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Recreation Department

National Poppy Day May 22

National Poppy Day helps brighten veterans’ outlook during COVID-19 crisis

(BPT) – With COVID-19 changing the way we interact, gather and celebrate, many holidays will look different this year, including Memorial Day. But that doesn’t mean servicemembers, veterans and their families need our support any less.

In fact, several members of the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) are doing their part to protect and honor veterans during the pandemic. Sandy Deacon of ALA Unit 37 in Ames, Iowa, delivered food to an Iowa veterans home along with other ALA members, and Carol Kottom of Unit 270 in Buffalo, Minnesota, has been sewing masks for veterans.

“Our veterans spent part of their lives looking out for us. It’s time we help take care of them. Many are elderly, and for medical reasons, are unable to do things for themselves,” Kottom said about her unit’s efforts. “Whether you are a veteran, military or neighbor, ALA cares about you and wants to make sure you are safe and taken care of.”

This Memorial Day, large services and gatherings will not be possible, but the true meaning of this day lives on through the contributions of veterans and military and in the way we support these heroes throughout the year.

In 2017, the U.S. Congress designated the Friday before Memorial Day as National Poppy Day to honor those who have fought for our freedoms. The poppy is recognized around the world as a memorial flower to honor servicemembers who have died in conflict since World War I, when the poem “In Flanders Fields” was written by Lt. Col. John McCrae in 1915. The poem refers to poppies that covered the graves of soldiers who lost their lives in Belgium and France. Since the ALA’s founding a century ago, the organization has memorialized the blood-red flower by conducting poppy distribution days to collect donations in meeting the needs of U.S. veterans, servicemembers and their families.

This year, the poppy takes on heightened significance. At a time when many Americans are unable to gather for Memorial Day ceremonies and events, a visible symbol of solidarity with veterans can inspire support and serve as a reminder of the important roles our servicemembers play in keeping us safe every day. This year, since ALA members and volunteers can’t distribute poppies in person, here’s how everyone can observe National Poppy Day:

  • Share a poppy on your social media pages to spread awareness. You can go to the American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters Facebook page (@ALAforVeterans) to find the appropriate graphics, or search for National Poppy Day in Facebook frames.
  • The ALA will host a virtual National Poppy Day event via Facebook on May 22 at noon EDT.
  • For Memorial Day, The American Legion is hosting a virtual service starting May 22 via their Facebook and Twitter pages.
  • If you’d like to be more involved, you can always make a donation to your local American Legion Family.

During these uncertain times, we are all focused on keeping our families healthy and safe. While it may be difficult to celebrate and honor our veterans and military families the ways we did in the past, the poppy reminds us to support these heroes who have devoted their lives to protecting Americans every day.

For more information on how you can volunteer, join or donate to the American Legion Auxiliary, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org.

Two Women Talking on Couch

7 steps to manage stress and build resilience

(BPT) – As recent months have demonstrated, stress is unavoidable. Now more than ever, it’s important to understand stress and how we can manage it. While stress can be beneficial, too much of it can be harmful. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women’s Health explains a bit about the science behind stress, provides several simple steps that might help reduce it and has a webpage, https://go.usa.gov/xvydm, with some resources available to help.

When the body senses a threat (or stressor), it goes on high alert, and once the threat passes, the body quickly recovers. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Stressors can include health matters, work, money, family issues, racism or gender inequality, and regular daily hassles. With unrelenting or too many stressors, your body might be on a constant state of high alert, leading to poor concentration, bad moods, professional burnout, and mental and physical health problems. When stress becomes chronic, the body cannot return to normal functioning. Chronic stress can be linked with health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and anxiety.

Stress affects women and men differently. Many conditions associated with stress — such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety — are more common in women than men.

Beyond sex and gender differences, there are individual differences, too. Some people are more resilient than others. Stress affects them less or more temporarily, and they might even perform better under stress. “There’s a saying, ‘It’s not how far you fall; it’s how high you bounce.’ For those of us who don’t bounce back so easily, there’s good news. Resilience, to some extent, can be learned and there are some simple, practical things that people can do that may make a noticeable difference,” says Dr. Janine Austin Clayton, Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. Clayton explains that some resilient people might also develop a greater appreciation for their lives, family, friends or other matters after stress.

Stress management and resilience building are particularly important to the health of women. Here are several tips to help women as well as men:

  1. Recognize and counter signs of stress. Your body sends signals that it’s stressed, including difficulty concentrating, headaches, cold hands, tight muscles, a nervous stomach, clenched teeth, feeling on edge, fidgety, irritable or withdrawn. Knowing how your body communicates can help you deal with stressful moments. Learn to not only recognize but also to name these feelings, either to oneself or to a friend. Then, take action to counter their effects. For example, deep breathing, stretching, going for a walk, writing down your thoughts and taking quiet time to focus can help induce relaxation and reduce tension.
  2. Take time for yourself. Make taking care of yourself a daily routine. It’s not selfish or self-indulgent — and it might require saying “no” to requests or prioritizing yourself along with your responsibilities. Start with small changes in your routine to help build resilience to stressful circumstances. Work in time to exercise, eat healthy foods, participate in relaxing activities and sleep. In fact, including a regimen of exercise, which for some may include yoga or meditation, can be very important when feeling stressed. Also, take time to notice the “good minutes” in each day or to do something that you enjoy, such as reading a book or listening to music, which can be a way to shift your attention and focus on the positive rather than the negative.
  3. Try new routines. From scheduling bath and bedtimes to blocking off time to plan and prioritize tasks, additional structure can provide a daily framework that allows you to attune to your body’s signals. Then, you can take steps to potentially manage stress earlier than you once did.
  4. Stay connected and make new friends. Stay in touch with family, friends and groups in your life — technology makes this easier than ever. Having or being a person to talk with can be reassuring and calming. Using video features can enhance the connection in telecommunication or online communications for some people.
  5. See problems through a different lens. Experts call changing the way we think about and respond to stress “reframing.” View sitting in traffic or around the house as an opportunity to enjoy music, podcasts or pleasant views. Reduce anger in response to rude or aggressive behavior by imagining what might be happening in that person’s life. Keeping situations in perspective is an important way to boost stress resilience. Other steps include positive thinking and creating plans before you begin to resolve problems. You can practice reframing and get better at it over time.
  6. Seek help with problems. Many people experience the same day-to-day strains related to caregiving, relationships, health, work and money. Look to friends and family, as appropriate, or other trusted individuals or resources for tips and information.
  7. Talk to a health professional if stress is affecting your well-being, you feel you cannot manage the stress you’re experiencing, or stress has caused you to engage in or increase substance use. Seek appropriate care if stress is harming your relationships or ability to work. If you have suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Lifeline chat is a service available to everyone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, if you need help locating a mental health provider, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a site that can assist you at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov. People who have experienced traumatic stress (directly or indirectly experiencing life-threatening and dangerous events) should find a treatment provider who practices trauma informed care — see https://go.usa.gov/xvydm for details. Additionally, in times of disasters and other sorts of emergencies, the National Disaster Distress Helpline (Call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TALKWITHUS” to 66746) can provide crisis counseling, emotional support and referrals to care related to disasters and public health emergencies.

Recognizing individual signals of a body’s stress responses and learning to respond to those signals in new ways can help build the emotional, intellectual and physical strength that comprise resilience, which can help you tackle future stressors.

The NIH supports research to understand how stress affects health — and why some are resilient to stress while others have difficulties, as well as how different therapies and resilience-boosting techniques work and have a positive effect on health and well-being. The NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health offers links to information about stress (including anxiety about the coronavirus), wellness, tips on managing common sources of stress, and opportunities to join research projects on stress or other health matters at https://go.usa.gov/xvydm.

Cinco De Mayo Activities Covid-19

Happy Cinco de Mayo

In these unprecedented times we are having to get creative in how we observe holidays and traditions. If you’re one who enjoys the Cinco de Mayo holiday we’ve gathered some virtual activities you can use to have a fun fiesta.

Since many of us have more time than usual this year, now’s a perfect opportunity to actually learn about the history of this holiday.

Now would be a perfect time, to virtually visit Mexico City via Google Earth. Or you can also observe Mexican culture through landmarks and museums at Google’s Art and Culture resource. Perhaps you’d like to watch cumbia or any Mexican dances?

Into Cars? Take a walk through a lowrider virtual car show. Would you prefer a DIY project? Involve the kids and make these Fiesta Flowers or Homemade Maracas.

Don’t forget that Cinco de Mayo falls on Taco Tuesday, a perfect time to prepare your celebratory meal or perhaps you want to learn a new favorite with authentic Mexican recipes? What goes better with tacos than guacamole? Alton Brown has the perfect recipe.

If you’re looking to have a delicious Mexican dinner delivered to your home this year, try one of these local favorites.

Los Panchos, 235 N. Orange, Exeter. Open every day from 10a.m. to 8 p.m. and have daily specials. Phone: (559) 592-5310

Vallarta Mexican Restaurant, 139 E Pine St Exeter, California. Open from 11am til 2pm & 5pm until 7:00pm. Call your pickup and delivery order to 559-592-5207.

Taco Bell, 1107 W Visalia Rd, Exeter, CA 93221. Open 10 a.m. to midnight drive-through meals. Call (559) 592-1894 or visit website to place an order. Delivery is available through Grubhub.

Exeter Insider Tip

If you haven’t joined the Facebook Group Buy Local Exeter CA you’re missing out. Its packed with up to the minute specials from local businesses and provides you a way to support your local community.

Fiesta Time

USA Multicultural will host a Cinco de Mayo Virtual Festival on Tuesday, May 5th, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Old Town San Diego will come to life through your television or computer from 4 to 6:30 when they live stream their celebration on Facebook, Youtube and their own website.

Mario Lopez will host a Cinco de Mayo party on Instagram Live on Tuesday evening at 2:00 to 4 PM. Mario and his wife, Courtney will teach salsa dancing.

Dallas, Texas – the Official Home of the Frozen Margarita – will host America’s Cinco de Mayo Happy Hour from 3-5 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, May 5, live on YouTube. 

If you don’t have people to celebrate with at home—or even if you do—gather your friends on a group Zoom call, and animate it with some fun Zoom backgrounds from Del Taco.

Happy Mothers Day Card

In Celebration of Mothers Day

It has never been so apparent as now just how much mothers do to keep everything operating. This Sunday on Mothers Day you may not be able to spend time with Mom in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see her virtually.

Overcoming technical difficulties will be worth the time spent. Here are some of the most reliable video chat options:

One of the most popular ways to celebrate Mom is brunch, but since many of our favorite places are out of service right now, you’ll have to improvise. The Exeter Chamber has been keeping us posted on the latest offerings from local restaurants on their Buy Local Exeter CA Facebook Group. Many offer curbside pickup as well as delivery. You can also order from Grubhub

Good Housekeeping Magazine has published an article on DIY brunch decorations.

Flowers are also a traditional way to show Mom some love. Exeter Flower Company is a full-service florist offering delivery. Sequoia Produce and Flowers will have fresh floral bouquets and plants for Mother’s Day week. To order, call 592-0022 or visit their Facebook page.

Do you have an idea for our Virtual Recreation Center page? Please share by using the form at the bottom.

Earth Day Activities

50 years of celebrating Earth Day

With the stay at home being observed throughout the US, Earth Day has gone digital. Although Exeter’s Earth Day Health and Resource Fair for 2020 have been cancelled, you can still observe this worthy holiday. Below are several resources for celebrating Earth Day.

Do you have any activities that you’d like to add to our Virtual Recreation Center? Please share them using our contact form at the bottom of the Virtual Recreation Center page.

Workout with a trooper

Kids workout

Kids have a lot of energy, its no secret. But, at this time of sheltering at home, it’s especially hard on them. In an effort to get kids moving at this tough time, here are some resources to get fitness into their routine.

If you have Amazon Prime, you can also check out these videos:

Rocky Hill Yoga

Virtual Yoga Practice

Rocky Hill Yoga & Meditation owner and instructor Dina Restivo, has offered members of the community this hour-long, user-friendly video of yoga practice.

She cautions that if you’re new to yoga, please take it slow.

This video will only be online for the six days. If you like, you can download it from here.

Namaste, 

Dina Restivo

Rocky Hill Yoga & Meditation was set to open in March but it had to be postponed due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) stay at home mandate. She hopes to open as soon as she can do so responsibly.

Exeter Bear wearing Face Mask

Make a face mask with household items

The CDC says it is now advisable for everyone to wear masks. When you can’t buy one, you should make it yourself. Here are some tutorials. The precaution is to be used in addition to, and not instead of, maintaining social distance of at least six feet from other people. Other measures—including avoiding touching your face—should also continue to be front-of-mind anytime you are in public spaces outside your home. For more information, please see CDC Guidelines on Face Masks.

Luckily, if we can use that term in this situation, there are a huge number of online DIY tutorials on making your own face masks. The masks can be made in minutes and require little more than a pair of scissors or, if you’re feeling ambitious, a mini sewing kit or machine. Here are some resources of them.

Maskbuilders.com says anyone can make a mask from common household items. They have a template and instructions on their website. And, they posted a easy-to-follow video on Youtube.

No sewing required

If you can sew

Exeter Water Tower Jigsaw

Distract Yourself with Puzzles

Puzzles can be quite nurturing when we’re going through challenging times. These relaxing, challenging, solution-focused and inexpensive (or free) puzzles never lose their appeal. By focusing our minds on solving problems, and asking us to think outside the box, puzzles can paradoxically be the solution to enduring scary and uncertain times.

Below are links to some puzzles we have fun. To share your favorite resources, please submit yours on our Virtual Recreation Center page.

Many people get their daily fix of crossword puzzles from newspapers. The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Washington Post daily puzzles have almost two weeks of archived daily crosswords. You can access them for free.

Board with Crosswords? Why not try an Acrostic Puzzle. You find crossword style clues but you need to reveal a hidden quote. Try your luck at acrostics.puzzlebaron.com where you can print out your puzzle or play online.

To share your favorite resources, please submit yours on our Virtual Recreation Center page.