Dear Readers: Stop. Stop for just a moment. With everything that’s going on in your life — your job, school, COVID, your family, your friends and the world around you — stress, anxiety, physical pain and fear can build. We all can have it. But there’s a way to cope.

It’s as simple as meditation. Meditation involves sitting quietly and focusing your mind on one thought or physical item for a short set period of time (two 20-minute sessions per day are usually recommended), while controlling your breathing. This practice can clear your mind, relieve stress and improve your focus, all done naturally.

Do some reading and research on the subject, and ask your doctor about the benefits of meditation. — Heloise

P.S. You might find using a mantra (a repeating word or phrase) helpful. For example, while breathing in through your nose, think “calm”; breathe out of your mouth while thinking: “quiet.”

Organization Nation

Dear Heloise: I looked at a house for sale, and the seller had “planted” artificial flowers in the yard. I did a double take for sure, but then I thought: This is a great idea!

Beautiful color and greenery, no maintenance, no deer chewing on the flowers, etc. — just a pretty picture! I ended up purchasing the home, and I asked the seller if she would keep the flowers there — perfect for someone like me who does not have a green thumb! — Melody R., San Antonio, Texas

Time Is On My Side

Dear Heloise: I teach my students about time using seconds:

100 seconds: 1 minute and 40 seconds

1,000 seconds: 16 and a half minutes

1 million seconds: 11 and a half days

1 billion seconds: almost 32 years

1 trillion seconds: about 31,710 years

It really puts things in perspective! — Ronnie W. in Ohio

Ronnie, wow! Makes you think! — Heloise

Plumb Different

Dear Heloise: I am a master plumber (licensed, certified by the state), and I want to tell your readers about the different types of plungers that are out there. Here we go:

The regular plunger people probably think about first typically has a wooden handle and a red cup. It works best on flat surfaces, like in the kitchen sink, to generate the vacuum pressure necessary to release a clog.

A toilet plunger, or flange plunger, has a cup like a regular plunger, but also has a downward-facing cup, which creates a seal over the drain of the toilet.

An accordion plunger is made of hard plastic with a lot of folds, like an accordion. It is cumbersome to use and can scratch surfaces.

Have one dedicated plunger for the sink and one for the toilet; don’t cross-contaminate them. — Tom S. in Pennsylvania

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