Feb 08

Give Your Mind a Mini-Vacation

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Dancing is a way to remind us of our strength and belief in ourselves."

Dancing was the one thing that came naturally to me. I enjoyed letting the music dictate what moves my body would make. I didn't think about counting steps or paying attention to what my arms and feet were doing. It was an incredible feeling of freedom. I wasn't performing for anyone. I danced for myself. Growing up, I went to school parties. I knew the different line dances that everyone did, but I found them boring after a while. Eventually, I would find a corner and dance the way I wanted to. I would get asked how do I make my hips continuously move from the rhythm to the melody. I didn't have an answer because I never thought about it while spinning around.

When I was in college, a friend told me that my dance moves remind her of a belly dancer. That evening as I was walking across campus, I spotted an ad for Middle Eastern dance classes posted on a bulletin board. Destiny is a funny thing. Of course, I had to check it out. I walked into my first class with a sense of fun and excitement, but that changed quickly. All of sudden, I felt as awkward as a duck. I'm watching the beautiful instructor glide through the various motions, and I feel like I'm moving through quicksand. I felt like everyone was watching and judging me as I tried to count and turn with them.

I never had any structure to my dancing before or told how and when to move. I suddenly had to be mindful of what my body was doing. I tried to mimic exactly what the teacher was doing and found it frustrating. When I looked in the mirror to practice, it was disheartening. As hard as I tried, I couldn't replicate the same movements.

Looking back, I'm glad I continued taking lessons. The discipline and focus helped me become a professional belly dancer and did wonders for my confidence. It made me realize the importance of pushing forward when learning something new. I needed the foundation, skill, and principles of Middle Eastern dance first. When I stopped trying to compare myself with my instructor, I found my own style. The best thing about belly dancing is that all the moves look distinctive on each dancer. It makes sense; we're all built differently.

When I taught dancing, my students would tell me how uncoordinated they felt. I explained that we all feel that way in the beginning. The more we practice, the more we'll start to see everything fall into place. Dancing shouldn't be stressful. It should only be joyful. The best part for me was to see women transform from being self-conscious to being self-assured. The greatest reward for me was watching these women walk with their shoulders back and their heads held high. Dancing is a way to remind us of our strength and belief in ourselves.

I take my advice and apply it to the challenges I've set out for myself. I know that my journey isn't going to look like anyone else's. I stay open to good advice and constructive criticism to continue to make my presentations fun and informative. I know to turn down the volume on self-doubt's negative voice, and that is to be mindful of how I'm holding myself. Once I change my stance to one where I'm smiling, and my posture is strong, everything falls into place.

If you're finding yourself feeling anxious or fearful, put on some music, sing and dance. It's the quickest way to connect your mind and body and bring you into the present. It gives your mind a mini-vacation that will help you feel more relaxed and energized. Dance in the privacy of your home unless you feel the need to put your show on TikTok. Either way, you'll feel a lot better.

Feb 01

Zoom Meeting Where Everyone’s a Star

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Poise and Professionalism Will Always Get You Noticed."

Virtual meetings have become the norm, and I'd like to share my observations to help you make a great impression. I worked as a camera operator, assistant director, and director for a cable outlet and a public television station. I learned a few tips from watching the talking heads (anchor people and hosts), and I want to pass them on to you.

Whether you realize it or not, when you turn your camera on and unmute for a virtual meeting, other people can see and hear you. I've watched participants fix their hair, put lotion on, yawn without covering their mouths or start talking to someone who walked into the room. I've seen people pick up their device and put it down, so now we're all looking at the floor or ceiling. I've watched people sit in the dark like they're in a witness protection interview. It's funny, but it's bothersome and, ultimately, disrespectful.

Here are a few suggestions to help you stand out from the crowd in a good way.

When you watch the news, you'll notice that the person front and center never touch their face or hair. Once there's a commercial break, they will quickly fix up a bit. They may take a sip of water, check their makeup or clear their throat. You can do all of this before you turn your camera on for your meeting. If your attending event is long and you need to get up, turn your camera off and mute yourself. Get back as quickly as possible. Most people recognize that we're at home, and we may need to deal with varying situations. Trust me, we don't want to watch you blow your nose, pick spinach from your teeth or rub your eyes. Everyone should do their best to look and be professional.

It's not easy having a give and take with an online audience. Be engaged with the speaker. Sit up straight, shoulders back, head lifted, and smile. Nod your head to show you agree. Lean in to show interest. These small movements mean a great deal to a host trying to connect and get their information across.

Bookcases seem to be the background of choice. It's a little distracting for me, though. I'm trying to see what the titles are. I want to know if I've read some of the books or not. If your space isn't camera-ready, use a virtual set. Most platforms have built-in filters you can use even if you don't have a green screen. The only problem is you may disappear if you move too far back or to the side. Pay attention by checking your monitor once in a while to make sure you're being seen. I think the best backdrop is as clean as possible with very little to distract an audience. If the only choice is your bedroom, make the bed and pick up any laundry off the floor. I can't believe how many messy bedrooms I've seen in the last few months.

Frame yourself so that there's a small amount of space above your head. I've seen people sit way too far back as if they don't want to be noticed. I've also watched people sit to one side, so part of them is cut off. It's disconcerting seeing only half a face like a scene from Willy Wonka. Before you join a meeting, check your audio and video before you start. There's a link that says, "Test your microphone or speaker." When you click on it, a window will open for you to test both. You can also click on "video" and check your picture to make sure you're centered and lit correctly. Ideally, the light source should be in front of you. If the light is behind you, it will cast a shadow, and you'll be hard to see by everyone. Wear bright clothing, so you don't blend into the background. The small details add up to help you stand out and be your impressive self.

Take advantage of any opportunity to put your best foot forward. You never know who might take notice of your poise and professionalism. We are the stars of our production, so let's make it great. I will be happy not to feel the need to yell "Cut!" when I see someone on Zoom scratching their backside. Again, we can see you. 

Jan 26

Don’t Let The Bullies Win!

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"It takes courage and conviction to follow through on our ideas."
I came across a story today about a woman who decided to force herself out of her comfort zone and learn more about social media. She was introduced to TikTok and challenged herself to go on it. She goes by the name Granny Coy Bundy and does her best to spread joy and positivity. Her dance videos have gone viral, and with her newfound fame came the cyberbullies. She wanted to ignore them and enjoy her 2.6 million followers who loved her, but the nasty responses kept coming. She wasn't concerned for herself, but she was worried for her young audience. Coy Bundy spoke about love and forgiveness, but the negative comments were overwhelming. She decided to take a break and remove herself from all social media.

It's a sad commentary that there's this kind of hate in the world. We can all have differences in opinion and perspective, but to sink to berating a person trying to spread goodwill is cruel. I know the internet is full of trolls, but this ugliness is on another level. It's easy to tear a person down, but what's the point of that? Does this action somehow give the bully a feeling of superiority? Do they receive some kind of satisfaction that they hurt someone's feelings and made them feel less than? What does that say about their own state of mind?

I believe the person who can stoop to such a low level is the one to be pitied. There's something innately wrong when a person can derive pleasure from insulting another. I know that small-minded people will continue to offend from the safety of their couch, but we can't let that unhappy mindset keep us from doing what we love.

It's never easy putting ourselves in the public eye. Presenting our creations and talent, knowing we will be judged harshly, is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage and conviction to follow through on our ideas. If we succumb to the faceless, petty people and not share ourselves, we will be the ones to regret it. We have to trust that what we have to offer is valuable and continuously work to make it the best.

For Granny Coy Bundy, an exciting thing happened, Sherri Shepherd (former View co-host) reached out to her. "I am sorry you have to be dealing w the haters. Please know you bring joy to so many."

"I didn't think that I was even noticed like that," Coy Bundy says. "I didn't know that I could inspire or make other people happy that inspire me and that makes me happy. It's literally surreal. It makes you speechless."

I'm so glad this lovely lady found validation for sharing her talent. How great that Sherri Shepherd took the time to reach out and let Bundy know that she appreciated her work. I believe we all need to lift each other with encouragement and support. We all contribute to society one way or another. Our growth depends on building and expanding our knowledge, and that includes improving our humanity as well.

I hope Granny Coy Bundy's story inspires you to put yourself out there to share your message, talent, and joy.

Here's the whole story by Kerry Justich. TikTok Famous Grandma,47, leaves app after getting cyberbullied by Gen-Z users.

Jan 19

Tweak Your Life

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"The Biggest Trick in Life is Making it All Look Easy."
My husband, Eric, is a professional magician. Before you say anything, the answer is yes, he's tried many times to make me disappear, but that's not what this article is about. It's about watching the progression of a magic piece he's developing. The first time he showed it to me, I was impressed. It was surprising and beautiful at the same time. I thought he couldn't make it any better, and yet, he continues to work and improve it in tiny increments. Eric has shared his new effect with a few trusted magicians to get their feedback and suggestions. It's interesting to watch his work evolve, and I realize that's what sets an artist apart. Taking the time and effort to create something unique and interesting requires several adjustments.

Life is like that. Living up to our potential and doing our best means always looking for ways to improve ourselves. It's being open to constructive criticism and not being offended. We may find it hard to ask for help because we feel we're admitting defeat. The opposite is the reality. We're showing others that we want to grow and willing to take advice. Think about what you're involved with right now. Do you feel confident in your communication skills? Are you prepared for your Zoom meeting? What are you making for dinner? Seriously, what's for dinner? I'm running out of ideas.

Speaking of food, the right combination of seasonings can make a big difference when cooking a meal. It's trial and error until we find that perfect blend. I've ruined a few dinners when trying a new recipe. (Who knew that too much cheese could ever be a bad thing?) Learning a skill can be frustrating in the beginning. If you want to be proficient, you'll keep at it until it becomes a part of you. Once you have a strong foundation of your newly acquired talent, the attention to detail will hone your expertise.

The performers and artists I know are never satisfied with their work. I find that same drive in other professions as well. Are you the top salesperson in your company? Have you received an MVP award for your team? Do you have the Best Mom in the World coffee cup? Well, you don't have the last one, because my Mom has it.

The way to stay engaged in our lives is to strive for excellence. When you need some guidance, seek out a mentor. Talk to your family and friends and ask for support and encouragement when you doubt your abilities. There are resources on the internet where groups of like-minded people get together and brainstorm concepts. It's challenging to be innovative in a vacuum. We need to bounce off our thoughts and ideas to others. It could be a simple word or perception from another person that makes everything click. It's a fantastic feeling to have an epiphany and solve an issue you've been struggling with that brings your product or service to life.

The small things matter when it comes to presenting your work. Take the time to tweak and adjust. Practice your introduction before meeting with a potential client. Take note of what is and isn't working for you at a networking event. When planning a project, ask for feedback and recommendations from people you hold in high esteem. Develop the mindset that you're always evolving and creating for your audience. You never know who will be inspired and motivated by your example. The biggest trick is making it look easy. People may not recognize your hard work and hours of preparation, but they will appreciate the results.

I have to make a delicious dinner now before my husband tries once again to make me disappear.
Jan 12

To Find Success-Show Up!

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Success only happens when you show up."

Woody Allen said in an interview that he believed eighty percent of success is showing up. I've heard this over the years, and I know other people have said the same thing in one way or another. It seemed odd that this piece of advice was necessary. I mean, of course, you're supposed to show up for work, class, or an event. Why wouldn't you? If there were an emergency keeping you from your commitment, that would be understandable. I learned over the years that many people simply don't show up.

I talked to Jane Parmel, an excellent business coach, who like me, had been in the hospitality business for years. She said one of the reasons her company stood out was her reputation for showing up on time, being professional and personable. She was surprised to find that many vendors hired for events didn't bother to show up or even call to say there was a problem. Jane said this kind of absenteeism is so prevalent that she found herself having to take on other roles at the last minute.

One time she had to dress up as a clown for a children's party when the person they hired was a no show. "I'm having stage fright, and I feel ridiculous at the same time. I was so worried that I wouldn't be funny until my partner pointed out how silly I already looked." Luckily, the children were entertained, and the party was saved. This sense of responsibility is what cemented Jane's well-deserved notoriety.

I told Jane that many of the jobs I had happened because I showed up when no one else did. I was in college, trying to work out ways to make money when I was offered a job as a cocktail waitress. I was sitting in the club enjoying the music when the bartender came over to my table. He said, "I have a packed house, and my waitress didn't show up for work. One of the guys in the band said you're looking for a job. Would you like one right now?"

This scenario played out in my favor again and again. I worked the phones for a brokerage house for the summer because the receptionist stopped showing up for work. I worked as a DJ for a club when their house DJ didn't come in. I was a substitute teacher, a bartender, a director's assistant, and a last-minute drummer for a band all because somebody didn't show up.

Opportunities for success are all around us. When we make assurances to a business or social event, our presence is felt as well as our absence. I've seen Zoom networking events get canceled because most of the registered participants didn't come on. There's quite a bit of planning to put on these virtual meetups, and it's disappointing when they don't happen. Sometimes, the coordinator goes ahead and works with the people who do appear. I've been able to network, get advice, and make new friends because there was more time to do so. Once again, showing up worked to my advantage.

My advice is to be open to all possibilities. Don't make the mistake and assume a position you want is unattainable. When you take the time and effort to have a foundation of skills and expertise, the chances of finding your niche grows exponentially. Let the people around you know your aspirations. Attend virtual networking events, meetup groups, and webinars. Share your contact information and follow through with a personal message to connect.

When you get that new job, a promotion, or land a client, do yourself a favor and show up. Otherwise, I'll have your position instead.

For more information on Jane Parmel, visit her website: Jane Parmel.com

Jan 05

Abbey Normal

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"I Don't Know How to be Normal. I Only Know How to be Me."
Is it possible to give up on the word "normal"? Bear with me a minute to explain. I know that the society we grow up in has a set of acceptable cultural norms. We learn an unwritten set of rules for participating and contributing to our family and community. Ideas of right and wrong evolve as we learn and gain experience in our world. Growing up, your family is your universe, and you don't know anything different. As you get older and meet people, you realize growing up in a home that doubled as Grand Central wasn't the norm. Didn't everybody open their doors at two in the morning for guests? I think "normal' is hard to quantify. I think there are expectations that we set out to achieve, but many times we fall short. The goals laid out for us may not be what we want for ourselves or are so lofty that we're set up for failure. Not everyone wants to be married and have kids by the time they're twenty-five. Not everyone wants to be a doctor or lawyer. Not everyone purposely tries to disappoint their parents, but there's some fun in doing just that.

I believe this fascination with being "normal" puts blinders on us. It gives us a narrow scope of how we view ourselves and others. It keeps us from fitting into what is perceived as "acceptable." "Acceptable" to who; our parents, teachers, friends, and neighbors? I don't know about you, but I've yet to meet anyone that I would consider "normal." Everyone has their own set of perceptions and experiences that shape their mindset. If you spoke to my brothers and sisters separately, you wouldn't think we grew up in the same house. We each have our own renditions of our childhood. Also, you would walk away, feeling none of us had a regular upbringing. Don't feel bad, you didn't either.

I would rather replace the word "normal" with something much more simple. Nice or not so nice. I think this person is friendly and I like hanging out with her. Whatever she does in the privacy of her home that doesn't affect me adversely isn't any of my business. I don't feel the need to judge anyone or put conditions on a relationship. We all have silly quirks and see the world a little differently. Who wants everyone to be the same? Not only would it be boring and uninteresting, but it would also keep us from seeing things in a new light. Philosophy and enlightenment come when we pay attention and gain knowledge from our differences.

I avoid people who are insulting, petty, or rude. I believe respect is a two-way street. I try to give everyone a chance. Sometimes we don't present a great first impression because we're having a bad day or we had too much to drink. It happens to all of us, and I would want someone to give me a second chance as well. Some people I meet I click with right away. Others may take longer, similar to a developing skin rash, but we become friends, warts and all.

Your idea of "normal" is not what I would consider "normal." That's the beauty of meeting and getting to know people. We have the opportunity to learn from each other because we are different. Even though we know not to judge a book by its cover, we tend to label and categorize new acquaintances anyway. If we take the time to get to know people on a deeper level, we may be introduced to some great new stories. We get a chance for inspiration and connections that can last a lifetime.

Be open to other people's views and thought processes. You never know who may motivate and encourage you that will set you on a new path. Whatever you decide on your life's purpose, understand you've upset your parents, again, but it still beats being "normal."
Dec 29

It’s A New Year

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"A New Year, New Challenges, and New Possibilities."
A new year is around the corner. There's a universal anticipation of starting fresh. I get excited about what new possibilities may develop. Granted, 2020 was challenging, unexpected, and life-changing. I may be one of the few people who didn't organize and get rid of unnecessary items. All my useless stuff is still in the closet, under the bed, and behind the couch. ( I betcha didn't know you could hide junk behind the sofa. My husband taught me that one.) I did feel the world take a breath for a moment. The realization we're all in this together and how important it is to take care of each other took hold, except for the woman not wearing a mask who tried to get on the elevator with me. She didn't get the memo.

I think one of the most important takeaways of this past year is our health and well-being. I try to be mindful of my diet, exercise, and taking in plenty of sunshine. I have to admit that the stress and anxiety of world events took their toll, and cookies seemed to be the only answer. When my jeans started to get too tight, it was time to rethink my coping strategy. Practicing mindfulness and meditating did help alleviate some of the pressures I was feeling. What really helped was connecting with friends and family either by phone or Skype.

Talking, laughing, and even crying with others was the best way to deal with the unknown. Virtual get-togethers were my saving grace. I watched friends' graduation, a Bar-Mitzvah and birthday parties. I even made a few new friends through Zoom networking events. I received encouragement, support, and advice as I turned my in-person presentations into online productions. It's amazing how adaptable we can be. I realize how fortunate we all are by having the technology to keep us from feeling completely isolated from each other.

I'm continuously surprised at others' ingenuity. I've been entertained by the wonderful videos people produced while in quarantine. Have you seen the video by Casey Neistat where he and others recreate a scene from Star Wars? Here's the link if you haven't seen it yet. Star Wars Speeder
I've learned a great deal about cooking techniques, new exercise classes, and how to make cauliflower taste like chocolate pudding. I've tried to use the time at home to be productive but also a time to be grateful for what I have.

It's not easy finding a silver lining, but the stories of people's kindness to others have been uplifting. I'm happy for people who finally wrote their book or developed a new skill. It's great to hear families come together and spend quality time with each other. We'll always have challenges to face and overcome. If there's one lesson we learned is that we're not alone. When we need a helping hand or someone who'll listen to us, it's good to know we have each other. The New Year will find us all more vital, more compassionate, and more loving.

I promise when it's safe for us to visit, I will clean behind the couch for you. I wish you a Happy and Wonderful New Year.
Dec 22

The Best Super Hero

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Everyone Should Be A Secret Santa to Someone."

Photo courtesy of Stan and Kent Waldman

Do you believe in Santa Claus? The only correct answer is, Yes! This mythological being is the very essence and spirit of the holiday season. He embodies love, friendship, and the joy of giving. As we close out the year and look forward to a new one, one thing is certain, a visit from Kris Kringle. Many acts of kindness occur under his name, and heartfelt memories are created.

One of my favorite memories of Christmas eve is with my youngest brother, Zach. I told him he would need to get to bed early because Santa doesn't drop off presents until everyone is asleep. He was five years old and a bit skeptical. He looked at me and grinned, "Are you sure Santa is coming?"
"Yes, of course, he's coming. Why would you doubt that?"
All of a sudden, we heard the front door open. I said, "Should we take a peek and see who it is?"
Zach said, "Sure, why not?" Still not believing he would see anybody.
We slowly and quietly crept down the hall, and we could hear somebody in the living room. We looked, and there he was, Santa Claus in person!
Santa looked up and saw us. Zach was so surprised he started crying. He ran back down the hall, and it took a lot of convincing to get him to come back. Santa assured him it was fine that he got caught. He would give Zach his present personally.

Santa comes in many shapes and forms. My friends Eliezer and Lisa Rodriguez dress up as Santa's helpers with their sons, Miquel and Cristian, to hand out toys to families. They've done this for many years in partnership with the YMCA and Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors. They do fundraisers, collect wish lists, do the shopping, wrapping, and delivery. They believe every child should have a special gift from Santa. They tell me that all of their hard work is worth it. The excitement of giving and being involved in their community keeps them all uplifted.

Steve Rodman, a professional Santa for many years, told me that he's no longer Steve when he puts on the costume; he's Santa Claus. He said there's no greater feeling than seeing children and adults be thrilled to see him. The kids hand him pictures and letters as they hug and kiss him. It's a universal love that everyone can feel, and it's a responsibility that he doesn't take lightly. His costume, the bells on his belt, and his laugh are authentic. He listens patiently to each child as they tell him what they want for Christmas. He assures them he knows they've been very good. Isn't that what we all want?

Santa Claus is the superhero that cares and lets us know he appreciates all of us by leaving a gift. There's a sense of global unity that everyone is getting a visit from this jolly old man no matter their culture or beliefs. Superman may be faster than a speeding bullet, but it's Santa that goes around the world and spreads holiday cheer. He inspires us to be like him and to give to others. To love unconditionally and realize that we're not perfect. We all want to love and to be loved. Everyone should be a secret Santa to someone.
Happy Holidays and I hope you get what you wished for.
Dec 15

Hey Mr. Postman

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Letters From the Heart Will Never Go Out of Fashion."
Apparently, I'm considered "old fashioned" because I still like mailing holiday cards to friends and family. "Don't you know everyone sends season's greetings by email, text, or FaceBook? No one bothers with cards anymore." Yes, I know all about the excellent technology at our fingertips, but I like sending and receiving cards and letters. The little girl inside me still gets a kick out of opening up an envelope that isn't a bill. I love the artistic designs of today's cards. They're flashy, fun, and colorful. Emojis are cute, but you can't hold them in your hand. You can't put them in a drawer and take them out once in a while to reread a pleasant memory.

I like sending text messages to people throughout the day. I enjoy sharing jokes and silly cartoons. Once in a while, though, I will find the perfect card for someone and write a personal message to let them know I'm thinking of them. It's a way to stay connected that I believe is more personal. Before the wonderful advancements of technology, writing letters was the best way to keep in touch. I guess a part of me misses that form of communication.

I'm also the type of person that will not text you to see if you're available to talk on the phone. I'll take my chances and call you. I'm fine with leaving a voice mail if you don't pick up. I do find it funny when someone will go to the trouble of texting me a long conversation and then say they're too busy to talk. I'll text back and say I understand, and then they will text for another ten minutes. I must really be "old fashioned" because this makes zero sense to me. Every time I think the person is finished texting, the little bubble appears. Now I feel stuck waiting for more text to arrive. Tell me again how this is more efficient?

Writing a letter allows me to express my feelings on paper. I find I take more time to shape my thoughts that I want to convey. It may be a heartfelt thank you or a walk down memory lane. Sometimes I add a photograph or two. Yes, an actual photo on paper that you can hold or put in a frame. I love pictures, and I have many that adorn my walls. I change them out every so often. I have a million images on my computer, but it's not the same. I know I'm "old fashioned."

When I drop a line to my family or friends, it lifts my mood instantly. I feel happier when I take the time to let someone know how grateful I am that they're in my life. Reaching out to each other is always necessary no matter what time of the year it is. Take advantage of all the resources available to brighten someone's day. You'll end up brightening your day as well. Before you know it, you'll be "old fashioned" too. 
Dec 08

Tips For A Better Night’s Rest

By Celeste DeCamps | General

A Good Laugh Will Lead to Good Dreams.

I'm in the supermarket, walking up and down the aisles. I look up, and I see many angry faces, all directed at me. I don't understand what's happening until I realize I'm not wearing a mask. My heartbeat gets faster, and I feel so embarrassed. I also feel vulnerable. How did I leave my home without my mask? I try to be so careful. I can't believe how irresponsible I'm being. I then open my eyes and find that once again, I'm having a bad dream. It turns out I'm not the only one. Psychologists are reporting a significant uptick in covid related dreams. 

From WebMD: "Vivid dreams about bug attacks top the list of crazy COVID-19 nightmares, says Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D., a Harvard psychologist and dream researcher who launched an international survey about pandemic-related dreams. From "swarms of wasps, flies, and gnats to armies of roaches and wiggly worms," bug attacks are "by far the most common metaphor" seen in the more than 8,000 dreams reported on her survey since March. I think part of it traces to the slang use of the word; we say we have a bug to mean we have a virus," says Barrett. "Dreams can be kind of pun-like in using visual images for words."

Dreams play a major role in helping us deal with stress and anxiety. Our subconscious mind is working overtime in trying to help us with emotional overload. We're bombarded daily with news of this pandemic and how quickly it spreads. We're concerned about our family and friends, and we miss not being able to see each other. It's no wonder that our dreams reflect that worry. 

Sleep is a vital component to our overall health and well-being. Most of us are suffering from lack of sleep because we're feeling anxious. I find myself waking up quite a bit throughout the night. Sometimes I can get back to sleep, but other times it seems impossible. My mind races with worst-case scenarios, and the more I try to make it stop, the crazier it gets. I've written in the past, ways to get a better night's rest, but I think an update is in order in these uncertain times. 

Disconnect. I know we all want to look at our phones for messages or cat videos, but with it comes upsetting news. It's hard to ignore. Turn off the tv, computer, and your Dick Tracy watch. Put your phone on silent or switch notifications off. This will keep your phone from dinging and the impulse to check it. Instead, read a good book or flip through a magazine. Give your mind something pleasant to absorb in place of the apocalypse. 

Stretch. In general, exercise alleviates the feeling of dread and replaces it with a better outlook. Gentle stretches before getting into bed will also relax tense muscles. As you move, take slow, deep breaths. This will put you in the present and give you a much-needed break from future concerns. 

Meditate. I find meditating works the best for me when I'm trying to fall asleep. If my mind keeps wandering, I'll put on a guided meditation from an app on my phone. Yes, now it's okay to use your phone. Listening to relaxing sounds and quieting our minds will induce a more peaceful rest. Dreams may still happen, but hopefully, they'll be more pleasant. 

Call A Friend. I wouldn't suggest calling someone in the middle of the night, but it is a good idea during the day. We're all experiencing uncertainty and feeling fearful. Talking and expressing our worries to others helps us to feel less alone. Being able to chat and have a good laugh is the best remedy of all. If you're having trouble with depression, please consider talking to a professional therapist or psychologist. We can always learn new coping skills. 

Nightmares, especially when they feel so real, can stay with us in our waking hours. It can darken our mood and make it hard for us to have hope. We need each other and reaching out to family and friends is essential. Check-in with your loved ones and ask about their emotional well-being. Communication is vital for us to get through this. 

My latest dreams are better. Instead of finding myself in a room full of strangers without my mask, I have the more normal dream of being naked instead. I'm just glad I'm not dreaming about bugs. Cheers to happier times ahead.