Here we are at Thanksgiving again, and this year it comes after an emotionally draining November election.
Since it’s this time of year, it’s a safe bet to ask someone what you’re grateful for. Aside from the expected jokes your weird Uncle Harry will make about being grateful the election is over, so your NCIS reboot won’t be interrupted by political ads, you might want to take some time to consider this question.
It turns out that gratitude can improve your health.
There are many scientifically proven benefits of saying thank you. It can lead to improved mental and physical health. A 2009 peer-reviewed article from the National Library of Medicine determined that gratitude stimulates the brain, including the reward system.
Basically, being grateful tricks your brain into working better and releasing feel-good chemicals. The result for you is happiness and improved health. Think of it as a life hack.
While it’s a little frustrating to know that our brains are basically tiny babies who can be distracted from a bout of tears by some candy, it’s also comforting. Because other studies have shown that people experience these benefits even if they don’t actually feel grateful. You can literally fake it “until you make it.”
So maybe this year take a few minutes to include some good things in your life. Perhaps those feel-good chemicals will surface before the extended family arrives.
Thanksgiving is also a time when many people travel. We think this is a good opportunity to remind these travelers of some safety tips.
COVID-19 still exists, and travel around the holidays is a very common time to experience exposure.
The number of cases and deaths has dropped dramatically, and widespread access to the vaccine helped. However, this is still not always enough. The case of COVID-19 can be mild and similar to the common cold, but there are still people who develop severe cases with long-term health consequences and death.
So if you feel sick, don’t travel and make sure you get tested. If you’re going on a train or plane, black Friday shopping in the middle of the night, attending a soccer party or any other activity involving hundreds of other people, consider wearing a mask and testing it two or three days beforehand afterward.
winter is coming
As temperatures continue to drop and prices rise, homeowners will start to get creative with saving money on home heating. Make sure that your pursuit of affordable solutions does not put your life at risk.
Last Monday, November 14th, a hotel in Camden caught fire. We were on site for about three hours while firefighters from five municipalities worked together to put out the flames.
While the Camden fire chief said he could not confirm the cause of the fire at the scene, the hotel owner said his friend occupying that room was using a space heater.
Luckily no one was hurt, but that’s likely only because there was no one inside. The damage was massive. This entire unit in the motel was destroyed, and it’s likely that the unit next door sustained major damage as well.
Maine Fire Chief Joseph Thomas reported 27 fire deaths in 2021. Thomas said this is the highest number of fire deaths since 1992, when there were 29 fire-related deaths. This year there have been 19 fire deaths so far.
The leading causes of structure fires in Maine in 2021 were cooking and heating, with a total of more than 500 fires caused by those two causes alone. Most of these houses were of some kind.
Please stay aware while cooking and while using wood stoves and electric heaters. Check with your local fire department if you are unsure of the safety of your setup.
If you are struggling to get heating, talk to your city office. Most cities have some kind of money set up to help residents, plus they have a wide range of other resources available.
The Camden Herald and The Courier-Gazette editorial boards collaborate on important local issues.
Column: The Elephant at the Transport Station