Bacalao, and that little ‘bugger’ Corona gave me an opportunity!

Who would have thought the post about the outbreak of Coronavirus last January would have quickly lead to our social distancing and obsessive cleaning, and toilet paper hoarding. Our sense of trying to make sense of economic disaster, among other conspiracy theories, are all seemingly science fiction now come to life and talk of an Orwellian “1984”. All because of microscopic Coronavirus CoVID-19. And this my friends is NO JOKE.

March was national month in the U.S. for Colorectal Cancer, Kidney Disease, Nutrition, and Tuberculosis, and on the mental health side, awareness for self-harm. In the U.K. this was the month for Ovarian and Prostate Cancer. And internationally, March was Red Cross Month… a critical need at this point in time. Around the world we are seeing short-staffed, overworked healthcare workers, hospitals, and we wonder what about us? Can we follow the rainbow, as we continue to build on building health literacy about disease, pandemics, and help people reduce complications to disease through health education such as continued ‘smoke free’ efforts?

Starting last March to the beginning of this year I was working with a past dental student to educate 5th and 6th graders about not starting to smoke, becoming smoke-free communities, appropriately talking about health benefits including healthy teeth (April is Oral Health month). This year it will be very different, as we will offer a similar lecture via e-learning.

On the bright side, it has given me the opportunity to tie-in the COVID-19 issue with people quitting now, for healthier outcomes. I am giving a lecture “Are you Ready to Quit?” to a group of over 50 participants, and I could not possibly find so many participants to ‘make time’ under normal living situations…sad but true. That little critter ‘corona’ virus has made us slow down….. so much so that we will all be at least 3 kilos overweight this summer for lack of exercise (even walking)!

Last March 2019 in a grammar school

So now for my opportunity to educate you about increasing your Omega-3s with some good fish (not just vitamins) as that Nordic favorite, Bacalao. Love that vowel-filled word “bakalao” (Bakaliaro – μπακαλιάρο in Greek) a salt-preserved fish. Now that we are all on lock-down, we are going in for those freezer reserves.. we pulled our salted friend from the freezer and de-salted it by emerging it into water overnight, just in time for the traditional meal for Independence Day in Greece March 25th. Baked in a “plaki” style dish [Recipe sample] or fried with a milky type dough [Argyro’s recipe], are great for Bacalao… but of course be mindful of any food allergies you have.

This year we added some extra spices in preparation including cayenne pepper, paprika, wild oregano (antiseptic qualities fight disease!)

Last year we were free of disease, and posted about free-floating flags and community health as signs of “allegiance” which is good and needed to survive in times of crisis. Living it now with COVID-19, a semi-unknown “enemy”. Little Coronavirus or COVID-19 caused a “butterfly effect” where we are forced to STOP and take a good look at ourselves, and for some of us plunge into our fundamental Maslow-type need for basic necessities. An article on what would Freud say about our hoarding of toilet paper in The New Yorker is priceless.

Two sides of a coin?

Sure we are all losing money, but think, some are making money (OK you can start on the conspiracy theories and the pharmaceutical industry!).

Too much screen time and kids in the house gaming all day. Also an opportunity to try something new, even something old like play cards or checkers, keep your distance.

Be vigilant about cleaning and leaving our shoes at the door. But also an opportunity to “gather within” and DO your Spring cleaning or go a bit beyond Spring cleaning….

Worries about having enough, but what about Less is more ? You can finally clean out all the food from your cabinets and freezers to make space for more. And if a neighbor doesn’t have spaghetti how about lending a hand? oh yes. And learning a new recipe online !

“I have nothing to do”, really ? All this off- or online stuff just makes for a brief adjustment. Maybe we all NEED to slow down. Busy streets are silent and we can actually hear the birds and see more fish 🐟 in non-murky waters now.

Take care of your plants. Try talking to your plants, walking up and down your balcony or a quick jog around the house …. note: if your plants talk back to you, then it is time to call in that mental health hotline!

Those poor pets are exhausted during lockdown…. dear Sylvie here had her daily fill of walking, she’s not even my dog! All animals teach us that they love unconditionally. She does not care if we pet her WITH or without our gloves …and yes it is important during this time to at least walk in open spaces at least 2 meters away (about 6.5 feet) for 30 minutes at least 4 times a week on good days (for many of us living in lockdown, SMS is required).

You will always be free, a temporary situation will not take that away. Most people get angry because they are inconvenienced or stuck in old patterns of thinking. They are impatient. Maybe it’s time to LEARN to adjust to change. Try Participating in Zoom or TEAMS e-platforms. On the other hand, get away from the screen and read some poetry about those little things that matter.

Your loved ones will make it through and better care for themselves during this time. So, you won’t be in perfect shape this summer or maybe you will with strengthening exercises like yoga and meditation. Self-care is vital and this includes getting support!

Take care of our personal health, as our governments try to adjust to constantly changing data, and the unknown. Enjoy that wine or beer in moderation (Mind the Cup!). Why not have it be a Corona a great Mexican beer as we don’t want them losing business! Do we?

Why not a Corona beer? To your health!

Cleaning House — beyond Spring cleaning

Springtime for most of us implies flowers, planting and gardening, May wreaths, a spectacular blossoming time of year.  Others keep it as a traditional time for doing the annual Spring cleaning and overall “cleaning house.” A recent psycho-educational session about organizing our living space and ultimately better organizing our life, 738BE095-1BF3-458B-8D44-3970DA58D32Ewas based on more effective methods. This includes suggestions that were made in Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying (first published in Japanese in 2011). As this month is also Mental Health Awareness Month we can find ways to tidy up our own lives, change our way of thinking,  positive overall mental health which is part of being more health literate about what mental illness is and what it isn’t.

Kondo’s method is largely based on “mindful” tidying and extends to a similar philosophy that rings true throughout time — healthy mind and healthy body. And I say why not extend this to a tidier and cleaner society with happier and more health literate people!? One editor nicely shared her “lessons learned” for her own home (and likely her office) after reading Kondo’s book.

Many of us for one always feel better in a clean and tidy environment as it helps us clear and settle our mind. We can start to prioritize and reduce procrastinating hopefully!

  • “Prune your stuff often” is an easy phrase to remember from what I consider to be a classic book, The Rules of Life (Richard Templar). Think of pruning a bush, the same way you then will sort and throw out paperwork to recycling, don’t just pile up clothes and dishes, store and wash your dishes daily, life will be so much ‘easier’ to get a handle on!
  • exercise your dusting, broom and mopping ‘skills’, and how about learning better tips like “How to Clean Your Room” video
  • use biodegradable cleaning products like those by Amway Home, so much better for the environment
  • use a small vacuum for daily messes, and leave heavier vacuuming for once a month.

Key messages she emphasizes are to respect yourself and your property (starting with clothes, books/papers, all closets, collectibles,  etc.), donate or sell as needed — most countries have Salvation Army which works on helping people in poverty and collecting and either re-selling or distributing products like clothes, furniture, collectibles.  There are also many common on-line selling sections like FB’s Marketplace.

Speaking  of clothes, for those of us who love clothes, accessories and shoes among other stuff we can also learn to better organize them (fold and store — for some of us space is a limitation so we have to move out winter stuff bring our spring and summer stuff, what a chore but good to see what we have and what doesn’t fit anymore!). The concept of Natalie’s blog of “wear you are now” fits nicely here!

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White color  is associated with “purity” and cleanliness, best shown with this lily of the valley, hand picked!

We all at some point may experience serious serious mental health issues with friends or family it is important to keep calm, get informed, get support.  Help can come in many forms, and it is not our job to “rescue” people, but you/we can:

  • intervene legally with human services or police if situations get out of hand and people are a danger to themselves (or to others)
  • educate ourselves and others on mental health issues (online, offline in seminars, by trained counselors, etc.)
  • get therapy ourselves if things get out of hand (including feelings of guilt if someone you care for hurts themselves you are never to blame for another’s extreme choice and live with a clear conscience if you’ve tried to help!). I recently came across a great video by handsome Father Mike Schmitz who talks about suicide (this video is part of others a series) — not only talks about the religious side of the matter but clearly differentiated the importance of having a team of professionals! As he says, are all doctors the same? are all religious advisors the same? so why not try different therapists as he puts a heavy importance on maintaining hope and never giving up. I think this song by the group Hurts “Never Give Up It’s Such a Wonderful Life” says it all friends….

A good friend who has years of experience in emergency medicine and writes a fab blog Heal Thyself Heal Thy World  always says “you can only do what you can do…”  There are many sites with great “tips” out there. I particularly liked one by Parent’s Magazine article about 7 Pink Flags to look out for in children with possibly serious mental health issues, and loved the importance of mental health video by the wife of Canadian Prime Minister, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau for May Mental Health Month — key emphasis on self-care and self-compassion.

Enjoy your new spring outlook, be strong and get support as needed, and carry on!