April 7, 2020 Moonshine Minutes
#1 Welcome to another week’s kickoff of Moonshine Minutes, I’m Becca Loux, reporter and editor for the Ink.
As we round the corner on week three of fully governor-mandated isolation, your Tahoe/Truckee independent newspaper is focused on getting answers and acting as a community convener. This Thursday, we are hosting a Zoom conference call to discuss the issue of visitors to the area escaping the confines of the city during this time of uncertainty and potentially constricting our already limited resources and infrastructure. Email email@example.com to join the conversation. That discussion will be followed by our print publication, on stands next Monday.
In a special for Moonshine, South Lake-based owner and clinical director of A Balanced Life Lindsay Simon shared her best tips for battling both fear and anxiety during this uncertain time.
First off, Simon says it’s most important to distinguish between anxiety and fear. “Anxiety is irrational future-oriented thinking based on imagined worst case scenarios … Fear is worry about a situation that is happening in the here and now based on actual events and evidence.”
An example of anxiety would be: “What if this is the apocalypse and everyone starts killing each other and there’s not enough toilet paper?”
Fear tells us, instead: “It seems like there are a lot of people panicking and now I might not be able to buy toilet paper for a week or two until the stores are able to re-stock.”
Anxiety says: “What if the virus comes and we all die?”
Fear takes the more reasoned approach: “So far, the statistics show that 80% of the people who get infected have mild symptoms, most people who get it will recover, and if we use social distancing and listen to the CDC and WHO guidelines about quarantining, we can slow the curve of this pandemic and there will be enough hospital beds for the people that will need them. I can do my part to help with this by working from home and washing my hands in accordance to the CDC guidelines.”
Simon said that existing in an anxiety-ridden state releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and when these are flowing, our immune system shuts down. When our body senses a threat, it deprioritizes fighting off infections. Thus, anxiety actually increases your risk of not being able to fight off the virus.
So what can you do? Here are some of Simon’s top tips to help reduce anxiety and manage the fear in this current situation.
- Practice compassion. Validate yourself and others for feeling that this is a scary time can help reduce anxiety.
- Radical Acceptance: Simon suggests physically writing down a list of what aspects of this situation and how it is affecting you are in your control and out of your control. Learn to radically accept those that are out of your control.
- Practice relaxation and mindfulness strategies by focusing on the here and now rather than spinning out about the future. Focus on your five senses. Practice calm belly-breathing techniques and guided relaxations or meditations.
- Exercise. Without access to group classes, the gym, or the ski hill, you can still go for walks or do at-home exercises. Simon recommends Fiton, a free exercise app you can do from home with no equipment. Connect with friends via technology to share workouts.
- Simon asks us to “challenge irrational, unhelpful “what-if” thinking to come up with more helpful, rational thinking. Ask yourself questions like: What is the evidence for this? What is the chance of this actually happening? What might be the best-case scenario? Will any amount of worry change the outcome? What would I tell a friend to make them feel better if they said this to me?”
- Practice gratitude. Simon reminds us, “neurons that fire together, wire together, so our habitual thinking creates pathways that our brain will unconsciously repeat. If we actively focus on appreciating what we have in the here and now, we can start to create positive thinking pathways that lead to less stress and more physical and emotional health and happiness.” She recommends a gratitude journal in which you add three things each evening you’re grateful for, as well as why you are grateful for them.
- Engage in counseling. If you feel you need the help from a licensed professional therapist to help with anxiety, depression, stress, or relationship problems that are arising or exacerbated during this difficult time, use digital tools to connect with a therapist or tele-therapy.
Connect with Lindsay at abalancedlifetahoe.com.
As we prepare for an estimated spike in cases these next few days, it’s more important than ever to think about our emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Breathe in, breathe out, Tahoe, because we are still at the top of the gnarly run that is the pandemic of the novel coronavirus, and we may still not be able to see the bottom.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s tool that predicts the peak resource-use date for each state and country is currently projecting April 14 as that peak for California, April 18 in Nevada. And in an interview here on KTKE last week, Tahoe Forest Health System CEO Harry Weis said: “We’re seeing the infection rate in ski towns in many cases is much higher than a statewide infection rate or a national infection rate. And we believe that to be true in the Truckee area … we could have seven to ten times higher infection rate in this region than in California in general.”
Our team’s reporting currently focuses on following up on this estimate. As Moonshine continues to ask the tough questions of county and municipal governments, hospitals, business aid resources, and emergency responders, you play a role in fueling our work. Join at moonshineink.com/contribute.
And if you have a message for the community during these tough times, or a special offer from your business you want to promote, we are offering discounted bulletin spaces in our upcoming print edition’s new Community Corkboard.
That’s all for your Tuesday Moonshine Minutes, Tahoe, so until next time, stay safe and sane, share confirmed information, and as always, look for your moments of zen.