Paper Crafting Group Sends A Heartfelt Thank You

Lifting the spirits of the people serving others on the front lines of the pandemic has been the mission of the Center’s paper crafting group. More than 4,000 (Yes! 4,000) handcrafted thank you cards have been delivered to people working in our community every day while facing constant exposure to COVID-19.

“We wanted to let those individuals know that their efforts are appreciated and that they are thought of each day,” said Betty Rasmusen, leader of the group. “Our card-making effort started during the early days of the virus outbreak.”

Cards have been delivered to the local police and fire departments and post office workers. Employees at local nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as workers at St. John Hospital, St. Francis Hospital and Hillcrest Hospital and Reasor’s stores, have all received thank you cards. The group took the time to find out how many employees worked at each location, got busy and made a card for each one. Their efforts have been astonishing. All 300 of the nursing staff at the Veterans’ Center in Claremore received a card, and there are nearly 300 cards in the making for military service members. Hundreds of local teachers will be receiving cards in their school mailbox as plans for the start of school are underway.

The group’s work isn’t going to end any time soon. The delivery of more cards offering a spirit-lifting thank you is being planned.

If you would like to help the group in their support of community workers, envelopes measuring 4” x 5” would be gladly accepted. Envelopes can be dropped off at the Center’s front door. Please call the office to inform us of the donation. If you would like to help the group with their ongoing card-making efforts, contact Betty at jeepindave@yahoo.com.

How To Manage Your Emotional Health

Let’s be real: Amid the current situation that is happening in our society and community, our emotions are all over the place. All of us can do something to help us through and have hope for the future.

The definition of hope is a belief that your future will be better than today, and you have the power to make it so. Below are some helpful tips, tricks and hints to help you through this time and beyond.

Knowledge is power: Effectively staying informed is important. Turn off the TV, radio and media. To reduce anxiety, limit the amount of information you are receiving related to COVID-19, and don’t trust everything you hear and see. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great way to stay informed to keep yourself protected and safe: https://www.cdc.gov.

Get your emotional support system in place: Maintain familiar routines in daily life as much as possible; take care of your basic needs and employ helpful coping strategies; rest during work or between shifts; eat healthy food; and engage in physical activity.

Stay connected with others, and maintain your social networks: Have the emails and phone numbers of close friends and family at your fingertips. Stay connected through email, social media, video conference and telephone.

Stay connected with your provider: All are offering telehealth or virtual services online so that you can still stay connected with them during this time.

Mental Health Association Oklahoma: MHAO offers free support virtual support groups so you can stay connected and receive the emotional support you need. Call 918-585-1213 or fill out a referral form at https://mhaok.org/support-groups.

National Alliance for Mental Illness: NAMI is another organization to be involved with; the local affiliate is http://www.namitulsa.org. Contact the SAMHSA disaster distress helpline at 800-985-5990. It provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

Some helpful free apps and resources are also available to help you during this time. Practice or learn new coping skills so that you can better manage your overall health:

  • Listen to music;
  • Read a book;
  • Get enough sleep/rest – average is six to seven hours – or power nap about 20 minutes, before 2 p.m.; Avoid excessive caffeine; Stay hydrated by drinking water;
  • Puzzles;
  • Taking deep breaths;
  • Cooking a meal;
  • Create your own anything that can help you manage your emotions.

Courtesy of the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma.

Meals Available For Pickup Each Wednesday At The Senior Center

Through the BA Senior Center, the Tulsa & Creek Counties Senior Nutrition Program served 2,527 Meals to 114 Seniors during the month of July.

Eating nutritious meals is an important part of staying healthy. Grocery shopping and meal preparation during these challenging times can be an obstacle to good nutrition for many seniors. The BA Seniors nutrition program, through the Tulsa & Creek Counties Senior Nutrition Program, can help.

Nutritious frozen meals and shelf-stable items are available for pickup at the Center each Wednesday in September from 11 a.m. to noon.

If you are 60 or older and want to take advantage of the program, call 918-8354160 for more information. Reservations are required and must be made by 11 a.m. the day before. Nutrition forms are available on the Center’s website at www.baseniors.org.

If you haven’t already completed a nutrition form, bring the completed form with you on the day of pickup. The suggested donation is $2 per meal.

The Everyday Stress Of Surviving A Pandemic

Pandemics can be stressful. At least that’s what I’ve been told; this is my first one.

Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. Social distancing can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Wearing a mask; not wearing a mask. Public safety. Personal freedom. I will get sick. I won’t get sick. CDC statistics. My cousin Steve’s statistics. The debate continues.

Those last 89 words are the cause of much of my daily stress. Since we reopened on July 6, I am finding ways to cope with stress in a healthy way. Doing so will make me stronger – emotionally and physically. I recommend that you take a moment and collect your thoughts when your stress is building. Remaining calm can help you focus on the things you can control and not dwell on things you can’t.

Even after reading that sage advice – even after speaking that sage advice – and even after thinking about that sage advice, I hear my wife’s voice saying, “Pottle!” She shortens the “pot calling the kettle black” idiom when I’m guilty of the very thing I’m telling others to adhere to. Basically, she made up a word that sounds nothing like the word “hypocrite.”

I’m blessed to have someone to help balance out my life and keep me from falling into a deep, dark, depressing and destructive psychological COVID hole.

It is normal to feel stressed or overwhelmed during uncertain times. Emotions in response to uncertainty may include anxiety, fear, anger and sadness. You also could feel helpless, discouraged and occasionally out of control.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job or loss of support services you rely on;
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns;
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating;
  • Worsening of chronic health problems;
  • Worsening of mental health conditions;
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances;
  • Trouble focusing on daily activities;
  • Anxiety that turns into feelings of being out of control;
  • Strong feelings that interfere with daily activities;
  • Having emotions that become difficult to manage;
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.

The Importance Of Self-care

What I have learned the past four months is the importance of self-care. Practicing self-care does not mean you are choosing yourself over your loved one. Self-care doesn’t mean that you are selfish.

Self-care is simple. It is taking the time to care about yourself – what I call “a little me time.”

I struggled with that sentiment but soon discovered that taking care of myself is the opposite of being selfish. Then a good friend explained it in terms I could understand. On an airplane, the flight attendants tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before we help others. Why? If you’re unconscious, you are no good to anyone else. So, absolutely, support others, but take care of yourself first.

During these unprecedented times of self-quarantine and social distancing, we must all take steps to ensure we stay healthy. Experts from the CDC and the Mayo Clinic offered the following advice:

  • Find a healthy balance – Limit the time you listen to news about the virus and instead participate in healthy activities. It’s important to engage in a lifestyle that encourages resilience and a healthy balance between work and home life. I took this to heart. Before the coronavirus, I regularly worked 10-to-12-hour days and still didn’t get everything done. Now I work and, when I get home and after we prepare dinner, I tend to my vegetable and herb garden for an hour or two.
  • Keep perspective – Use reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization to find your information. Being educated can help relieve anxiety and speculation. I’d like to think I’m educated and informed on operating a senior activity center in the midst of a pandemic. I listen to the sage advice of physicians, researchers and public health experts. I don’t just take someone’s word for it based on a Facebook post, what I overhear while filling up the car with gas or what the checker at the grocery store tells me.
  • Take care of your body – Stress can impact many parts of our bodies and can cause shortness of breath, sore muscles and even fatigue. To avoid these side effects, it’s important to take care of your body. Deep breathing, meditation and yoga all can help. The BA Senior Center has five or six exercise classes a day – including four yoga classes during the week. If you can’t come to the Center, our instructor has recommended courses so you can participate at home.
  • Exercise regularly – It’s an important part of staying both physically and mentally healthy. Exercise doesn’t have to consist of a complicated workout routine at the gym. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking or biking instead of driving. Daily exercise produces stress-relieving hormones and improves your general health. This is essential and is best done outside before the day gets too hot. Get your heart rate up, whether it is at the Center or at home. Even better, do it with a friend, partner or spouse.
  • Eat healthy foods – It will give your body fuel to exercise. By eating mostly unprocessed foods, you can lower your risk of chronic illness and stabilize your energy and mood. When the pandemic hit, I tried to eat my feelings. I might have eaten 10 pounds of jelly beans in one week in April. Thanks to having vegetables right out my back door and a spouse who loves to cook with me – I’m the sous chef and she’s the chef – eating healthy is easier.
  • Get enough sleep – It’s important in maintaining your physical and mental health. People generally require seven to nine hours of sleep to stay healthy. Turning off your phone and TV about 30 minutes before you go to bed can help you sleep better. Honestly, I have to work on this one. I’m lucky to get five or six hours of sleep a night. I blame it on my wife’s cats – they’re hers, but they like me best.
  • Avoid risky or destructive behaviors – Avoid abusing alcohol or drugs, excessive gambling or ignoring public health recommendations. Check. Check. Check. And check.
  • Spend time outside – Go for a walk in the park, but follow social distancing guidelines. I’ve seen neighbors walking with masks; at the beginning of the pandemic, I made masks at home and passed them out to those who wanted or needed them. We even hang a mask on the front door that we can put on when we go outside or answer the door.

Moving forward, we all need reliable information to understand how best to address our overall health and well-being.

Part of practicing self-care is protecting yourself and others. To that end … wear a mask! You wear a mask to protect others from you – not to protect yourself.

Just do it. That way I won’t get stressed out.