Editorial – Nov 2020: Cuddle Your Safety Blanket And Touch Your Fingertips.

November 1, 2020 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone,

We all have a safety blanket. Not in the literal sense, unless you’re really very young but we don’t appear to catch many in that age group. In case you don’t know, in context, a safety blanket is a generic term for something we regularly use to get away from the troubles of the world to have a few hours of respite from any sort of stress we have.

Considering the troubles of the world right now, the head can be so confused as to what to do next, we don’t always remember that this might restore a few hours of sanity and forget the isolation. The temptation is to find something new all the time to enjoy the new sensations. Really, though, it is familiarity that provides the best protection. As my editorials are supposed to be analytical and writing is one of my safety blankets, I’ll just keep writing and you can enjoy reading and see if anything is a fit for you. Remember this is for when stress is getting extreme and making sure if you’re prepared for it.

Unless you have a serious mental condition, it’s less likely that you’ll have prolonged stress. Even so, everyone should be able to find some relief as we are moving into a second lockdown or continuing with the first one. With the dark nights, we need to balance out our stresses to have some down time. That’s when we most need our safety blanket of whatever we watch, listen or read to get away from things. With our genre, its hardly surprising that a film or three is likely to head the safety blanket list.

The thing with the covid-19 lockdown, which varies across the world, without experience you aren’t likely to know when stress hits you or in what way it affects you. With practically everyone in the same situation who has to isolate, the percentages of mental problems are bound to go up if we forget of ignore our safety blanket. For some, over the past 8 or 9 months, you’ve no doubt had some experience of it. Feeling down or depressed, reflecting on your life and such is something all people do.

Usually it’s categorised as some form of identity crisis, more so as you count up the mistakes you made. It’s only when you can’t shake it and finding you’re getting excessively tired and sleeping then it starts to become serious and if you feel you’re living the same day each day then you get into a cycle that you either make use of the time or resent or hate. It’s how you cope with your own personal safety blanket is where you come into your own.

Shaking things up is often looking for things to relieve stress. In winter, with its shorter hours of light, you’re now in a whole different level of stress. Oh, if you suffer SAD effect, get a natural light lamp for your living room. It’s got a slightly blue tint in its light which you’ll get used to within the day and probably will reduce the effect of not enough sunlight, especially in the UK when overcast really is grey these days. Natural light lamps all formats and you might prefer a warm white or daylight white if LED.

Stress, as I pointed out last month, does have a tendency to make people forget to do things and accept your lot or rebel. There’s a lot of the latter going on but with most people in the same situation, you can’t necessarily see the wood for the trees.

What is really needed is something to get you out of your current situation and break things up. This can come from a variety of sources. As we’re a geek site, I have to suppose the you that I think is reading this has some level of geekiness that will recognise some common denominators. We can’t protect the whole world, but at least as geeks we will have some different options to play without looking too crazy, for the want of a better word.

Our safety blankets might look bizarre to other people. For us geeks, watching the first two ‘Alien’ films can work, more so, as unlike most of the ‘Predator’ films don’t need a muggy hot summer night. You would think all that violence and death would be a downswing, even if they both end up having sleep dreams for Ripley. However, part of any safety blanket for any film is familiarity and never getting tired of watching again and again, with a preference to season. The geekiness in us is probably looking for something we haven’t spotted before. It would be interesting to see if there are any contrary trends.

I doubt if any really sad films, especially the endings, would really work. I got caught by surprise and a forgotten shock by the ending of black comedy ‘Come Back To The 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean’ (1982) when I watched it last yuletide and it was a film I hadn’t seen in years and discovering most of the actors had since died. I was better off watching ‘Harvey’ (1950) or ‘What’s Up, Doc?’ (1972) in previous years. Don’t go for films that you rarely watch or remember, no one can anticipate the wrong kind of emotional reaction.

This brings up a secondary problem, geekwise, we are likely to have a lot of favourite films. Picking out the right film for the right moment is a lot trickier and might not always be SF. Don’t go for ones where you are likely to over-analyse, well, unless you are me and spotting something that can make a potential article. Looking out for errors and such doesn’t necessarily rule them as a good safety blanket. However, having several favourite films to choose from it always a good thing. A comedy is always likely to break any thoughts of depression.

Go through your favourites and match for mood or randomness. We might pick up on new films but it is always the ones we fall back on that are our own personal safety blankets. Films work better because they engulf all our senses for a couple hours. Books, generally, work for extended periods longer than films and are more like filling in odd gaps across a different parts of the day. Different needs but both work although I suspect your choice of favoured repeat books is a lot smaller than with films.

One shouldn’t forget re-watching TV series and having a regular fix of the safety blanket. Not a bad thing in itself. It’s something regular and late at night likely to put you in a restive mood. Oddly, it can work with something new but it’s the regularity that builds up as another safety blanket as you want to know what happens next.

Mental problems are finally being noted in the media but, as with all such things, it can be messed up with symptoms common to other infections. Certainly, an odd breathlessness and feeling tired might sound light covid-19 but they are also signs of a building mental problem, not least of which not knowing what it is. Although maybe not directly associated with depression, such things can make you introspective and that potentially sets that cycle going. If you relive elements of your past, often as not you’ll be working on elements that went wrong rather than right. It’s impossible to change the past, just ensure you make a better future. Remind yourself of that continually. Simple things like that will keep things in check.

A lot of stress problems can be exasperated by worry and we all have something to worry about. More so now as we all keep our distance. Maintaining an equilibrium is the trickiest part.

There is something else to consider. As an acute chronic agoraphobic, the number of my stresses can get out of control. More so, as in the current pandemic, I now have an extra stress or three to contemplate. Oddly, I don’t count neither writing or editing as stressful but as safety blankets.

However, at my most agoraphobic extreme, I can sound like an asthmatic before it gets progressively worse if I don’t rest for a couple days around my town shopping. As I’m a problem solver, I gave it some thought and remember an old Zen yoga technique. I’m not going to guarantee it will work for all of you but it might be worth you trying.

            Sit down and make yourself comfortable. Touch your thumb and middle fingertip together on both hands and keep them that way. If you need to do anything with any of your other fingers, rest your third finger on the base of your thumb but it’s the tips that is the real secret.

As long as you keep it that way, it should calm down any stress effect. A warning: until you get used to it, release one hand at a time before you find you have to use your hands. I released both hands at the same time initially and my stress returned rather too spectacularly. I still have this particular stress but is at least more controllable. Once the technique is used, you can use it when walking although I wouldn’t recommend any other finger activity, like typing, using it. If it works for you, let me know. I’ve been having various people I know trying it effectively. If it works for you, get your friends to try it as well.

We live in stressful times and any technique that can bring it down is worth trying, even one of mine. It should come as no surprise that I looked around to find out why it works and still without much clear evidence other than one business website where it and 5 other hand techniques are taught to businessmen to make them relax. Obviously, it can’t work for all businessmen or maybe not all of them have sought it out.

Let’s hope some of the above will help relieve any stress you might be experiencing or its going to be a long winter.

Thank you, take care, good night and breath properly from the base of the diaphragm.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: Autumn leaves are the colours of an artist’s palate.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: We learn from anything and test it.

The Reveal: Humans are a fragile species.

Observation: Looking at ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ again, as you do, you do have to wonder why Kubrick missed the opportunity to show the meal times on the Aries-1B Lunar Shuttle and USS Discovery to be having the same sold meal than the former having what is, for all intents and purposes, liquid in a zero-gravity environment. Of course, we now know that a liquid diet in space isn’t exactly helpful. Likewise, one could go further and ask why the moon rocket bus has a diet of sandwiches but not available for the crew of the Discovery for a change of meal.

Observation: While in the same film, it does look like the jobs for pilots are more available than those of any other occupation in space. One can only hope the receptionist on the space station wheel has more than one occupation than waiting for space shuttles to arrive.

Observation: In his introduction, newscaster Kenneth Kendall points out the Discovery has been on the Jupiter Mission 3 weeks when the interview was carried out. As with all films, directors tend to be very careful with how they display the passing of time in a film yet Kubrick clearly gives the information if you listen out to it. However, with interviewer Martin Amor, they are a year in flight but haven’t reached the Asteroid Belt yet. As with the novelisation, that means Bowman was alone in the Discovery for over a year before reaching Jupiter space.

Feeling Stressed: Apply the finger technique.



Category: Culture

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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