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If you are struggling to focus on work with everything going on around us, you are certainly not alone. Even those of us who are used to working from home are experiencing a new normal with the current conditions.
Trying to keep up a regular routine through stressful times isn’t an easy task by any means. In reality,it can be nearly impossible. Between the news, social media, and casual conversations, the information you receive, can fill your mind with fear and anxiety.
If you’re struggling right now, I hope to offer you some tips which may help with the process. Let’s take a look at some effective ways to work through stress and uncertainty.
Establish a Routine
If you’re used to going out to an office or worksite every day, communicating with co-workers in person, and having coversations during coffee breaks and office parites, working solo from home can feel quite strange. Your only connection is virtual, either through a video conference, through email, or over the phone.
It might be difficult to establish your own routine when you are the only one in the “office”. Perhaps you are used to taking cues from others or working in with a team on projects. Now that you’re flying solo, creating a schedule is the first step to working in this new normal.
Set a time where you wake up and work. Prepare a breakfast (if you eat breakfast) the night before, or start your day with a beverage and reflection. Having a hot cup of tea or coffee while going over the tasks you want to accomplish for the day will go a long way toward moving yourself into the right mindset for getting things done.
Schedule in breaks during the day and establish a set time for stopping work. This last is important because it can be easy just to do “one more task”. Instead, close out your “work day” and ease yourself into “home life”, even if that means simply walking into the next room. Perhaps play a favorite song to signify the transition.
Be Grateful and Mindful
Practicing simple gratitude can make a difference in your mindset for the day. Write a list of the things you are grateful for. Even the small things can certainly boost your mood. Pin the list up somewhere easily visibly and try to refer to it when you feel your mood lagging.
While it may sound new-agey, focusing on the things you’re grateful for, you can train your brain to think in a more positive matter. In turn, that will switch your focus from the negative things going on right now, to the good things going on in your life.
Find and Use Available Support
One of the brighter spots in this situation is that you’re not the only one who’s being impacted. Most, if not all of the people around you are in the same boat. This means, there’s a lot of support available.
You might spend more time connecting with friends and family without the pressure of running here and there to distract you. Or you can connect with others over social media or other online support channels.
Financial support is available too. If you’re struggling with finances, don’t hesitate to reach out to your bank or utility companies. Many of them have programs in place to assist their customers.
Emotional support is important. Seek out support from a trained therapist via telephone or online. If you do not have insurance, payment plans will surely be available.
Put Self-Care First
We’ve all heard the proverb “You cannot pour from an empty vessel”. It’s so true. You can’t give support o if you don’t support yourself. Focus on self-care in these trying time. Learn to say no. Prioritize or delegate tasks. You can’t do everything.
Practicing self-care doesn’t always mean chocolate and streaming movies. In fact, becoming less active can be detrimental to both your physical and emotional well-being. What you should do, however, is balance the “veg-out” with the “work-out”.
Exercising on a regular basis is an effective way to deal with stress. Yoga, lifting weights, or even walking around your house will get your blood moving and your brain into high gear. I remember reading an article about a grandmother who lived in an apartment and wanted to lose weight. She didn’t feel comfortable going outside and walking, so instead she walked circuits around her apartment and got her steps in that way. These things can be done. You just have to use your imagination. There are online videos and programs you can access for free.
Focus on things which relax you, such as breathing exercises, meditation, or simply sitting and being in the moment. Make practicing self-care a habit, and your stress level will certainly reduce.
Granted, it’s difficult not to stress out when we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. The uncertainty about supplies, personal health, and finances can lead to sleepless nights and worrying. However, the tips I gave you can help you manage your emotions and keep them from getting out of control. The first thing to remember is to be kind to yourself and keep your expectations at a reasonable level as you transition into this new phase of your working life.
Are you a last minute shopper? Do you not like waiting for things to arrive on your doorstep? Who doesn’t like instant gratification every once in a while?
Most of us have writers in their lives, heck, I am one. I know it’s hard to shop for us, because most of the time we’re hidden away in our caves. However, I’m here to assist you in getting a quick and dirty gift for your writer-loves.
Please, be aware that your writer (or you) must have access to a Kindle or E-Book reader app to take advantage of these gifts. Once you get to the buy page, look underneath the “One Click” button and you will see “Buy for Others” . Clicking this button will allow you to purchase these digital books for others.
Disclaimer: Please note, this post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission when you purchase through these links.
I absolutely love this book. The entire book is a reference list as to how to describe emotions and how certain emotional issues your characters may have are expressed in their actions. Just reading the book can spark ideas that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
Click below to gift writer-love this gem of a reference book.
Next up is 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love….and who doesn’t want that? This is a little book I discovered when I was looking for a way write faster. If you have ideas on where you think your story may go, but when you sit down at the keyboard or with your journal, you feel stagnated, try this book. In addition, any writer will appreciate some tips and tricks on how to write faster, and at 2.99, it’s an inexpensive gift that keeps on giving.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Doesn’t really matter, does it, as long as you’re getting those words down on paper. The key to writing and keeping on writing is to understand and internalize the essence of story structure and world-building. This book: Plot Gardening: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox can give you the tools to kick your writing up a level. Click below to purchase:
Any romance writers in your life? Do you want to become a romance writer? Not only should you be reading in your genre, but picking up Gwen Hayes’ Romancing the Beat, will definitely help you get those romance beats just right. She even dissects one of her own stories as an example, and the eighties song references add some fun to the book.
Click below to purchase/gift:
At 99 cents (at the time of this blog post, please check prices before you click), Libbie Hawker’s “Take Off Your Pants” is both a fun and informative read. Learn how to create a character arc, plot, theme, antagonists and allies for your book, no matter the genre.
There you go! Don’t worry if you’ve waited until the last minute. These digital gifts are high in content and information. I’m sure your writer-love (or you) will use these book way beyond the holidays.
Until next time,
‘Tis the season, isn’t it? When the last day of the year rolls around, many of us around the globe think about gift-giving, gift-receiving, and the joy of the holidays. It can be such a warm and fuzzy time of year, and I hope you enjoy every moment of it you can.
I’m the kind of person who likes to give gifts because I enjoy seeing the surprise (and hopefully delight) on the other person’s face when they open the gift I selected especially for them. But that’s just me. It might also be that I enjoy shopping…..but we won’t talk about that right now!
Writers can be difficult to buy for. Besides the requisite pens and journals, maybe you want to be a little more creative for your writer-in-residence. Well, as a writer myself, I picked out a few choice gifts which will make your writer friend smile…..a change from our usual dour expression. (It’s not personal folks, it’s just the writing life.)
Please note, this post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission when you purchase through these links.
First, we writers need something to wear. Yes, we might be satisfied to lounge around in an old hoodie and our favorite jeans, but this shirt will not only give us something new to wear, but a brand new outlook on life. Yes, we write and we also know things. Too many things:
The next gift on the list is a classic. A writer looks for inspiration in daily things, whether it be nature, television, or even the progress of the microwave as it reheats a cup of coffee for the millionth time. Stephen King is a prolific writer, world-famous, etc, but it’s nice to read about his thoughts on writing years ago. If your writer doesn’t already have this book , then they should.
Writer’s Block. If you’ve been within fifty feet of a writer, you’ll know the term writer’s block. Fact is, it’s been a virus around the writing community for years, and no one has been able to cure it. However, this awesome little card set just might do the trick. At least, your writer can add it to their arsenal of weapons.
This is one of my favorite gifts, and if no one buys it for me, I’m going to pick it up for myself. While I am a coffee drinker by rule, I have nothing against a steaming hot cup of tea. It make me feel super classy and if you get these teas with literary quotes, you’ll feel like a high-class author too!
Like some sort of prehistoric beast, we hunch over our keyboard or journals, typing/scribbling words as fast as our feverish minds can churn the stuff out. No interruptions, please! Or our creative flow may come to a screeching halt. Try this on for size:
I have a lot of pencils. Pens. Markers. Highlighters. And I’m sure a lot of writers out there have the same overflow of writing implements. It’s just that we’re all in search of the magic pen which will make the words flow. Shhhh! Don’t tell us it’s a myth. While we search, in the meantime, we can store our pens in this:
This one is a wee bit over the twenty dollar limit, but it was so cool, I had to include it. I’m a bit of a sucker for inspirational art….I don’t like it too cheesy, but this is a print that is great to stare at while my brain raced to fill in the next paragraph, or sentence, or word.
Happy shopping and if you’re a writer reading this, don’t be afraid to treat yourself!
October is the month of being scary, right? But I’m a romance author, so I found a way to combine the two. Loving Among the Dead is the answer that I found. A mix of erotic romance and scary zombie adventure, it’s sure to get your blood racing in one way or the other. Here’s a blurb.
Nothing in her graduate history courses prepared Judith Graham for the monotony of her existence in the weeks following a zombie apocalypse. Hiding from the rotted world in her makeshift fortress, she subsists on dehydrated food and lonely thought.
When she gives up and decides to satisfy her need for a break in routine, she crosses paths with Sky Beckett, a high school physics teacher making his way to his Southern childhood home. Several passionate encounters coupled with Sky’s assertion that things are only going to get worse not better, spark Judith’s doubts about the isolated life she’s chosen.
But can an ever-cautious Judith find the strength to leave the false security of her past behind to create a new future with Sky in an uncertain world?
Click the book cover below to purchase:
Please note, this is an erotic romance with a heat level of 4.
Here’s an excerpt:
Judith Graham buried her parents on a Sunday. After a brief prayer, she placed her mother’s favorite plant at the head of her grave, and her father’s pipe—still full of tobacco ashes—at the head of his.
She brushed the dirt from her jeans, tucked the work gloves in her back pocket, and sat on the back deck sipping from a can of warm soda, watching the sun set. There were no tears. Her mother’s pistol was at her side, the gunmetal gleaming in the fading orange light.
Would it have made a difference if she had gotten home sooner?
The letter, written on her mother’s heavy monogrammed stationery, had been propped on the mantel, addressed to “Judith” in even, no-nonsense script. A marked contrast to the pale lavender paper, the black words indicated her father brought home the infection. She shot him in the back of his head when he started making gurgling, groaning sounds at the static on the television. Then she dug their graves, dragged him into his, and shot herself.
Stay hidden. Don’t trust anyone. Her mother’s final words to her. Jude was alone.
Her brother was south, somewhere, Alabama, the last she’d heard. Marcus did what he wanted, when he wanted. She was the good daughter who minded what her parents told her.
It wasn’t so bad at first. Between the initial shock of her parents’ deaths, and making defensive alterations to the house, there was no time or energy to think or feel much of anything.
Once the house was safe, the dehydrated food, water bottles, and toiletries arranged in the first floor den, the camp shower with its battery pump working and the lanterns loaded, there was lots of time to be lonely. Rereading favorite novels, patrolling the inside of the house, and searching for elusive ham broadcasts on the shortwave radio only filled up so much time.
She stopped looking at family photos because they made her cry, leaving her exhausted and listless, lying on the bed or the sofa or the floor for hours until the urge to pee roused her enough to move.
Her neighborhood was deserted. No walking dead bodies roamed the streets. Either her neighbors had gotten out or had been zombified in the confines of their homes, unable to juice up the physical memory necessary to open a door and escape. For that she was grateful. She’d had to smash too many zombie heads on her way back home from Philadelphia for her to revisit it with people she once knew.
Title: Butterfly Kisses
Synopsis: (from imdb) A filmmaker discovers a box of video tapes depicting two students’ disturbing film project featuring a local horror legend, The Peeping Tom. As he sets out to prove this story is real and release it as a work of his own, he loses himself and the film crew following him into his project.
Streaming on Amazon Video.
With the introduction of so many streaming services and places to watch movies and other media online, it is difficult to find quality entertainment to watch. This is especially true in the world of the horror move lover: anyone with a good enough camera (including the iPhone 5 camera) and some willing friends/associates can create a film and upload it for viewing. This explains the huge number of simply terrible horror movies one runs into on any given service. Even the so-called “big finance” movies can be failures, no matter how good they look or how pervasive their marketing is. (I’m looking at you The Open House).
On the other hand, if you watch enough movies, as I do, you can sometime find some gems hidden in the coal-dusted rubble. I’m not saying these are diamond, but they’re a lot better than the usual fare found in the horror genre.
For this blog post, I’m going to be writing about Butterfly Kisses, an Amazon Prime offering. Amazon Prime has a LOT of horror movies, and it takes a patient soul (like me) to wade through the chaff to get to the pure grain of the good movies.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I have preference for found-footage horror. Some like potted meat, I like found footage horror. While I love the genre, found footage can be a serious hit or miss. Basically, some of the worse I’ve seen are like some of the ghost hunting shows on cable, complete with boring parts.
However, every once in a while, I get lucky and find a mediocre to good found footage horror film that doesn’t have a lot of heavy breathing and people asking “what’s that”?
Butterfly Kisses is a found footage horror film resting on an interesting premise: a film within a film. A filmmaker discovers a box of tapes in his home. These tapes depict the project of two film students who were investigating a local urban legend call the Peeping Tom. The bulk of the film is this filmmaker trying to prove that this legend is true while he sifts through the footage the students left behind. There’s two stories running: the filmmaker in the “present time” and the students “in the past”.
All in all, it was a pretty interesting movie. I liked the multiple layers of the film and the subplots which weaved in and out of the narrative. There was very little shaky-cam and a few good jump scares. I actually watched the movie twice to catch all the little details that came into play later.
Certainly, it’s a theme/plot device that’s been addressed before in numerous movies and shows, but the execution in this movie is pretty good. The acting is decent and there are some parts which are actually kind of touching/sad.
Not to wax overly philosophical, but the film also brings up themes of what is real/what is not, and how far one is willing to go for a vision and/or belief.
Give Butterfly Kisses a try. While it’s not a great film, I’ve seen a lot worse.