Stuck At Home? Now What?

Stuck At Home? Now What?

By
Dr. Alicia La Hoz

I grew up in South Florida, where hurricane season would come and go each year. Each time a hurricane would threaten to come our way, we would: glue ourselves to the news channel, sign up for the weather alerts, and empty the grocery stores of everything we could get our hands on. Our anxiety would shoot through the roof, people would board their homes up, and then all sorts of family drama would play out (family stuck inside brewing under uncertain conditions is not a good mix). In the rare years when a hurricane did hit, we met our neighbors while picking up tree debris, and shared stories of how we survived the blackouts by barbecuing and finding creative ways to feed everyone.

With the current state of fear precipitated by COVID-19, I am reminded of some of these experiences. The pandemic has raised some alarming concerns worldwide that have drawn attention to some areas we should pay attention to, such as healthcare access. It also has created some panic type behaviors that can be harmful. It is a good time to remind ourselves that many people cope with stressors in different ways. Some respond in more healthy ways than others. And all of us, when experiencing acute emotions, are susceptible to making a lot of mistakes. So what should we do to manage well?

Do . . .

Put things in perspective.

History has shown us time and time again that we can overcome a crisis. People are overall resilient, and we will bounce back. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that the number of confirmed infections in the U.S. is extremely low. The fact that there is a great deal of news coverage on this issue does not necessarily mean that someone in your family will get sick, especially if you’re taking the necessary precautions.

Stick to the Facts

There is a lot of misleading information and memes out there. Go to a trustworthy source for facts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a webpage dedicated to information on the coronavirus outbreak. You may also find useful information from local or state public health agencies.

Communicate with your children

Discuss the news coverage of the coronavirus with accurate and age-appropriate information. Remember that children will mirror the behaviors and emotions that they see. They take cues on how to manage their feelings from the adults in their lives. Cope well, and you are teaching them how to cope with stressful situations.

Re-calibrate

If you and your kids are home due to work and school cancellations, spend some time coming up with a game plan for how you will tackle being at home and managing household life with work mixed in.

Review some community rules for this season

Set up a family meeting and talk through what it will mean to work and live at home. Discuss expectations, and review some healthy family life rules (i.e., be respectful, clean up after yourself, care for one another). Come up with a plan of how to respond if someone in your family does get sick. Identify who will take care of who.

Play

Instead of using electronics all day, take out the board games, mind games, and have some fun with your family. Playing and laughing are great for the spirit.

Keep a schedule

Routine gives a sense of control. When things seem out of control, anything you can do to gain some routine in your life may help the uneasiness. Create a schedule for you and your family while at home. Create time for being together and apart.

Read

While online streaming may be enjoying a steady surge right now, remember to read. Reading is an excellent opportunity to grow, learn, and relax. You can even download an audiobook that the whole family can enjoy similar to when you take a car trip.

Show grace

When emotions are high, people can respond to remarks or nonverbals in ways they usually would not. And in turn, we can get defensive and retaliate with sarcasm, a bitter tone, or a sassy remark. Remember to show kindness, to be loving, and remember that you may not know the full story of another’s plight.

Reflect, meditate, pray

Come together as a family, and read a prayer, read a reflection, listen to music, remember what you are grateful for. These things can help ground you and refocus you and your family on what matters most.

Don’t. . .

Watch news all day long

In the same way we tell substance abuse addicts to not frequent situations or events that expose them to their addiction, limit the amount of information you consume that feeds the angst. Watching the news cycle on repeat will only feed the obsession, which will feed the anxiety. You can stay informed by checking the news once or twice a day, but beyond that you are susceptible to getting swept away by the hype, and that can rock your nerves and leave you feeling restless.

Do more than what is recommended or expected

Follow the recommendations provided in terms of washing hands, staying a healthy social distance, and disinfecting your work areas and limit going to heavily crowded areas. However, be careful not to create more rules than are necessary.

Get swept away

Indeed, it is wise to prepare for your family. Do so thoughtfully and resist getting swept away and getting things you may not even need.

Let’s remember, “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength today.” Corrie Ten Boom.

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For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

5 Fun Date Ideas

5 Fun Date Ideas

By
Jose-Andres Alegria

Ever have a friend that is just smart and creative with the date ideas that they come up with for their significant other? My college roommate, Tyler, is an absolute genius when it comes to date ideas, so of course, my first thought was to have him write this blog. But sadly, Tyler is too busy with grad school, a full-time job, and a girlfriend to help me out. But I would be doing him an injustice if I didn’t shout him out for giving me his list of top 5 dates. So thanks, Ty! Anyways, here are some fresh date ideas. Nothing fancy, but maybe a little more meaningful than an expensive dinner at a restaurant. So here it goes.

TOP 5 DATE IDEAS ACCORDING TO TYLER

1. Starting at number one on our list is the ” Rooftop dinner under the Stars ” date. Now, while this might seem cliche as it is in every Rom Com movie ever, it works. You have either the option of cooking the dinner yourself or, if you don’t trust your skills in the kitchen, grabbing food from your favorite restaurant. While this date is a great idea, it might not be the best thing for winter, so keep it in your back pocket for when summer rolls around so you can enjoy the beautiful weather and even better company.

Tyler’s Notes: You can substitute a rooftop with the bed of a truck or the trunk of a car.

2. Coming in at number 2 on our list, we have bike rides/walks through charming neighborhoods or parks. This is another summertime date. No one is trying to ride a bike in 20-degree weather. I like this one because you don’t have to talk all that much, sometimes it’s just nice to enjoy each other’s company. But when you’re itching to spend some time outdoors, walking around is an enjoyable way to spend some one-on-one time with your partner.

Tyler’s Notes: Bring some food. Food always makes things better, especially dates.

3. At number 3, and my personal favorite is a food truck crawl . Thanks to the internet, it’s not hard to find out where the best food trucks like to congregate. Look it up, and go out there for dinner one night. Nothing beats a meal consisting of food from 5 different places. Plus, this solves the issue of you wanting tacos for dinner, and your partner craving a hamburger. You both can get what you want and then some. And when all is said and done, and all the food is gone, pull out your phone and leave some collective yelp reviews for your favorite trucks. Let your inner foodie come out.

Tyler’s Notes: BYOW – Bring your own wine.

4. Number 4 on the list is a sentimental scavenger hunt. Who doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt? They can be pretty tricky to set up; coming up with clues is easier said than done. But if you use special hints that encourage your significant other to revisit locations that you both hold dear around town, then it will only make the night all the more memorable. Lead them on a path down memory lane, stopping and just reminiscing can be a charming time. Plus, it lets you hit up all of your favorite spots, and what could be better than that?

5.Cook a meal together comes in at number 5 on our list. And by meal, I don’t mean what you would typically have, like Taco Tuesday. Think of a dish from a restaurant you both love and try to recreate it. It will most likely be terrible, but as long as you had fun making it, then it was worth it. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You make a terrible meal and laugh along the way with someone you love?

These dates are supposed to maximize your time together while also leaving room to enjoy each other’s company. But what good is spending time together if you have to break the bank to do it? Most of the dates on the list are budget-friendly, excluding the bikes; all it takes is some forethought and a little planning, but isn’t that the best date, the one that holds meaning. So get to planning, and have an amazing date. And if you don’t have any, I blame Tyler; this is his list after all.

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For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

New Beginnings

New Beginnings

By
Caleb Simula

I’ve spent many evenings watching the sunset from my tree stand, but I have never felt my soul renewed in the same way that a sunrise from the same tree stand makes me feel. My favorite bible verse to meditate on while in the woods is Psalms 143:8. It says, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Each morning, whether it be from the old maple tree that my stand is in or from the 6 am morning traffic in the Chicago suburbs, I find myself thankful for the new opportunities each sunrise brings.

I grew up on a small hobby farm, right off a dirt road in a fairly remote part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My dad and my grandfather are the two people who helped me understand the importance of seeing every morning as a new beginning. When I was a junior in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do for work once I graduated. One day we had a representative from the local college come to our class to talk to us about skilled trades classes that they offer to seniors. During this time, I had my three close friends John, Dylan, and Andrew. We all decided to take their welding class just so that we didn’t have to be in school for half of the day. Once I realized how fun and rewarding a welding career could be, I knew that it’s what I wanted to make a career out of, I packed my bags and said goodbye to my parents. The time had come for me to begin a new chapter in my life.

I accepted a third shift welding job in a small Minnesota city called Detroit Lakes, about an hour east of Fargo, North Dakota. Here is where I experienced a completely new process of welding. When learning welding in high school, they only taught us the absolute basics of welding. I was ecstatic to learn the new way to weld, and I put my welding hood down every night, eager to hone my skill. One night when welding production was slow, my shift lead pulled me into his office and asked me to help out in the tubing department. With the same amount of drive I had for learning welding, I now put into learning how to use tube bending machines. I knew that the more new types of jobs I could learn, the better my resume would look. Plus, it got me out of my welding cubicle and into a new part of the building. I made so many mistakes while working in the tubing department, but that didn’t stop me from loving the benefits of learning new skills. Throughout the one and a half years I was working here, I was also dating a beautiful girl from south Florida, her name is Erin. We had met when I was 15, and she was 13 and began dating my senior year of high school. One day I realized that I didn’t want to date her from such long distances. So this snow-loving, forest exploring welder once again packed up his bags and moved to the concrete jungle of Cooper City, Florida.

To provide for myself while looking for welding jobs, I had to take a landscaping job. Now, everyone else that has lived in South Florida knows that landscaping is probably the last job a Florida resident would want, let alone some kid from Michigan who would run around in the snow with no shoes and only a pair of shorts on, for FUN. It didn’t stop me; I was on top of the world. For the first time in my life, I was living a few towns over from the girl I loved. I worked insane hours in the Florida sun. Finally, after six months of job searching, I accepted a welding job working on multi-million dollar yachts. This is where I again experienced a completely new process of welding. With this new job came a whole new opportunity to learn all over again.

After about two years at that job, I gathered Erin and her two cousins along with John, my best friend from high school, and his girlfriend, and we went down to the Florida keys for the day. Everyone but Erin knew the real reason why we made such a special trip. As Kristina (Erin’s cousin) and I placed candles in the shape of a heart, my actual heart was beating a million miles an hour. Was I about to ask Erin for her hand in marriage? Am I ready for such a new stage of life? Of course, I was, so with her father’s blessing and her family’s approval on the evening of January 3rd, I got down on one knee, and through a flood of tears and snot, I somehow managed to ask her to marry me. She said YES! Now came all the wedding planning. And on a cold rainy day on August 20th, in the front yard of my grandparent’s house in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Erin and I, along with her family, my family, and with a few of our closest friends, we exchanged our vows. After our honeymoon, we resumed our lives in South Florida. Erin graduated from the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale with an associate’s degree in graphic design. Only one month after she graduated, we found ourselves packing all we owned into a U-Haul and moving across the country to the Chicago suburbs.

In the suburbs of Chicago, we are only a short six-hour drive to my parents’ house and an even shorter three-hour flight back to South Florida. With completely new territory came a whole new set of beginnings. Erin got a job doing what she went to college for, and I found a new welding job. You guessed it! My new job consists of a whole new process of welding. We had to find a new church, which took some time, but we are finally at a church where we feel at home. For my most recent “New Beginning,” we recently found out that Erin is pregnant with our first child. I have never been so excited about a new stage in life than I am now. As I look back, all of the early mornings I found myself in my tree stand praising God for a new sunrise, a new day, a new opportunity. I see that there is no better time to start new than in the morning. I hope you’re not afraid to fail when encountering new beginnings because there will, for sure, be a new opportunity to try again in the morning.

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For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

Fear is the mind-killer

Fear is the mind-killer

By
José-Andrés Alegría

Donovan Mitchell, star shooting guard for the Utah Jazz, once wrote “determination over negativity.” I remember reading his piece in The Player’s Tribune and immediately sending it to my mom. I felt like I was reading about my childhood, but I wasn’t the one who wrote it. Just like in his article, I was always a hyper kid, always active. And my mom had to let me run wild, within reason of course. If my childhood had a soundtrack it would have been the constant THUNK THUNK THUNK of a ball, any ball I could get my little hands on, bouncing off of the wall. Had there been Fitbits back in the day, I would have cleared 30,000 steps a day quickly. That’s until I tore my ACL in my sophomore year of high school. It sucked. But it wasn’t the actual injury that was the worst part. It wasn’t that I couldn’t play soccer that season. It wasn’t that I had to be conscientious of every step with my bum leg until I got it fixed. It was feeling trapped in my own body. Not being able to run around, let alone walk. It was debilitating, mentally. Tearing my ACL was the most prominent injury I had ever gotten up until that point. I had broken a bunch of bones, gotten hit by a car, cracked my sternum; they’re the reason my fingers crack every time I make a fist or my ankles make a pop whenever I go up the stairs. But my ACL was something entirely different. It was weeks of hard work to be able to bend my knee past 90 degrees comfortably, then another few weeks of learning to walk without crutches, then learning to walk without a knee brace so that I could eventually learn to run without it. It was a drag, and it wasn’t until recently that I noticed that my past injury was still affecting me mentally.

With the luck of a black cat, I tore my other ACL in my sophomore year of college. That was about four years ago. I never got it fixed. It sounds dumb, but I thought that by not getting it fixed, I was saving myself from the dark headspace I had gotten into back in high school. What I didn’t realize was that I missed being able to run around and play sports. I got into a complacent mindset that sitting inside was somehow good for me. Crazy, I know! And what made me realize that I missed playing sports was anime (Japanese cartoon). Yes, I’m a nerd who watches anime, but I seldom watch sports anime. I think they are dumb. Well, I thought they were until, for whatever reason, I decided to watch HAIKYU. It’s an anime that centers around a short high school volleyball player who dreams of being the best. Not to go too in-depth, but this reignited something in me. Or maybe I should say, it made me remember a piece of me I had forgotten.

That’s why, on December 3rd, I had surgery to fix my ACL. It has been a long and arduous journey to try to get back to normal and it has only been 4 weeks, but this time I knew what to expect. I have a goal. And more importantly, I have a group of friends, who even though I live 1300 miles away from them, have held accountable, kept me positive, and are ready to the ball whenever I go home to visit. I have been tired of making excuses. Just tired of just sitting around and doing nothing all day. I’m going to be able to make it back out on to the court, whether it’s for volleyball, basketball, or something else.

For as long as I remember, I have run, jumped, skipped, or played my way through my life. I have never let anything keep me down. If I ever fell, I got up right away, ready to try it again. Failure was always a challenge to better myself. But then I went down and never really ever got back up. Ten year-old me would be so mad at 22 year-old me for “being a quitter.” No one expects to remain the same as when they were a kid, but I went from someone who loved being outside and running around to someone who hates being outside. But what I hate is the fear I have of injuring myself. “Fear is the mind-killer” is something I have tattooed on my body, and yet for the last four years, I have let fear dictate my life. So for the New Year and as a general readjustment in my life, I am fixing my knee, fixing my state of mind, and as a whole, not letting fear dictate my life. “Determination over negativity,” remember?

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For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

Learning to Compromise

Learning to Compromise

By
Omaira Gonzalez

My husband and I took a trip to Menards to pick tiles this weekend. We finally agreed that it was time to do some remodeling in our home.

Now, I do not know how this usually works in your marriage, but in mine, we can’t seem to agree 85% of the time. He likes one thing, I want another, and we will spend what should have been a 30 minutes trip at the store to a whole field trip. We cannot seem to pick tiles we both like, but now we have to go to all the other stores to compare.

Guess what? Nothing had changed from when we went to Menards the first time. We still have different tastes, and we each are trying very hard to win this war of the tiles.

After a few stores, I accept that this is a battle not worth carrying out into the field. So I ask for a truce, and we decide to compromise. We look at each design we like, and then we narrowed our search to the one that is most similar to both his taste and mine. Now, what would that have looked like if we had done that in the beginning? We would have saved countless hours at the store and had time to go to a restaurant and enjoy a nice meal.

In relationships, many times, we will not always get our way. However, we have to compromise. What do I mean by this? In marriage, we both come into the relationship with our interests, desires, ideas, and tastes. Compromising is more like working together towards a favorable outcome for both. This not only pertains to small decisions but also big ones.

Of course, the small compromises in a marriage can be pretty easy to make (or not); however, they are just as important. For example, you want seafood, and your spouse wants steak. A compromise is to choose a restaurant that has both. How about a more substantial compromise? How about buying a house? You may want a particular style of home, and your spouse may want another. You want to live in a particular neighborhood, and your spouse wants to live somewhere else. I have been there! While this may take some negotiating, it is important for you and your spouse to work towards common goals and to consider each other’s point of view. Now when you do reach a happy compromise…celebrate.

Compromising does not have to be negative; the key is to find a win-win. Here is a tip that can help when you both are struggling with compromising:

Listen: Ask questions about what he/she wants or likes. Listen to each other’s point of view. If you do not understand something, ask. Trying to push your idea or wants onto someone else without considering them can lead to frustration and behaviors such as sarcasm. Make an effort to understand and hear your spouse out…you may find what the win-win is for both in the conversation.

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For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges