Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

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Mon, May 4 7:00am

Day 3: Creating your Resiliency Roadmap

By Dr. Dona Locke, HABIT AZ Director, @DrDonaLocke

Road to Resilience

Welcome to day 3 of our resiliency roadmap journey. If you are just joining us, take a look here to see our introduction to this project and then day 1 and day 2. So far, we've identified our personal symptoms and signs of stress in our bodies (e.g., muscle tension), our emotions (e.g., worry), our thinking (e.g., being more distracted), and our behaviors (e.g., withdrawing from things we enjoy); and we have identified aspects of certain situations that are likely to cause stress for us (e.g., having to be separated from family, lack of control).  Today, we begin building our stress management behavior tool box.

Identify what already works!

I want you to spend a moment reflecting on positive coping strategies that you know already work for you. Many of you have already posted some ideas in the comments of this series so far--Nice job! Sometimes in times of stress, we forget to fall back on these active, positive coping strategies, so now is the time to really identify what works for you already and write down that reminder list for yourself. Then when you notice signs of stress in yourself or you know a situation is coming that has stressful components for you, you can intentionally pull these active coping strategies forward.

Below are some possibilities, but just like our  signs of stress, each of us can have our own list of active coping behaviors that work for us. For example, if I'm really worried and find that my mind is really distracted and ruminating on a problem, I may try to distract myself temporarily (to get my brain out of this rumination cycle) by watching a funny movie. In addition, I added to this list below going for a bike ride with my kids. This one really helps me activate my body to fight against some physical stress signs, and I'm able to practice mindfulness. My kids and I focus on what flowers are blooming, how many lemons/oranges/grapefruit are on our neighborhood trees when we pass by, and other "in the present" observations (that again get me out of my head where I'm worrying about the future that I usually can't control).

You also can review our recent post about ways to cultivate mindfulness in this time of stay at home orders. I also have a favorite song that helps me remember to "live in the moment". I sometimes take a short break and actually pull the song up and listen, but other times I can just mentally play it back, and it is enough to give me a mental re-frame. Finally, I also fall back on having lunch or dinner with a good friend. I'm lucky that a good friend and I work in the same place, so it is easy to meet for lunch. And, she is ALWAYS a comfort and makes me laugh, bringing focus to positive emotion. So, what do you already have in your toolbox that works for you? That's how you are already resilient, so lets be sure to reinforce these activities!

Road to Resilience

A few more tips you may not be doing already

To round out today, I want to offer a couple more tips to add to your road map if they are not among the stress coping techniques you are already using.

  • First, whatever your situation, remember to take breaks. Sometimes, in a time of stress, we can get so focused on "solving" the problem that we can be consumed. If that's happening, I encourage you to take a break and use one of your coping strategies.
  • Second, I've been encouraging all our staff (and now you too!) to limit your media consumption. Certainly I want you to be informed and aware of current events, but in this time of 24/7 news channels, we can get really sucked into feeling like we have to be up on the news all day every day. Remember back when the news was just from 6:00-6:30pm and 10:00-10:30pm everyday?  Or a newspaper on your driveway in the morning?  Somehow we all managed to be informed enough (in my opinion) in those days. Can you limit your media intake to something more like that?
  • Third, remind yourself what gives you meaning and purpose. Is it being the best partner, mother, grandmother, father, grandfather you can be (remembering that none of us are perfect!)?  How do you do that in this time of social distancing and staying-at-home?  Is it your volunteer work?  If so, has that changed because of COVID-19 such that you may need to temporarily find a way to give back in another way (e.g., making masks, phone calls instead of in person visits)? Given all the changes in our lives right now, being able to focus on what gives us a sense of purpose and meaning may have been altered, and perhaps we haven't realized how that's impacted us. Now's a time to reflect on this issue to see if it is relevant to you and see if there is an opportunity to adapt.
  • Fourth, get some time outdoors. You can do this at appropriate social distancing (I've found when we are out in our neighborhood everyone really does a great job of staying distant if we happen to cross paths). Fresh air, vitamin D, warm sunshine activating our brains, need I say more?

I look forward to seeing what resiliency tools you already have in your toolbox, AND I hope you'll share. When I've done this work with our staff, they often come up with lots of unique suggestions that are not on this starting list.  And, when they share with each other, I hear, "Oh, that's a great idea! I didn't think of that!"

Join me again on Wednesday where I want to highlight some formal relaxation techniques we often recommend and give you some tools to try them. I hope then you'll add some of these to your coping technique list that you've started today.  See you soon!

 

Hi @DrDonaLocke and all,

I've read Day 1 and Day 2 and find the idea of my toolbox for dealing with stress to be a great idea. In my toolbox are many of the things you have mentioned. I've found the secret to success in this idea is to use a variety of these tools every day. So here are my tools that I try to use each day:

Reading, I could spend all day reading, but I limit myself to an hour or so.
Writing. I don't keep a formal journal but I'll write a few sentences (affirmations) about my day, my feelings and give myself some positive encouragement. Even if it's just, "You can do this."
Walking outside each day is great.
Exercising with a video on Youtube offers some variety and gives me a leader to follow.
TV or movies, especially comedies.

I've found the more tools I can pull out of my toolbox each day, the better my day goes.

COMMENT

Hi @DrDonaLocke ! For me, bike rides are key. I think it isn't just the exercise but also being outside in nature. There is one point on my ride where I hit a trail through the preserve, and there is almost a "click" or "ahhhh" that goes off in my brain as I round that curve. I also find playing solitaire on my tablet after the kids are in bed helpful. Spider solitaire is just challenging enough to engage my brain to stop thinking about other stuff, but not too entertaining like other computer games or tv shows. Thanks for posting this!

COMMENT

One of the things that can really be helpful to me is an early morning walk. Unfortunately, the spring pollen season coincided with this period of dealing with the virus. So I've had a double whammy since walking was not only exercise but also a stress reliever. I've just now been able to start going out and enjoying the beautiful FL mornings and I LOVE it.

COMMENT
@hopeful33250

Hi @DrDonaLocke and all,

I've read Day 1 and Day 2 and find the idea of my toolbox for dealing with stress to be a great idea. In my toolbox are many of the things you have mentioned. I've found the secret to success in this idea is to use a variety of these tools every day. So here are my tools that I try to use each day:

Reading, I could spend all day reading, but I limit myself to an hour or so.
Writing. I don't keep a formal journal but I'll write a few sentences (affirmations) about my day, my feelings and give myself some positive encouragement. Even if it's just, "You can do this."
Walking outside each day is great.
Exercising with a video on Youtube offers some variety and gives me a leader to follow.
TV or movies, especially comedies.

I've found the more tools I can pull out of my toolbox each day, the better my day goes.

Jump to this post

@hopeful33250 Thank you for posting! I agree that going to the toolbox each day is a great routine!

COMMENT
@drmelaniechandler

Hi @DrDonaLocke ! For me, bike rides are key. I think it isn't just the exercise but also being outside in nature. There is one point on my ride where I hit a trail through the preserve, and there is almost a "click" or "ahhhh" that goes off in my brain as I round that curve. I also find playing solitaire on my tablet after the kids are in bed helpful. Spider solitaire is just challenging enough to engage my brain to stop thinking about other stuff, but not too entertaining like other computer games or tv shows. Thanks for posting this!

Jump to this post

@drmelaniechandler Thank you for sharing!

COMMENT
@debbraw

One of the things that can really be helpful to me is an early morning walk. Unfortunately, the spring pollen season coincided with this period of dealing with the virus. So I've had a double whammy since walking was not only exercise but also a stress reliever. I've just now been able to start going out and enjoying the beautiful FL mornings and I LOVE it.

Jump to this post

@debbraw I'm so glad you are able to get back out there.

COMMENT
@debbraw

One of the things that can really be helpful to me is an early morning walk. Unfortunately, the spring pollen season coincided with this period of dealing with the virus. So I've had a double whammy since walking was not only exercise but also a stress reliever. I've just now been able to start going out and enjoying the beautiful FL mornings and I LOVE it.

Jump to this post

Oh and I bet you have lovely walks down where you guys live, Debbra! Let's enjoy the cool mornings while we can. What do you do when it gets hot?

COMMENT
@drmelaniechandler

Oh and I bet you have lovely walks down where you guys live, Debbra! Let's enjoy the cool mornings while we can. What do you do when it gets hot?

Jump to this post

@drmelaniechandler – The hotter it gets, the earlier I walk. LOL. Sometimes its worth it to trade a little extra sleep for a nice morning walk. I live right near the bayfront in historic St. Augustine so my usual walk is from my house, up the seawall, past the Bridge of Lions and then on down to the Fort. If I mess up and sleep late, I will sometimes treat myself by driving to the beach and having a beach walk. There is usually a sea breeze even on hot days. A 15 minute drive will get me to Vilano Beach or St. Augustine Beach and both are beautiful.

Liked by lioness

COMMENT
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