Archive for March 2020

5 bright spots about self-quarantine

March 31, 2020

In these challenging times, we are all coping with uncertainty and new routines. I hope that you and your family are well­.

I work for a mental health counseling center. Mental health is an essential service, and some of our clients need that face-to-face contact with counselors. Right now, the best way that I can help, as office staff, is by not being there.

With a little preparation, most of my work can be done remotely, and this is the seventh day of my self-quarantine. I have a desk, a computer, a printer, and a private spot to work.

For me, the key to being productive is sticking to my daily routine. That means following my morning routine, looking at my daily tasks, and prioritizing what is important. Then, at the end of the day, I make a list of the important things for the next day.

The transition to working remotely has been easier than I expected. Here are 5 of my bright spots about self-quarantine:

* 5 hours of extra sleep. Before, I woke up when it was still dark to get ready to go to work. Now, I can sleep and wake up when it is light outside, making it easier to convince myself that it is morning.

* 7.5 hours not in traffic. Before, my commute was about 45 minutes one way, depending on traffic. Now, that is extra time I can spend watching a webinar, reading a book, checking on my son’s homework for the day, or just starting work early.

* Taking a lunch break. Before, I ate at my desk, working through lunch, or sometimes just snacking. Now, I take a break and eat with my family. We each have out own “space” but it’s good to see each other throughout the day.

* Faster technology adoption. Usually, adopting new technology takes time. For example, when our nonprofit switched to electronic medical records, it took over two years before the system was accepted. Now, we were able to set up and get trained on a video conferencing system in one week. And no one complained about learning new technology.

* Realizing that we’ll get through this together. Before, I sometimes felt overwhelmed by my responsibilities and the things that needed to get done. Now, I realize that we are all acting in the best way that we can to this crisis. We are facing these challenges together.

Mental health is more important than ever. It’s normal to feel stressed, anxious, and lonely. If you need to talk to someone, please reach out. Whether you are in self-quarantine or still going into work, thank you for helping to keep us healthy.

Are you in self-quarantine or are you working at an essential service? What bright spots have you discovered?

The mind of a sixth grader

March 24, 2020


When my son was in sixth grade, I gave him a stack of writing prompts to help him practice his essay writing and keep him busy. Here’s a glimpse into the mind of a sixth grader:

Unexpected victory

When I was in 5th and 4th grade, my class played a game called Kahoot. I had multiple great times with playing Kahoot. I also had so much fun answering questions and solving them even if I lost or won the game. Sometimes I had really big problems when I had a very salty and unhelpful. One my favorite times in Kahoot was probably my hardest challenge was when I was solo in a Kahoot game. I had no partner and everyone else did. I did not have as many points everyone else did and I yet found my way to 1st Place Victory!

Talking about the weather

My favorite kind of weather is when it rains. Or my favorite cloud are the Nimbostratus clouds. They are the puffy clouds and the produce even more rain than Stratus clouds that most people think produce the most rain. Sometimes, Nimbostratus clouds can even make it snow! I love it when it rains or snows. I love the rain when it gives the plants all their nutrients to survive. I always hear my favorite noises from the ran when it thumps on your car window and splashes in pothole puddles. I’ve always wanted to see it snow because from what I heard it is so amazing ad how much fun it is to play in it. When I played it only once, back in Pre-K, I had so much fun.

Money and happiness

I believe that money cannot be bought for happiness. I think that happiness won’t come to you, you have to do something to have fun. Although money can help you find happiness. But money is not someone or a fun event that gives you happiness. It also depends on what you buy; it could be a video games that makes you happy after building something great or having a long kill streak. Most of the times your friends and family make you happiness and fill throughout your life because they are people or things important to you.

Reasons why Dad should let me play more Minecraft with other people

* I love to interact with other people, especially my cousins.

* I love teaching them new things and show them the right things.

* Sometimes they make me realize new things and it interests me.

* I love how it is hilariously funny when they do some ridiculous weird things such as jumping into the void.

* I rarely play games with other people and it gets lonely for me when I accomplished all my achievements.

* It improves my social skills and I can make new friends.

Be calm under pressure

One of the Ted Talks I listened to today was about stress and ways to be calm when you are frustrated or under pressure. Speaker Daniel Levitin describes his experience when he was stressed when he had to prevent and fix his problem. He spent 8 hours thinking about what he should’ve done when he broke his window and forgot his passport. Daniel, a neuro scientist talked to Nobel prize winner, Danny Coleman. Danny told Daniel about a strategy to prevent stress by thinking about looking ahead about what could go wrong and think about how to reduce or incinerate the damage. This is called prospective hindsight. Solutions to loosing common items such as keys by keeping it in a common spot. You should put systems under place when you are stressed because you will not act your best.

Are you keeping a journal during these uncertain times? What do you remember from sixth grade – or wish you had written about?

How to cope with coronavirus anxiety

March 17, 2020

I hope that you are healthy and well.

Frank Herbert wrote, “What you cannot control, you must accept.” In this time of crisis, here are a few articles to help you cope with the anxiety and stress of the coronavirus.

For you: manage your anxiety. In “7 science-based strategies to cope with coronavirus anxiety” (3/10/20), an article posted on The Conversation, psychologist Jelena Kecmanovic reminds us that feeling anxiety is a normal human reaction, and offers suggestions to deal with our anxiety. One of the hardest science-based suggestions is to tackle the uncertainty paradox, allowing our anxious thoughts to wash over us and “accepting anxiety as an integral part of human experience.” One strategy that you can start right away is to strengthen your self-care. “Get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, spend time in nature and employ relaxation techniques when stressed.”

For kids: think like a life-long learner. With Hawaii public schools extending their spring break, think of it as a chance to start a project you are passionate about. You could film your own music video, read a book (or series) you’ve been waiting for, write a time travel story, finish a jigsaw puzzle, or conduct science experiments with household items (and parental supervision). To keep you organized, the Shining Mom blog has cheerful free printables, like a daily planner, reading list, and to-do list.


For parents: help children cope. Rachel Ehmke’s article, “Talking to kids about the coronavirus” on the Child Mind Institute website, offers 8 tips for reassuring kids and helping them work through their anxiety. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, Ehmke says, because “Not talking about something can actually make kids worry more.” One of the first things to do is deal with your own anxiety before having a conversation with a child.

For businesses: keep the doors open. The US Chamber of Commerce offers resources and guidelines for businesses to protect their customers, employees, and partners, and prepare for the impacts of the coronavirus. The Business Preparedness Checklist identifies five action items: prioritize critical operations, create a communication plan, establish possible teleworking policies, prepare for school closings, and coordinate with state and local health officials. There’s also a free Coronavirus Response Toolkit that includes social media graphics and a customizable flyer.

For nonprofits: continue serving clients. Businesses and schools may be closing, but nonprofits still have clients and patients who need their services. In the Network for Good article, “Coronavirus Impacting Your Nonprofit? Here’s What to Do” (3/12/20), Kimberly O’Donnell offers 6 ideas to help nonprofits keep their operations running and their fundraising on track. The most intriguing suggestion is “Dinner with a twist,” a virtual event where gala-dressed volunteers deliver meals to local ticket holders.

For investors: deal with stock market volatility. In the article, “7 Essential Investor Coping Strategies for the Coronavirus Market” (3/13/20), Barnet Sherman and Intelligent Investing remind us that sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. “The value of your portfolio has already declined,” Barnet writes. “Don’t convert those paper losses to real losses by selling.” The best tip: remember that you cannot pick the market bottom – or the market peak.

“Instead of shaking each other’s hands, we can look each other in the eye and send loving-kindness—wishing each other health, safety and peace,” writes Kelly Barron in an article on

Be healthy and be compassionate to one another.

Have you changed the way that you interact socially? What is your best advice for coping with anxiety during an emergency?

Learning about ourselves from the coronavirus

March 10, 2020

We are facing an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, COVID-19. The immediate health risk to Hawaii is low, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warn that “current circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic” (updated 3/7/2020).

Many businesses, schools, and organizations are sending emails assuring their customers and partners about the steps they are taking to keep the public safe, such as basic hygiene, travel warnings, and canceling events. Schools are cancelling trips, sports teams are playing without fans, and retailers are cancelling workshops.

In times of crisis, we learn a little more about ourselves and how we react to uncertainty.

Be prepared vs. accept that some things are out of our control. As I listened to two brothers argue, it was clear that we can react to the same situation very differently. One brother was alarmed and focused on preparation, buying supplies and starting to limit contact with other people (no handshakes or hugs). The other brother didn’t want to over-react and focused on taking reasonable precautions.

Take personal responsibility for our health. Whether it’s the coronavirus or a common cold, we all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and stay home if we are ill. I spoke with two people who had very different ideas about taking health precautions: one person was unconcerned about traveling outside Hawaii, as long as he is careful; another person, who is in a high-risk group, decided to practically self-quarantine themselves to remain healthy.

Guarantee trust, privacy, and security. Some companies are encouraging people to work from home. I think it’s a great opportunity if you’re able to do so.  There’s less traffic, lower spending on gas, and more time for family and doing things we enjoy. We just need to remember our responsibility to our employers and customers. It’s important to ensure trust (are people who they claim to be?), privacy (is confidentiality assured?), and security (is the data or communication secure?).

Plan for the best outcome. It can be tempting to concentrate on the crisis, but we also need to plan for the best outcome — enjoying today and planning events, projects, and vacations for the future.

How do you prepare for a health emergency or natural disaster? How do you react in a crisis?

Asking what the world needs

March 3, 2020

In 130 seconds, Daniel Pink and author Tom Rath gave me a new perspective on a question I’ve been struggling with for two years.

This was my dilemma: When I started working at a local nonprofit, I didn’t have any experience with the mental health field.

I took one psychology class in college. I didn’t have a lot of experience with therapy, mental illness, or healthcare in general. And I felt like someone else could do things better.

Added to that was the knowledge that this job wasn’t where I wanted to be.

There’s a big emphasis on following your passion in life and work, in finding what you would do even if you weren’t getting paid to do it. My passions were taking me towards writing, art, and education.

Daniel Pink’s Pinkcast 3.18, “This is the most important question to ask yourself” with Tom Rath, turned everything around.

Asking yourself “What’s my passion?” puts yourself at the center of the world, said Rath, author of “Life’s Great Question: Discover How You Contribute to the World” (2020).

The better question is, “What’s my greatest contribution?” When you start with what the people around you need, you can work back to who you are and your natural talents, and you’re focused on doing something that makes a real difference.

All night, I kept thinking about what I can contribute to the world.

There are many other people more knowledgeable about mental health and more experienced about healthcare administration. But I can help this nonprofit make a difference in Hawaii today.

It made me realize that maybe I’m exactly where I need to be – where I am needed.

What can you contribute to your neighborhood, to Hawaii, and to the world? What does the world need from you?