April 9th, 2020 / posted by paularath

It’s far too easy to swim into a sea of angst in these days of self quarantine. It can sneak up on you at the most unexpected times, sometimes even when you’re just sitting in your comfy chair, reading.

If and when this starts to happen, there’s a technique that Jerry has learned to employ, and he recently taught it to me. It involves simply getting in touch with your senses.

You don’t have to leave your house. It can be done from any room, or even without getting up from that beloved chair.

I will share some of our sensory healing “tools,” but I’m sure you can find some of your own around your home.

SMELL is an often under-appreciated sense, but it’s always been an important one to me. Today it has a special significance, because loss of smell can be one of the signs of Covid-19. So you can check your sense of smell while enjoying a little relaxation.

My favorite aromatherapy candle is Baies by Diptyque. It’s pricey, but it lasts a long, long time and the scent takes me back to our family beach house on the North Shore. Do you have a favorite smell reminiscent of small kid time?

A fragrant flower can also do wonders to wipe away anxiety. It was so exciting when I woke up on the morning of April 1 to find the first bloom on my gardenia plant. I left it on the plant, and whenever I need to chill a little, I go out on the deck and enjoy its hypnotic fragrance.

Gecko “Cookie3” dining on the counter

SIGHT in our own home is something we can so easily take for granted. After all, we see the same things every day. But perhaps it’s a good time to take a deeper look at some of the things we live with.

At the moment we don’t have a pet, but we do have something living in our house that can be quite amusing: geckos. I have taken to naming the gecko that lives in our kitchen. There’s just one, and I believe we are on the third generation of the family of Cookie3. She is a good listener. She stops in her tracks and listens to me whenever I talk to her. It’s always nice to have a fresh audience, isn’t it?

Photo courtesy Honolulu Zoo

Do you have a kolea that returns to your neighborhood every August and flies away around April 23? Look especially hard for it in the next couple weeks, as it will be the last time you see it for several months. An aloha can relieve anxiety.

Perhaps you have an item in your home you haven’t really paid attention to lately. Look a little closer and see what you can see within it.

HEARING is a real challenge for Jerry, as he is 100 percent deaf in one ear and about 30 percent deaf in the other. He employs a technique of listening carefully to identify different sounds around him.

We are so lucky to live in the rain forest, where birds abound. We wake up every morning to a cacophony of birds singing and chattering away to one another. With the traffic noise on the Pali way down due to people staying home, the birds play an even bigger role in the music of our days.

Also, a Tibetan Singing Bowl can be an amazing way to soothe the soul. Its sound literally vibrates within.

Music, of course, is an ideal coping mechanism for those suffering from anxiety. For Jerry, it’s all about ABBA. For me, it’s Carole King and James Taylor. For both of us, it’s a wide range of classical music and jazz. Mahalo KHPR!

TOUCH is much missed these days by everyone in Hawaii. We are so used to hugging people whenever we see them, or at least touching their arm or taking their hand.

A pet is an ideal means to keep a soft and gentle touch in our lives. For me, my late cat, Eleele, filled that role. Cookie3, not so much. She actually does let me touch her when I’m talking to her, but it doesn’t last long, and she’s not exactly cuddly.

Sometimes just standing or sitting on the deck, letting the tradewinds caress, can offer so much solace.

TASTE is usually an easy fix for angsty days. Chocolate, anyone?

For me, baking is a means to happiness in so many different ways. It satisfies touch, taste, smell and sight.

Who doesn’t love baking a batch of cookies? And when baking bread, I can even get some frustrations out when kneading the dough.

But without our usual physical activities, such as swimming, pickleball and regular gym workouts, we are trying not to eat too much, and a batch of cookies, or even a whole loaf of bread, can be a problem.

So I attack my angst by trying to make new and different salads with quinoa, beets, couscous and Middle Eastern spices my niece Tiare gave me, but I never took the time to try. Time is no longer a rare commodity, is it?

So…..How are you attacking your angst?

Paula Rath

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