Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Religious pigheadedness

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Kevin Drum notes:

Italy’s disastrous coronavirus epidemic was kicked off by a soccer match in Bergamo that authorities decided not to cancel. In South Korea it was meetings of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus. In Spain it was—again—soccer matches, which weren’t shut down until mid-March. In Louisiana it was Mardi Gras. In Florida it was spring break. In France it was a five-day gathering of the Christian Open Door church. So count me as disgusted by this:

At any other time, in a predominantly Christian nation that enshrines freedom of worship in the Constitution, the news would sound absurd or terrifying: “Pastor arrested after holding church services.” But that’s what happened this week when sheriff’s deputies handcuffed a Tampa, Fla., minister for violating municipal stay-at-home orders by gathering hundreds to worship….Brown, now out on bail, has complained of “religious bigotry.”

….In Louisiana, police issued a summons Tuesday to the pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, La., near Baton Rouge, after he held services for 1,200 people in violation of state limits. “Never been more proud to be persecuted for the faith like my savior,” the Rev. Tony Spell shot back.

…R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, a prominent conservative Christian magazine, recently said in an article that politicians have been correct to put forth “stern measures to slow the spread of the virus.” But he added that churches should stay open. “When we worship, we join the Christian rebellion against the false lordship of the principalities and powers that claim to rule our lives, including sickness and death,” Reno wrote this month.

Idiots. I won’t pretend to offer Biblical advice to these guys, but at the very least they should care about . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 April 2020 at 12:03 pm

Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure

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Aisah S. Ahmad writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Among my academic colleagues and friends, I have observed a common response to the continuing Covid-19 crisis. They are fighting valiantly for a sense of normalcy — hustling to move courses online, maintaining strict writing schedules, creating Montessori schools at their kitchen tables. They hope to buckle down for a short stint until things get back to normal. I wish anyone who pursues that path the very best of luck and health.

Yet as someone who has experience with crises around the world, what I see behind this scramble for productivity is a perilous assumption. The answer to the question everyone is asking — “When will this be over?” — is simple and obvious, yet terribly hard to accept. The answer is never.

Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war. Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened. And so, while it may feel good in the moment, it is foolish to dive into a frenzy of activity or obsess about your scholarly productivity right now. That is denial and delusion. The emotionally and spiritually sane response is to prepare to be forever changed.

The rest of this piece is an offering. I have been asked by my colleagues around the world to share my experiences of adapting to conditions of crisis. Of course, I am just a human, struggling like everyone else to adjust to the pandemic. However, I have worked and lived under conditions of war, violent conflict, poverty, and disaster in many places around the world. I have experienced food shortages and disease outbreaks, as well as long periods of social isolation, restricted movement, and confinement. I have conducted award-winning research under intensely difficult physical and psychological conditions, and I celebrate productivity and performance in my own scholarly career.

I share the following thoughts during this difficult time in the hope that they will help other academics to adapt to hardship conditions. Take what you need, and leave the rest.

Stage No. 1: Security

Your first few days and weeks in a crisis are crucial, and you should make ample room to allow for a mental adjustment. It is perfectly normal and appropriate to feel bad and lost during this initial transition. Consider it a good thing that you are not in denial, and that you are allowing yourself to work through the anxiety. No sane person feels good during a global disaster, so be grateful for the discomfort of your sanity. At this stage, I would focus on food, family, friends, and maybe fitness. (You will not become an Olympic athlete in the next two weeks, so don’t put ridiculous expectations on your body.)

Next, ignore everyone who is posting productivity porn on social media right now. It is OK that you keep waking up at 3 a.m. It is OK that you forgot to eat lunch and cannot do a Zoom yoga class. It is OK that you have not touched that revise-and-resubmit in three weeks.

Ignore the people who are posting that they are writing papers and the people who are complaining that they cannot write papers. They are on their own journey. Cut out the noise.

Know that you are not . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 March 2020 at 9:20 am

A Complete Guide To Actually Getting Somewhere With Meditation

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David at Raptitude has an interesting and useful introductory guide to meditation. It’s well worth reading. It begins:

It seems as though we’ve entered the “What do I do with myself?” phase of social distancing. Over the last week or two, several billion daily routines essentially evaporated, and now each of us has to make a new one. Indoors.

The wonderful comments from last week’s post offer a glimpse into the still-forming routines of more than 500 people. A major theme is getting back to things that ground us and keep us present: reading, arts and crafts, phoning old friends, yoga, baking, and meditation.

Basically, everyone’s trying to stay healthy, sane, connected, and as helpful as they can be from home. My hope is that we’ll come out of this experience changed in exactly those ways: some degree healthier, saner, more connected and more helpful.

Not everyone has more time these days, but with everything closed, we have fewer ways to spend it. So it’s a good time to dive into home-based pursuits that make us healthier and more resilient. As one person put it, “It’s bad time for many things, but it’s a good time to read the classics, bake bread, and learn to meditate.”

I can’t help anyone with their baking goals, but I can definitely help anyone who wants to use this time to become a meditator. Given my platform and my particular skills, perhaps the most useful thing I can do for our species right now is to help some of its members finally get somewhere with meditation.

After all, it can be learned without leaving the house, it requires no equipment, and its benefits are especially pertinent right now: the ability to cultivate calm, focus, and emotional resilience in the midst of uncertainty. It can help people work better from home, and sleep better at night.

Meditation is also something you can do now — today, despite all the current restrictions on normal life ­­– that will begin moving you towards a place of less anxiety and more clarity of mind.

Making Meditation Click

I say “get somewhere” with meditation because, while most aspiring meditators do experience some benefit, most probably don’t experience the life-changing level of calm and focus meditation is known for.

They may continue to do meditate a little, and get something out of it, but it never becomes transformative. It doesn’t have the profound quality-of-life benefits they probably hoped for when they started. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Note later in the post the free small course in Three-Minute Mindfulness.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 March 2020 at 11:02 am

Great list of ideas for being home with kids

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The list begins:

  • Have each kid pick a topic they’d like to learn about and spend 30 mins each day on that topic
  • Spend one day reading every single picture book we have in the house
  • Go through all the old mail laying around (ok, that one’s not for kids although they do enjoy helping tear stuff up)
  • Bake something every day
  • Have each kid write a letter and/or emails to a different friend or family member each day
  • Use all of our building toys on one giant structure
  • Wash our hands!!!!
  • Races of various kinds in the backyard (hopping on one foot, crabwalk, walking backwards, etc.)
  • Try stop motion animation with playdough
  • Facetime grandparents a lot
  • . . .

Continue reading — many more items in the list. It fails to include:

  • Get two short lengths of light rope and learn to tie a variety of knots using (say) YouTube — cf. the Zeppelin Bend. It’s always good to know how to tie knots.
  • Learn Esperanto with your children.
  • Use to send emails to your future self about what it’s like the day you write and/or your predictions about the near-term future. You can pick any future day you want on which to receive the email — try 3 months from now, or 6 months from now.
  • Learn how to force checkmate with only Bishop and Knight as the remaining pieces.


Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2020 at 7:29 am

How to Not Let the Coronavirus Steal Your Mental Health While You’re At Home

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This is good information in these troubled times. It begins:

by Kara Bowman, MFT, CT, CCTP, C-GC

We are fortunate to be going through this pandemic in the age of electronic communication that provides us with information, connection, productivity and entertainment. We are equally fortunate that we have decades of psychological research to guide us in getting through an experience of isolation in a way that will stave off depression and anxiety while helping us grow and thrive.

My county was one of the first in the country to adopt a legal Shelter in Place order. Residents are not to leave their homes other than for essential activities or to be in nature six feet apart from anyone from another household. As a mental health professional, I would like to share some tips about how to be physically isolated without letting it take a mental toll.

Create Structure:  Make a schedule each day and keep to it. You may want to vary it on the weekends or different days for variety. If you don’t consciously fill your time, your time will fill up for you. Listen to podcasts, watch videos, read, exercise, talk to friends, work on a project, create art, listen to music, dance, play games, cook, take a bath or do whatever you’re going to feel good about at the end of the day. Just be proactive, rather than reactive.

Get Physical: . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

In the “Learn something” category, let me point out Duolingo also offers Esperanto lessons. But seems particularly good.

Esperanto is useful because even young children find it easy to learn (and it will help them if they later learn another non-English language) — and perhaps it can serve as a family “secret language” in the future. 🙂

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2020 at 6:35 am

Inside the Pro-Trump Facebook Group Where First Responders Call Coronavirus a Hoax

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Isaac Arnsdorf reports in ProPublica:

In a 27,000-member private Facebook group for first responders who support President Donald Trump, firefighters and paramedics have posted thousands of comments in recent weeks downplaying the coronavirus pandemic that they are responsible for helping to handle.

Posts in the group, which is called IAFF Union Firefighters for Trump and has been endorsed by Trump, scoffed at the seriousness of the virus, echoing false assertions by Trump and his allies comparing it to the seasonal flu. “Every election year has a disease,” read one meme, purporting to be written on a doctor’s office whiteboard. “This is a viral-pneumonia being hyped as The Black Plague before an election.”

As of Monday, there were 4,464 cases and 78 deaths in the U.S., according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

As confirmed cases and deaths expanded and officials began shutting down mass gatherings and public places, the posts intensified their attacks on Democrats and the media. “I believe this is all by design,” wrote a Texas firefighter whose identity was corroborated by ProPublica. “Democrats have wanted to slow down and even kill the economy. It’s the only hope they have of beating Trump. Sad and disgusting the depths of shit the Democrats will descend to in order to gain power.”

Posts containing factual information or firsthand experiences with the virus were met with more accusations of plots to harm Trump’s reelection. When a Florida firefighter said action was required now to prevent a crisis like is currently underway in Italy, where 27,980 have been infected and 2,158 have died, because the virus spreads at an exponential rate, the first reply was poop emojis and “Trump2020.”

Some comments promoted a baseless conspiracy theory that the virus is a biological weapon developed by the Chinese in collaboration with Democrats.

“By the Chinese to stop the riots in Hong Kong,” one member wrote.

“[Y]ou are absolutely correct,” another replied. “I said that in the beginning. Democrats saw an opportunity to use it against Trump and get rid of older people which they have been trying to do for a while.”

Commenters contacted by ProPublica declined to answer questions or didn’t respond to messages. ProPublica reviewed hundreds of screenshots provided by co-workers of members of the group who asked to be anonymous, fearing retaliation. Those people said the social media posts are not idle online venting — they reflect real-world attitudes that are leading some first responders to potentially shun special plans and protective equipment. That dismissiveness, the people said, could put first responders and others at risk as they attend to emergency calls with potentially infected people. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 March 2020 at 2:38 pm

“I Quit Smoking After Many Failed Attempts”

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I would say “practice attempts” rather than “failed attempts,” but in any even the Medium story Felix Wankel writes about what he discovered is worth reading — and applying. He begins:

In 2018, I was working at an office on the 4th floor. I took the stairs for the first time on the day the elevator broke down. Until that moment, I didn’t know my lungs were not capable of climbing stairs, even to the 4th floor. I was out of breath and almost started to sweat when I finally sit at my table. I thought about how my life will be like in 10 years while waiting for my breath to get back to normal. I imagined myself covered in tubes and wires lying in a hospital bed, maybe I’ll not be able to speak properly, even thinking about it was terrifying. On that day, thanks to the elevator, I decided to quit smoking.

After quick research on the internet, I found Allen Carr’s famous method. There were hundreds of people saying that they finally quit smoking by following his advice despite their previous unsuccessful attempts. Comments on the internet were convincing, I decided to give it a try. The method helped me to understand the addiction, also clearly showed me that biases and fears play an important role as well as the physical effects of nicotine. It worked for me but didn’t last long, I found myself smoking a cigarette after 4 days. But I didn’t see it as a failure, not smoking for 4 days was a record for me. I tried to quit several more times by the same method but the results didn’t change, I kept smoking after short periods.

I was determined to quit so I continued my research for alternative techniques and read a couple of books that focus on addiction in general. Among various other suggestions, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 March 2020 at 5:37 pm

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