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Writing a personal note can help bring you, and the recipient, out of a funk, Ray Matlock Smythe says. (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images file)

“Ray, I just don’t think I can take it anymore. The worries of the pandemic, the protests in the streets and the chaos in Washington, DC. It is all too much. I am depressed. What can I do to end my anxiety?”

This was the question a good friend of mine asked me last week. I believe he is not alone. I know that his concerns are echoed by many valley residents. 

So here are some tips from a retired teacher on how to weather our current challenges: 

Michelle Obama said “Choose people who lift you up.” I think this is very important. You must surround yourself with people who support and like you. Hanging out with negative people will only make you feel worse during these times of uncertainty. 

I live in a wonderful neighborhood. We have had a walking group for 20 years, but once COVID-19 invaded our lives, we stopped walking. So, instead we now have a Zoom coffee hour every day at 9 a.m. It keeps us connected and informed about each other’s lives. It is upbeat and fun. Getting a Zoom group together of either family or friends is one way to navigate life right now. 

Each day I write one or two cards to family members or friends. People love to get a personal handwritten note. Texts and emails are fine, but it is extra special to get a greeting card in the mail. It makes me feel good to brighten someone’s day. I am also attempting to make at least one phone call to someone each day. We spend so much time on our computers and smartphones texting, but we rarely talk a lot anymore. Hearing another person’s voice is wonderful. Folks appreciate the phone calls. It is good for your soul to think of someone else besides yourself. 

Expanding your knowledge base is another coping method. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) on the Cal State Palm Desert campus is a great way to feel energized. This program is for adults 50+ who want to take university level classes, but there are no tests or homework assignments. It is simply for the joy of learning. The campus is closed because of the pandemic, but now classes are done on Zoom. Summer session starts in August. Go to OLLI’s website to see if you can find some courses that you would enjoy taking.  

This is the perfect time to read some great books. I love mysteries and have been reading some of the old Agatha Christie books. Escaping into a book is a wonderful distraction. I am attempting to limit the amount of time I watch news on the television. It can really bring you down quickly, so I feel that less is more.  

If you are motivated, this can be a time to do all sorts of projects around the house. Of course, summer is quite hot so you might want to take on small projects during July and August.

I hope these suggestions help citizens find a little more purpose and serenity during these difficult times. Let me leave you with this inspirational quote I saw the other day, “May every Sunrise hold more promise and every Sunset more peace.” — Author unknown 

Ray Matlock Smythe is an author and retired teacher. He wrote “Tips To Improve Your Teaching Experience.” He can be reached at Rayme49@aol.com. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.desertsun.com/story/opinion/contributors/valley-voice/2020/07/20/positive-connections-can-help-you-get-through-trying-times-ray-matlock-smythe-valley-voice/5462700002/