Here’s hoping all of you planted something last May as by now those gardens and plantings should be giving you a fair amount of fresh fruits and vegetables; with plenty to put away some for the winter. It’s a different world now and hopefully you’ve found a way to fill your time while still staying in touch with family and friends.
Dealing with stress is a big part of daily life. Computers and smartphones make huge amounts of information available to you…but do you need all that news? The more local the news the more important it will be to you. It’s pretty hard to do much about national news. If national news makes you anxious, don’t seek it out. Stick with what’s local.
Time spent learning to knit, garden, cook, or change your oil will help you become more self-sufficient and gain skills that make you feel more in control. It’s okay to turn off your phone for a period of time if the interruptions are causing you stress. Use your phone to get in touch with, or keep in touch with, family and friends.
Seek out change; find easier ways to deal with things. Laundry can be easier and cheaper than fancy packages might make you believe. Ninety percent of energy use with laundry comes from heating the water. But you don’t need to do this. Cold-water friction is as effective as hot water friction. Natural cleaning ingredients are as effective as hot water friction. Natural cleaning ingredients are as effective as the fancy-packaged ones that come in bright bottles. Natural cleaning products include baking soda, borax, Castile, white vinegar, even lemons and coarse salt. These are all much cheaper and have far less packaging, thereby saving you money.
Reduce your energy use as much as possible. Not only will this save you money but also you’ll have a sense of power (no pun intended) over your own life. The easiest thing you can do to decrease your energy use is to dry laundry outside and stop using your clothes dryer! Dryers use tremendous amounts of energy, as does anything that makes heat. Most of the world line-dries their laundry, making for those colorful, picturesque photos of most other nations. It is only in the United States that 92% of the population uses heat-producing clothes dryers even when it’s sunny!
In China, it’s hard to even find a clothes dryer for sale and only 3% use dryers. Brazil uses fewer than 1% of clothes dryers. You can bring the smell of fresh air and sunshine into your home by drying laundry outside. And you won’t need expensive “fresheners”—really just chemicals and no replacement for air and sunshine, which are free.
Dishwashers are another energy hog…and they tend to break down. Ninety percent of the people who own them rinse their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. “What does the dishwasher do?” Dishwasher detergents have enzymes in them to break down food particles. People matter more than machines. Stop pre-rinsing the dishes that go into the dishwasher. Scraping food into the compost bucket is okay.
When it comes to soap, using more of the cheapest kind won’t make it work any better. Soap and water works as it’s the friction that really does the trick. Teach your kids to scrub their hands. And use a nailbrush.
One of the biggest users of energy is driving. Though we’ve all been doing less of it, we can get it down even more. If you aren’t currently working, do you really need to leave the house every day? Do you really need an SUV if there are only 1 or 2 of you in the household? Do you really need to eat out 2 to 3 times a week? Fewer trips to the grocery store will mean less exposure, less stress, and less money spent.
Back to gardening: a most rewarding dollar and stress reducer. One hour spend gardening decreases depression. Fifteen minutes of intense exercise will accomplish the same stress reduction. Get your exercise outdoors if possible. Magnesium is important for the absorption of Vitamin D from the sun. Men need 420mg per day and women need 320mg per day. The best food sources of magnesium are almonds and spinach (80mg), brans and lentils (60mg), and pumpkins seeds (over 70mg). Eat these foods daily if you want to have more energy and stay healthy.
The simple life is not so simple anymore. Google “simple life” and in half a minute you will have over a million and a half responses. Go slow in making changes but start. Perhaps you can change one or two habits a week. Don’t forget the children and the elderly. They are 50% less likely to experience depression and loneliness if spending daily time outside.
Give of yourself and your time. It makes both you and the recipient feel better. Be honest and kind in all of your dealings with each other. Create connections by writing the story of your life to send to grandkids, people in nursing homes, prisons, or quarantine. We all matter.