For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.
What Is PTSD?<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">PTSD</a> can occur when someone is exposed to extreme exposure traumatic experience. Typically, the trauma involves a threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. Along with war veterans, it happens to refugees; to victims of gun violence, rape and other physical assaults; and to survivors of car accidents and natural disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes.</p><p>PTSD can also happen by witnessing trauma or its aftermath, often the case with <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd" target="_blank">first responders</a> and <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-many-faces-anxiety-and-trauma/202006/invisible-wounds-the-frontline-heroes" target="_blank">front-line workers</a>.</p><p>All this adds up to tens of millions of Americans. Up to 30% of combat veterans and first responders, and 8% of civilians, <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/essentials/epidemiology.asp" target="_blank">fulfill the diagnostic criteria for PTSD</a>. And that criteria is not easily met: symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive trauma memories, difficulty sleeping, avoidance of reminders of trauma, negative emotions, and what we call "hyperarousal symptoms."</p>
Fireworks Can Trigger Flashbacks<p>Hyperarousal, a core component of PTSD, occurs when a person is hyper-alert to any sign of threat – constantly on edge, easily startled and continuously screening the environment.</p><p>Imagine, for instance, stepping down the stairs in the dark after hearing a noise; you're worried an intruder might be downstairs. Then a totally unpredictable loud sound explodes right outside your window.</p><p>For people with PTSD, that sound – reminiscent of gunfire, a thunderstorm or a car crash – <a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">can cause</a> a panic attack or trigger flashbacks, a sensory experience that makes it seem as if the old trauma is happening here and now. Flashbacks can be so severe that combat veterans may suddenly drop to the ground, the same way they would when an explosion took place in combat. Later, the experience can trigger nightmares, insomnia or worsening of other PTSD symptoms.</p><p>Those of us who set off fireworks need to ask ourselves: Are those few minutes of fun worth the hours, days, or weeks of torment that will begin for some of our friends and neighbors – including many who put their lives on the line to protect us?</p>
Who Else Is Affected?<p>Millions of others, though not diagnosed with PTSD, may similarly be affected by fireworks. <a href="https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics" target="_blank">One in five Americans</a> have an anxiety disorder, many with symptoms of hyperarousal. Also impacted are those with autism or developmental disabilities; they find it difficult to cope with the noise, or just the drastic change from life routines. Then there are people who have to work, holiday or not: nurses, physicians and first responders, who have to be up at 4 a.m. for a 30-hour shift.</p><h3>How to Reduce the Negative Impact</h3><p>There are ways to reduce how fireworks affect others:</p><ul><li>For those with PTSD, the unexpected nature of fireworks is probably the worst part. So at least make it as predictable as possible. Do it in designated areas during designated times. Don't explode one, for instance, two hours after the designated time window. And avoid setting them off <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/04/fireworks-ptsd-fourth-of-july-veterans-shooting-survivors" target="_blank">on the 3rd</a>. People are less prepared then.</li><li>If you're aware that a veteran or trauma survivor lives in the neighborhood, move the noise as far as possible from their home and give them prior warning. Consider putting a sign in your front yard noting the time you'll set the fireworks.</li><li>Remember, it doesn't have to be super loud to make it fun. Consider using <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504964-its-time-for-silent-fireworks" target="_blank">silent fireworks</a>. And you don't have to be the one who lights the fireworks. Simply enjoy watching while your city or township does it safely.</li></ul>
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By Greg Watts
Many of us have been spending more time at home than ever before, and chances are unless you live by yourself in the middle of nowhere, at some point unwanted noise will have infiltrated your lockdown.
Creating Quiet<p>Reducing noise at the source is usually the best course of action. Ideally, many of us would like to reduce the number of noisy vehicles passing our homes and gardens but unfortunately, we can't control this. In the case of road traffic, reducing the speed limit would help – as would a smoother road surface or, better still, a surface that absorbs sound such as porous asphalt. These are all jobs for the highway authority – but they may have more pressing claims on their budgets.</p><p>There are, however, things you can do around your house and garden to make things a little more peaceful. A barrier such as a close boarded fence, earth mound or wall close to the road should help – but they will have to be long enough and high enough to have much effect.</p><p>Much depends on where the house is in relation to the road. The aim would be to position any barrier so that the road is not in view from any exposed window or part of the garden.</p>
A high wall or substantial fence can reduce traffic noise if placed close to the road. Author provided
Natural Features<p>Interestingly our <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-tranquil-spaces-can-help-people-feel-calm-and-relaxed-in-cities-82358" target="_blank">perception of tranquillity</a> is shaped not only by the sounds we hear but also what we see.</p><p>A study involving brain scans has shown that we process auditory information differently <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20600971/" target="_blank">depending on the scene in view</a>. The noise of a sandy beach and highway at distance are quite similar, but research has shown that if using the same sound recording while showing a beach scene (as opposed to a highway scene) to volunteers in an MRI scanner, the resulting brain patterns differ significantly. The rated tranquillity also differs significantly.</p><p>In fact, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273366914_Tranquillity_and_soundscapes_in_urban_green_spaces-predicted_and_actual_assessments_from_a_questionnaire_survey" target="_blank">research on tranquility has shown</a> that the rated tranquillity of a place depends on both the percentage of natural features – such as greenery, rock, sand and water – in view and the level of man-made noise.</p><p>This means there is a trade-off in the sense that if you cannot control the noise, the perceived tranquillity improves if the amount of greenery or water in view increases. This is worth bearing in mind when creating a tranquil garden space.</p>
Finding Tranquillity Indoors<p>Inside the home, some of the same principles apply. Reduce sources of noise by installing double glazing to windows and doors and add a thicker insulation layer in the loft to control aircraft noise.</p><p>If it proves difficult to control noise in the bedroom then think about changing rooms so that you sleep on the non-traffic side of the house. Another thought is to include pictures of nature as wall art – the bigger the better – as <a href="https://core.ac.uk/display/76945458?source=2" target="_blank">research has shown</a> that installing pictures of nature scenes on the walls, as well as playing relaxing sea sounds as background music, can significantly improve people's experiences of tranquillity and anxiety in a doctor's waiting room.</p><p>Many of us have enjoyed listening to the birds more often with the reduced traffic levels of lockdown. It would be nice to think the "new normal" would include some of these gains. Hopefully people will realize that many of the journeys they make by car are not strictly necessary. And it's important not to forget that nature is around us all the time – if only we just take a moment to stop and listen.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Cathy Cassata
Since your social calendar has been blank for the last few months, filling it back up can feel liberating — but it can also cause anxiety.
1. Ease Back Into It.<p>For those who live with social anxiety, <a href="https://www.communitypsychiatry.com/providers/allie-shapiro-m-d/" target="_blank">Dr. Allie R. Shapiro</a>, psychiatrist with <a href="https://www.communitypsychiatry.com/" target="_blank">Community Psychiatry</a>, says to slowly enter into a social life<em>.</em></p><p>"This will help them to ease into situations that were previously uncomfortable. As quarantine ends, the auto-avoidance will also end, necessitating their introduction back into situations they deeply fear. That's not a leap anyone should take all at once," Shapiro told Healthline.</p><p>Start by connecting with those in your closest inner circle.</p><p>"That circle is your comfort space, and people you feel most like yourself with and can be honest with and who you trust," Anhalt said.</p><p>When you're ready, she suggests reaching out to people you enjoy being with but may feel nervous around and need warming up to. Eventually, expand your circle to include people and situations that make you anxious.</p><p>"[The idea is to] give yourself a little taste of something that makes you anxious and then wait for the anxiety to calm down. Then increase your exposure a little more and wait for the anxiety to come down," Anhalt said.</p><p>If you're not ready to see people face-to-face, Abelovska suggests setting a goal to talk with a different person each day over the phone or via video chat.</p><p>"After you have had a week of calling a friend a day, why not go further and organize a group call with a few friends to get used to group interaction. If you feel ready, why not get a date [on the calendar] for a socially distanced walk with a friend," she said.</p>
2. Visualize Situations in Your Head.<p>Shapiro recommends preparing for upcoming social events by role-playing specific worries or concerns with someone you trust, on paper or in your head.</p><p>Abelovska elaborates by explaining if you have an upcoming walk planned with a friend or are about to meet them at the park, try to mentally plan your meetup and how you'd like it to go.</p><p>"Visualize your friend when you see them and what you will say. It may be awkward at first, especially as we are not able to hug or touch friends, but you will soon adapt to the new way of greeting a loved one," she said.</p><p>Another strategy Shapiro suggests is to challenge internal negative thought patterns with a reversal thought, either before or during anxiety-provoking situations.</p><p>For example, if you're going to an outing where you'll be around new people, she says, "Instead of auto-thinking, 'These people won't like me and will make fun of me,' try: 'They've been stuck inside for months just like me. We'll trade stories. They will like me and I'll probably find one new friend,'" she said.</p>
3. Allow Yourself to Be Scared.<p>Even if it seems like everyone around you isn't worried or scared to get back into the world, Shapiro says it's acceptable to have your own reaction and anxieties about the situation.</p><p>"Remember, no one has ever been through anything like this in the modern world, so no one really knows how to do it 'right.' Even the experts don't have all the answers, so it's normal to have your own uncertainties and doubts," she said.</p><p>Socialize at your comfort level, Shapiro adds.</p><p>"You're not obligated to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or puts you at risk. There are a lot of different factors that will affect when you feel it's the best time to start venturing out. Think about your age, health history, quarantine situations, and even your own anxiety when taking that next step outside," Shapiro said.</p><p>Feelings of safety in the world validate some of our anxieties, notes Anhalt.</p><p>"There is so much unknown about what is ultimately safe, and some of our fears about being out in the world are actually warranted, so it's a good idea to be thoughtful about who you are engaging with socially, and understand if they are [on the same page] as you are," she said.</p><p>Share your feelings of panic and fear over social plans with those who are closest to you.</p><p>"You may feel slightly embarrassed about these feelings, especially if you are usually the life and soul of the party, but there's no shame in feeling slightly overwhelmed by the changes, especially after so much time spent alone," Abelovska said.</p><p>"I can guarantee that at least one of [your friends] will be going through the same thing and will be glad and relieved that you have spoken about it," she said.</p>
4. Practice Self-Care.<p>Prioritizing your physical health, learning breathing exercises, developing self-reflective practices like therapy and journaling, and talking to friends and family about your worries are all practical parts of anxiety management, says Anhalt.</p><p>"While we don't have a playbook, we can rely on coming back to ourselves and the present moment, and making sure we have [reliable] spaces in our lives so we can navigate the spaces that feel out of our control," she said.</p><p>Anhalt believes that people who work proactively on their mental health are better equipped to handle the unknowns.</p><p>"It's like doing emotional pushups, so when things get hard in the world, we have these core tools we can come back to that make us feel grounded," she said.</p><p>She compares going back into the world like participating in an obstacle course that you didn't get to see in advance.</p><p>"You might not be able to prepare for everything you're going to encounter, but you can get your body and mind ready to handle difficult things beforehand. This will put you in a better position to navigate anything that comes your way," Anhalt said.</p>
5. Get Professional Help.<p>If you've tried all you can to assimilate back into some form of socializing but anxiety and panic are interfering with your ability to do so, it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional.</p><p>Search the <a href="https://members.adaa.org/page/FATMain?" target="_blank">Anxiety and Depression Association of America</a> for a licensed mental health professional who specializes in anxiety and related disorders.</p>
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By Ann-Christin Herbe
Normally, it is easy for me to motivate myself to work out. But there are also the days when my couch seems so much more comfortable than the weight bench in the gym.
On such days, out of habit, I mostly reach for my cell phone and open Instagram to distract myself and buy a little more time. I'll go just a little later, I tell myself. Probably.
Not Good for the Self-Image<p>After just a couple of minutes on the social media platform, I am already being confronted with just how sporty other people seem to be. A muscular man is doing push-ups; a young woman in tight sportswear is holding a plate in front of the camera — hashtags: fitforlife and cleaneating.</p><p>Can this motivate me to do some sport today after all? Or does it only rub in my own weaknesses? Instagram has a bad reputation when it comes to influencing people's image of themselves. According to a <a href="https://www.rsph.org.uk/uploads/assets/uploaded/d125b27c-0b62-41c5-a2c0155a8887cd01.pdf" target="_blank">British study</a> from 2017, no other social media platform has such a negative impact on body image, sleep behavior and mental health.</p>
Instagram a Motivator After All?<p>Despite this, it would seem that it is, in fact, worthwhile spending a few minutes with the app every so often. A new study by scientists from the <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00071/full" target="_blank">Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)</a> shows that those who regularly watch motivational content on Instagram are more likely to be active and enjoy sports more.</p><p><span></span>"Our goal was to show people what their personal motivation is to do sports," says one of the study authors from NTNU, Frode Stenseng.</p><p>To test the influence of Instagram on sports motivation, the study participants were divided into two groups. One group followed an Instagram account that posted motivational sayings or images every three days over a period of four weeks, while the other one didn't.</p>
Sporting Fun Through Personal Initiative<p>The posts on the account were based on various motivation theories. They were meant to give users the feeling that they were part of a group and yet were acting autonomously at the same time.</p><p>"The participants who followed the motivation account associated many positive emotions with their sporting activities. The others did not," says Stenseng. This is because those who feel they have decided to do a workout on their own initiative because it fulfills their desire for fitness and health have more fun doing it.</p>
Targets Should Remain Realistic<p>"Reading motivational sayings in social networks can certainly trigger an initial motivation to want to do sport," says <a href="https://www.mindvisory.com/coaches/wolfram.html" target="_blank">motivation coach Petra Wolfram</a>. Nevertheless, it takes more than just motivation to get those sports shoes on.</p><p>"Before I set myself a goal, I take stock of where I am at," says Wolfram. The next step is to consider what one actually wants to achieve. "The goal is allowed to be a bit of a dream, but it should also be realistically achievable," she says. If not, she says, people who are just starting off in sports will tend to give up quickly.</p>
Set Milestones<p>Wolfram has other tips for getting people moving: "The path to the goal is important. I like to compare it with climbing a mountain. When you're at the bottom, you may not be able to see the summit yet, so you have to set in-between goals."</p><p>And if you experience a setback, you shouldn't focus on it for too long, says Wolfram. "Don't ask 'Why did this happen to me?' as much as 'What can I do better and what do I need to get ahead?'"</p>
The Business of Fitness Influencers<p>Instagram is the perfect platform to market your own sporty lifestyle. Fitness influencers provide their followers with recipe ideas and self-designed training programs — some free of charge, some for large sums of money. Along with this comes the daily message: "You are part of the community; we'll get fit together."</p><p>As well as likes and comments, the influencers profit above all from the willingness of their community to spend money. In an American study, 82% of people surveyed said they would buy a product if an influencer recommended it to them. The more people the influencers reach, the more companies pay them for cooperating.</p><p>"Influencers have an enormous reach and impact these days," says psychologist Silje Berg. But she says there is a problem in that much of the content propagated by influencers in the fitness scene is not based on scientific knowledge.</p><p>"The study showed that content based on theory can have positive effects, which is why it is important that more people in this area make good use of their reach," says Berg. It is also important for users to approach the content on the platform with a critical eye, she says.</p>
Negative Feedback Through Comments<p>So-called transformation journeys — when a person's sporting development is accompanied from the very beginning — are also popular. "The encouragement and recognition that people experience through comments can have a motivating effect," says motivation coach Wolfram. "And people start talking with one another and giving each other support."</p><p>But not every interaction on Instagram is positive. Comment sections are never without expressions of hate, envy and negativity. Wolfram warns that reading such comments can be demotivating. "It's important to develop a thick skin against such comments to protect yourself," she says.</p><p><span></span>When she works with competitive athletes, she gets them to completely avoid social media for a few days before a top event or after a big failure as a way of protecting themselves.</p>
Relevance of Health and Sports<p>But despite the disparaging remarks to be found in comment sections and the negative influence Instagram seems to have on people's body image, the researchers from Norway found several good aspects to the social media platform.</p><p> "The study showed that social media can also have a positive influence and is useful in drawing attention to the relevance of health and sports," says Berg.</p><p>And for me, that now means it's high time to get off the couch and go do some sport!<span></span></p>
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By Nicholas Joyce
The coronavirus has resulted in stress, anxiety and fear – symptoms that might motivate a person to see a therapist. Because of social distancing, however, in-person sessions are less possible. For many, this has raised the prospect of online therapy. For clients in need of warmth and reassurance, could this work? Studies and my experience suggests it does.
Telehealth Versus Traditional Therapy<p><a href="https://www.cigna.com/hcpemails/telehealth/telehealth-flyer.pdf" target="_blank">Private insurance companies</a> like Cigna and Aetna, have come around; they now provide coverage for what they see as a "legitimate" service. And <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-wells-2019-consumer-survey-finds-majority-of-consumers-open-to-telehealth-adoption-continues-to-grow-300906438.html" target="_blank">surveys show</a> consumers are receptive to telehealth counseling: no driving to an appointment, no searching for a parking space, no worries about childcare while they're away, no need to switch providers if they move, and no problem if the specialist happens to be far away.</p><p>Online therapy opens doors for clients who wouldn't otherwise seek help, <a href="https://www.worldcat.org/title/empirical-examination-of-the-influence-of-personality-gender-role-conflict-and-self-stigma-on-attitudes-and-intentions-to-seek-online-counseling-in-college-students/oclc/941976505" target="_blank">particularly patients</a> who feel stigmatized by therapy or intimidated by a stranger sitting across the room from them. Often, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/1094931041291295" target="_blank">people open up</a> more easily in telehealth sessions. Firsthand accounts have detailed <a href="https://www.romper.com/p/i-tried-online-therapy-for-a-month-this-is-what-happened-13630" target="_blank">positive experiences from consumers</a>.</p>
Overcoming Prejudices About Online Counseling<p>Now COVID-19 is forcing most traditional psychotherapists to adapt their practice to <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/expressive-trauma-integration/202003/covid-19-etherapy-in-times-isolation" target="_blank">online counseling</a>. After experiencing the medium, they are <a href="https://www.wecounsel.com/blog/why-every-therapist-in-private-practice-needs-a-telehealth-option/" target="_blank">overcoming their prejudices</a>. Many will convert some or all of their caseloads to telehealth after the pandemic ends. Most of our clients seem to be good with it: responding to a satisfaction survey, 85% of USF students strongly or somewhat agreed their telehealth experience was comparable to an in-person visit.</p><p>All this allows a continuity of care for clients that before was impossible; there is, however, a caveat. Because of the coronavirus, some of my clients at USF who live out-of-state have moved back home. That means, legally, I can no longer serve them. Even though they are still USF students, my license is valid only in Florida.</p><p>For telehealth to work effectively, our national system of licensing and regulation law needs to adapt. Although the federal government temporarily halted HIPAA regulations to promote telehealth during this time, not all states are allowing out-of-state practice. The coronavirus may not be here forever, but spring break and Christmas holidays always will. We need seamless telehealth across state lines.</p>
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Many people are anxious to know when life will return to normal after the emergence of the new coronavirus, but a top World Health Organization (WHO) official warned that we may never be rid of the new disease.
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By Wladislaw Rivkin
As an academic who regularly worked from home in the days before coronavirus, my friends often joked about what they imagined my daily routine might be (such as enjoying a morning gin and not changing out of my pajamas). But as many people now realize, the reality is quite different. Working from home can be quite a challenge.
The Importance of Detachment<p>A key element of replenishing vital mental energy, and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1359432X.2014.924926?casa_token=22ZMc7kkRrkAAAAA:8XXFfJTFDQUqzQwg8GdKH30wznesWKCFXBTqVpJanLGCM5JrOW3tIlaSDsJtFZo4Mjs5d_qkV8yGlg" target="_blank">reducing the negative effects</a> of self control is what we call "psychological detachment" This refers to the act of mentally switching off from work during time off, and requires the <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2F1076-89220.127.116.11" target="_blank">absence of all work-related thoughts and activities</a>.</p><p>While the simple act of leaving the office after work immediately helps detachment, this clearly becomes much more difficult when working from home. So it is vitally important to actively <a href="https://iaap-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/apps.12172?casa_token=z3tAUuJ4DkMAAAAA:MTrOfazAiLwh0NXNoEBZR5sgQVGIioBFCA5j3byT8o0XnuU8m4CNX8BS7HAgdcWU3U271p20w-Iu22w8" target="_blank">manage boundaries between work and non-work time</a> to allow for that kind of detachment.</p><p>To begin with, managing work time is key, as remote workers <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0019282" target="_blank">tend to work longer hours</a> compared to office workers. Physical boundaries between the professional and domestic aspects of your life are also helpful, as is committing to time where you don't communicate (or even think) about work, and immersive and enjoyable activities which require concentration.</p>
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By Cathy Cassata
Has the pandemic got you watching reruns of your favorite TV shows, listening to your favorite songs on repeat, or reading the same book again?
Good but Not as Good<p><a href="https://www.lemoyne.edu/Academics/Our-Faculty/Psychology/Krystine-I-Batcho" target="_blank">Krystine Batcho</a>, PhD, professor of psychology at Le Moyne College in New York, said Gabriel's research is informative and relative, particularly during stay-at-home orders.</p><p>However, she said it's important to note that original research on the topic found a substantial difference between traditional and nontraditional ways of remaining connected.</p><p>"The traditional ways of being social (e.g., family, romantic partner) were used to feel connected by many more people and more often than were nontraditional ways (e.g., reading books). More importantly, traditional connections were stronger predictors of well-being," Batcho told Healthline.</p><p>She said that remaining isolated or socially distant and relying on activities such as watching TV, eating favorite foods, or gaming aren't long-term substitutes for actual interactions with other people.</p>
Feeling Nostalgic for People<p>While spending more time away from others, Batcho said it can be helpful to reflect on your relationships. Watching shows, reading books, and listening to music can encourage this reflection.</p><p>"Familiar activities and pleasures fulfill our social needs to some extent by giving us ways of connecting and receiving virtual social support. By providing vicarious social interactions, they remind us that we are not alone," she said.</p><p>Nontraditional social strategies also help us remember how much we love and need the people we're separated from.</p><p>"Connecting from a distance heightens our desire for face-to-face social togetherness, preparing us to engage more fully in our relationships once we return to the lives we had before. With the images they present, film and music sustain us with faith in that return," Batcho said.</p><p>For instance, when we listen to a love song, we enjoy the romance vicariously. By identifying with the lovers in the song, we feel loved, and the love we have for another is refreshed and revitalized, she explained.</p><p>Films, shows, and music also initiate the social-emotional experience of nostalgia.</p>
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When the shelter-in-place orders came down in California, the first thing I thought of was my cousin's wedding—the one I was supposed to officiate. I'd been working on creating a special ceremony since the fall. But once the pandemic kicked in, everything was canceled.
Why We Have Shared Rituals<p>Shared rituals play an important role in our psyches, according to social psychologist Shira Gabriel. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28263640" target="_blank">Her research</a> suggests that rituals—choreographed events that produce an emotionally laden experience—create a feeling of unity and sacredness that bonds us together with others.</p><p>"Rituals give us a feeling of going beyond the ordinary—of having a moment that transcends that, turning events into something special and meaningful," Gabriel says.</p><p>Why transcendent? Because when we participate in ritual, we experience a sort of emotion contagion that sociologist Émile Durkheim called "collective effervescence." That uplift and energy increase our sense of commonality (even with strangers) and make us feel we are part of a larger community. It's why we can feel so bonded to fellow Golden State Warriors fans at a game or so unified during a protest march.</p><p>Gabriel says that we often create shared rituals when we go through important life transitions, too, because they mark the passage of time as sacred. Weddings, funerals, and graduations, for example, all give us a sense of meaning, which makes forgoing them so hard.</p>
Creating More Collective Effervescence Now<p>It's good to know that losing shared rituals isn't dire. That doesn't mean giving them up is easy.</p><p>Therapist <a href="https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_should_you_go_to_therapy" target="_blank">Lori Gottlieb</a>, author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, worries that people might discount their losses as trivial by comparing themselves to others who may be suffering more serious losses, such as losing a job or loved one. But, she adds, not being able to fulfill life dreams or expectations can be painful, too, and may require grieving.</p><p>"People need to be able to talk about what they're experiencing, because these are real losses," she says. "We're not here to rank each other's losses in terms of which one is more valid or which one is more significant."</p><p>She points to her own losses from the coronavirus outbreak—her teen son will miss his last semester of eighth grade, and she can't hold a funeral after her father's death or sit shiva for him (a Jewish tradition that helps the bereaved honor the passing of their loved ones). Dismissing those losses or not accepting our feelings of loss is not the answer.</p><p>"As parents, partners, family members, and friends, we need to allow people to talk about the things that they're missing," she says.</p><p>That doesn't preclude reframing a loss in more positive terms or looking for potential <a href="https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/finding_silver_linings" target="_blank">silver linings</a> in our current experience, she adds. Being at home with less to do and more free time may give people new opportunities for intimacy, such as calling up old friends or spending time with children who are usually away at school.</p><p>"Instead of focusing on the things that you don't have, you can look at all of the new things that you do have right now," she says. "There's a lot to be gained in the midst of loss, in the form of community and connection."</p>
How to Make New Rituals<p>Sheltering in place could also inspire people to create alternative events to mark special occasions, she says, such as a Zoom dance party to celebrate a graduation, which might even end up being more memorable than what was originally planned.</p><p>Jan Stanley, who works as a celebrant—someone who designs rituals for weddings and funerals—says that it's not hard to create rituals online, if you keep certain things in mind. She suggests that you:</p><p>• Ask people to bring to their online gathering something symbolic to share, such as a candle to light, a memory or story, a picture, or a poem. Getting people to contribute in that way can help create a sense of oneness.</p><p>• Mark the moment by having someone provide an opening statement that designates the beginning of any ritual and explains the purpose of being there. That sets the tone and makes people realize that this is a special moment in time and not just another online meeting.</p><p>• Create emotional highs, perhaps using music, dancing, poetry, moments of silence, or something else with high emotional resonance to augment the experience.</p><p>• Always have a distinct ending that includes an emotional peak, because people <a href="https://positivepsychology.com/what-is-peak-end-theory/" target="_blank">tend to remember</a> an event better that way.</p><p>Though an online ritual may lack some of the power of an in-person ritual, says Stanley, it still has value. Even doing rituals alone can be useful, she adds, if it's meaningful. Research suggests that creating rituals just for ourselves can help <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23398180" target="_blank">alleviate grief</a> after loss and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29771567" target="_blank">make us feel less out of control</a>, which could help now, when the world seems so uncertain.</p><p>"If you can design a ritual to be meaningful—so that it actually touches your heart or brings someone to mind or gives you a sense of your own purpose—all the better," she says.</p><p>Gabriel, the social psychologist, encourages people to also look beyond formalized rituals to everyday opportunities to share positive emotion and a sense of solidarity from a distance.</p>
By Dan Gray
It's been more than 2 months since self-isolation and shuttered businesses became the norm in most of North America due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Are People Holding Up?<p><a href="https://lifespringcounseling.net/melissa-wesner-lcpc" target="_blank">Melissa Wesner</a>, LCPC, a licensed clinical professional counselor and founder of LifeSpring Counseling Services, told Healthline that while there are some commonalities to the way people are responding to the pandemic, individual responses can vary.</p><p>"There are some situations that are similar across the board and other responses depend on each person's unique life experiences," she explained.</p><p>"For example, many people who work from home at a computer are reporting fatigue and eye strain. Even people who would not identify as extroverts are reporting missing the opportunity to physically be with friends, family, and co-workers."</p><p>While phone calls and video chats provide a much-needed social outlet, Wesner says that these seemingly paradoxical interactions — socializing while socially distancing — don't completely fill the void for many people.</p>
Helping Yourself<p>With the comforting routines of day-to-day life disrupted, most experts suggest creating new routines.</p><p>Physical fitness is something that could fall by the wayside with gyms closed and people cooped up at home.</p><p>"A lot of people aren't exercising, so it's very easy to get into a sedentary lifestyle, which can contribute to not sleeping well at night, which contributes to fatigue during the daytime," Fristad said.</p><p>To combat this, Fristad suggests sticking to some kind of routine or schedule, even if it isn't as rigid as the pre-pandemic norm.</p><p>Virtual exercise classes are widely available in this new era of video chats. With spring weather taking hold, it's also a good time to responsibly enjoy some sunshine.</p>
Helping Others<p>Many people, particularly those who don't have children living at home or who are already accustomed to working from home, haven't seen their lives significantly disrupted.</p><p>While people in this demographic may be coping adequately, they likely have friends or loved ones who aren't doing so well.</p><p>It may not be possible to gather with friends or give a hug to an extended family member, but technology makes it fairly straightforward to check in with friends and loved ones.</p><p>"The idea of 'connect five' is a great idea," Fristad said. "If you try to reach out every day to at least five people, it can provide support for you and for them."</p><p>"We know that being kind and charitable to other people boosts our own mood, so reaching out and being that cheerful presence for somebody else — maybe by playing a game online with them or just connecting via phone or video conferencing — is a great thing to do," she said.</p>
By Vivian Zayas
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be "imprinted on the personality of our nation for a very long time," predicted Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.