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What We Can Do To Become Happier In the New Year

As is a common tradition in the United States, as well as many other places around the world, countless individuals look to the new year as a means to flush out the negative energies or bad practices they may have had in their lives the previous year. Others may seek to continue strongly their positive pursuit of happiness. This begs us to ask a least a few questions of ourselves: How do we as individuals define our own happiness? What is true happiness? And is it even possible to achieve? Let’s discuss.

American and pop culture teach us to put material wealth at the forefront of our desires and ambitions. Day after day after day, we see commercials on television showing the new, flashy car or the luxury watch that we need to have. We’re told that by obtaining these material goods, that our social status in society will be greatly improved. It’s important to distinguish between pleasure and true, sustainable prosperity. Getting that next text message from a love interest makes us feel good. Buying that new sports car makes us feel good. When we receive this positive reinforcement, our brains release the chemical dopamine, which takes us to a place of sheer joy. However, like any effect of a drug, it wears off and we long for more and more and more. Is that sustainable? Oftentimes, it isn’t.

So, how can we channel our energies and desires in a direction to actually improve our overall happiness? The answer may be self-improvement. For example, taking an interest in and learning a new instrument not only can give you a feeling of worthiness and happiness, it can give you a feeling of fulfillment. Playing an instrument is something that will stay with you. Unlike that fancy, new sports car that rusts and depreciates over time, it’s something that’s sustainable.

Perhaps one of your resolutions is to quit smoking. According to a 2000 study, it was found that cigarette manufacturers increased their advertising in January and February. Sabotage is actually one of the biggest threats to having your resolutions fail. Besides advertisers, another threat to resolutions, however unintentional it may seem, is family members. For example, if one of your resolutions is to lose weight in the new year, having a batch of freshly baked cookies resting on the kitchen counter is, at the very least, unhelpful.

There are steps we can take to assist ourselves in ensuring our resolutions do not fall by the wayside. Those steps are: reduce, implement, and celebrate. We need to make sure that our resolutions are small and manageable. Implement a plan of action that we can confidently stick to. Again, it’s important to be mindful of remaining focused on a small goal. Finally, we should reward ourselves when we accomplish something, even if it’s by doing something small for ourselves.

Every year, we as Americans partake in this tradition of self-improvement. In order to ensure we remain on track, let’s make sure we remain grateful. What do I mean? Well, take at least 15 minutes and jot down what you are grateful for. Update the list weekly by adding an additional two items. If you feel you’re a sharper thinker when you’re outside, go for a walk and contemplate this important list that way.

This pandemic has certainly upended many of our lives. Let’s take a step back and refocus our attentions on what we can control versus what is out of our hands.


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Here’s What You Can Do If You’re Living With Someone Who Has COVID-19

It’s happened. Coronavirus has entered your home. You can’t seem to fathom how this could be possible. You’ve been washing your hands religiously, maintaining social-distancing guidelines, and have wiped down your surfaces over and over again. Still, it happened. Now is not the time to despair. It’s time to take care of your loved one and protect yourself at the same time. You may observe certain symptoms like a dry cough, extreme fatigue, and loss of a sense of smell or taste among others. Just as when anyone becomes ill, even if it’s not necessarily with COVID19, it’s a good idea to keep your distance until they get tested. Here’s what you should do:

Call the doctor or your county’s health department to report their symptoms and to ask if they can get tested. If they are approved for testing, help them get a testing location. There should be multiple locations around your area. Some CVS Pharmacies do offer drive-thru testing. If you choose this method, it may take a few days to get the results back. Costs of testing may vary depending on his or her medical insurance.

If they can’t get tested right away, it’s best to take the necessary precautions and to act as if they do have the virus. In other words, keep your distance as best you can.

If you are living with someone who is ill, give them a specific space or area that the can quarantine themselves in. This will serve to protect both yourself from contracting the illness and them from passing it to you.

If the person is sick, make sure they are always coughing into their mask or cloth, or elbow or a tissue to prevent the spread of any germs or particles into the air.

Washing your hands with hot water and soap is always best, but use alcohol rub if you don’t have access to soap and water.

Wipe down surfaces with soap and disinfectants.

Don’t touch your face or rub your eyes if you haven’t washed your hands.

It’s very important to keep a constant lookout for the sick individual because this virus can take a turn for the worse rather quickly. Offer them both physical and emotional support whenever you can, without getting too close.

There are certain warning signs of danger when it comes to COVID-19 that you should be aware of: trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure that doesn’t go away, confusion or can’t be woken up, or a blue color in their lips or face.

Designate a bedroom for them to stay in. They shouldn’t leave that bedroom except to go to the bathroom. Keep everyone away from them. Also, if you can, open a window to get the air circulating inside.

Designate a sick bathroom for them. If you only have one bathroom, you’re going to need to clean the surfaces inside the bathroom every time they use it.

Follow safety guidelines related to medication to reduce fevers like ibuprofen. Do not exceed the recommended dosage. Keep track of when and how often the sick person is taking the medication.

Make sure plenty of blankets, pillows, books, magazines, TV, or a computer are available for their leisure while they are recovering. Make them as comfortable as possible. Keep a phone charger near their bed, so they can call or text you if they need something.

Bring food to them on a tray and maintain your distance as you give it to them.

Keep their laundry separate from yours. This may sound excessive, but it’s important to remember that germs can pass through clothing as well. You want to take any and all precautions to make sure you don’t get sick, too.

Go through your entire house and clean all surfaces and areas thoroughly.

We understand that these have been trying times for many. All of the recommendations included here are steps you should already be taking to prevent the spread of germs and ailments even if it’s not COVID-19.

For more information about how to care for someone with COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s website.


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How to Choose a Christmas Tree

It’s that time of year again! The most wonderful time of the year! Everything from what you’re going to prepare as a meal for your family, to what gifts you’re going to exchange, all of the details make up a very busy time! There’s another item on that important list of “To-Do’s”: what kind of Christmas tree are you going to buy this year?

Choosing a Christmas tree can be an overwhelming endeavor because all of the trees may look so similar. Some have better needle retention than others, which may be an important factor when considering which tree you want to buy if you have small children. Apart from worrying about your children picking up needles from the floor, the cleanup process may prove to be longer than you’re willing to tolerate.

Some trees give off a strong fragrance, so if you’re sensitive to certain smells or have certain allergies, be cautious before making your purchase.

A very important factor to consider is the strength of the tree’s branches. If you’re more of a minimalist, you have a lot more options available to you. If you’re the type of person that has accumulated countless ornaments over the years and you like to place every single decoration you can think of on your tree, you may consider a tree with sturdy branches to withstand all of the weight of your ornaments. A tree with soft foliage is probability a more suitable option for family’s with children or pets to prevent injuries from occurring.

You can buy your tree from a local nursery or a farm where you can select and cut your own. Some nurseries already have trees cut, so you may be able to skip that step. Still, it’s important to examine the trees before making your choice. If you see a tree with a lot of needles underneath it, it means the tree is not in good condition and you shouldn’t buy it. Another way to see if you’re buying a healthy tree is by gently guiding your hand from a branch on the tree to its tip. It’s important that the tree not drop any needles when you make this motion because it means it’s strong and durable and will last.

After you take your tree home, make sure you’re always providing it with plenty of water. Negligence in this department may prove dangerous because, as a tree dries out, it can become more prone to catching fire. Always be mindful and keep an eye on your water dish beneath your tree and make sure it’s full.

The most common species of trees in Maryland are the following: Douglas Fir, White Pine, Colorado “Blue” Spruce, Scotch Pine, Norway Spruce, Fraser Fir, Canaan Fir and Concolor Fir. Different species have different establishment costs, management requirements, and marketability.


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Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed a national holiday during one of the most trying times in our nation’s history: 1863, during the time of the Civil War. How did Thanksgiving come to be one of the most important celebrations in the United States? Let’s take a little trip back in history, shall we?:

It’s September 1620. A ship called the Mayflower leaves Plymouth, England. Religious liberty and a freedom to be landowners is at the forefront of the minds of its 102 passengers. This would not be an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, these brave souls would endure some of the most treacherous conditions known to man. After a dangerous journey that spanned 66 days, they planted themselves near the edge of Cape Cod; their original plan was to arrive at the Hudson River. A month later, the passengers of the Mayflower would settle their own village at Plymouth.

The colonists aboard the Mayflower battled everything from freezing temperatures to outbreaks of horrible disease. Half of the group would succumb to disease before spring. In March of that year, the remaining crew reached land where they would be greeted by someone they certainly did not expect: an Abenaki Native American who would greet them in their native English.

After meeting the colonists, the Native American would leave them and return days later with another Native American. Some of you may have heard of him before. His name was Squanto. This meeting with Squanto would prove to be one of the most fruitful meetings in human history, for it gave the colonists the opportunity to learn how to grow their own crops, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish, and how to identify poisonous plants.

Why is Thanksgiving celebrated in November? Well, in November of 1621, after the colonists successfully harvested their first corn, Governor William Bradford organized a feast in which he invited Native Americans from various tribes to eat with the colonists. Additionally, at the height of the Civil War in 1863, Abraham Lincoln wanted to bring the country together. In his proclamation, he wanted all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife and to “heal the wounds of the nation”. He scheduled a Thanksgiving for the last Thursday in November.

While there are some Native Americans who strongly disagree with how the history and significance and Thanksgiving is taught to Americans due to the, oftentimes, violent history between Native Americans and European settlers, it is important to remember that through no time in human history has there ever been conflict between human beings. In fact, people engaging in violent conflict is well-documented. From the times of the Caesars to when the Scottish people fought for their freedom against the English crown, it was clear that, although leaders did their best to avoid armed conflict, bloodshed was unavoidable. The conflict between the Native Americans and European settlers was not an unusual occurrence. Human beings have fought amongst each other for centuries. What is important to remember is how peoples from completely different backgrounds were able to put their differences aside and come together to celebrate what they had in common: a mutual need for trade, land, negotiations, and yes, the absence of armed conflict. The survival and prosperity of their individual tribes was more important.

We are living in uncertain times. The outbreak of the Coronavirus has tested us as Americans, challenging the very ideals we so strongly hold in our hearts. This Thanksgiving, may we all take a moment to remember what brings us together, what we have in common and what values we all share as members of this great country. We have an opportunity to remind ourselves of what it truly means to be an American. It’s not something that we should ever take for granted.





sources: https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving


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