finding surprise benefits and thriving! Why is this? This break from the in-person classroom may shine a light on some invisible benefits encouraging success. First, the ability to self-pace allows students to manage their own schedule so they can take small breaks to exercise, eat snacks or even rest. Second, pre-March jam-packed schedules have become more open. Making time for dreaming, thinking or even being plain bored. Third, some kids have varying levels of social anxiety and now they feel free to make their voices heard. Fourth, Kids are able to get more sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends teens get 8-10 hours. ~ 11/1/20
One thing we are all experiencing to some degree is stress. Beyond our normal everyday stress, we now have to deal with COVID-19, changing school schedules and all the ramifications thereof. So we especially need a good foundation of mouth-watering nutrition, dream-filled sleep, relaxing after-dinner walks.
Make sure to plan something every day that you can look forward to – no matter how small. Have time every day for friends and family to talk and laugh with. However, don’t hesitate to reach out if stress becomes too much. ~ Laurie Tirtanadi, RN, MS, ARNP | Oct 18, 2020