In Times of Uncertainty
Times this can easily spark fear. The mind is a funny, powerful thing. How a situation is presented and viewed can shape our beliefs. This can easily trap us in a negative feedback loop, which can sometimes feel impossible to escape.
When we allow our mind to get caught up in negative thinking it triggers certain hormonal chemical responses in the body. This activates the nervous system's fight / flight / freeze response which influences our whole state of being. We go into “emergency / protect mode”.
From this state we tend to be more reactive and defensive. The actions we then take and the result of these actions circle back around and shape our perspective. This perspective forms how we view ourselves, others and the world. Everything we experience is reflected through this lens.
Our belief(s) shape our thinking. Our thinking triggers our emotions. Our emotions influence our actions. The results of our actions tend to confirm our belief(s).
And there we are...caught in a negative mental feedback loop.
How do you get out of this mess!?!
Below are the things that seem to help me from falling down this rabbit hole.
1. Keep a routine
It's easy to spend all day in our pjs when there is nowhere we need to be. However, just starting a regular routine can shift our mindset to a more productive, positive state. Try coaching yourself like you would a child.
For example; upon waking; make your bed, get dressed, brush your teeth, do some mindfulness meditation, have some quiet time with a cup of coffee or tea (good luck parents with young kids!) and eat a good breakfast. Routines help us feel that sense of accomplishment and purpose we all seek. The Psychology Of Daily Routine
2. Accomplish something productive everyday.
Accomplishing something productive everyday helps set my mind in a positive place. Maybe it's writing a blog post you think will have a positive impact on someone. Maybe it’s accomplishing some yard work you’ve been neglecting. Maybe it’s exercising. This a huge one for me. After finishing a good workout everything seems a little brighter and more positive. The Science of Accomplishing Your Goals
3. Minimize sensational news intake
Most mainstream media is sensational to some extent. With situations like we are currently facing, I find that minimizing mainstream media helps me stay positive.
Sticking with civil defense updates through services like Everbridge helps keep me stay informed by providing real-time recommendations and action I can take.
Sensational news often inundates us with information that is out of our control. As a result we experience the emotions that come with the story but without the actionable steps we can take to potentially rectify the situation. So, we’re left dealing with pent-up fear, anger and frustration.
Be selective of what you allow to influence your thinking. The Psychological Effects of TV News
4. Ensure you're getting good sleep
The duration and quality of sleep has a major impact on how we handle stress. Sleep deprivation has been linked to depression, suicidal tendencies as well as poor cognitive and physical performance. Quality sleep “resets” our hormonal and mental health. I’ve found one of the first step in ensuring good quality sleep is #1, a healthy routine. Mayo Clinic - Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep
5. Eat well
Watch the sugar, processed carbs and alcohol intake. They impact our blood sugar which affects how we deal with stress and stressful situations and can easily alter our mood. Can Sugar Make You Stressed?
6. Exercise Daily
This should probably be #1 on the list, but then again, I'm a little biased.
In addition to the physiological benefits often advocated, exercising regularly has many psychological benefits including; reducing stress, decreasing depression and improving anxiety. Some research has indicated exercise can be as effective as medication in the treatment of mild depression and anxiety. How Your Mental Health Reaps the Benefits of Exercise
Here are my general recommendations for most people, pending your doctor’s approval:
A. Strength train 2-4 days a week, pending goals and level of conditioning.
B. Do some form of cardiovascular conditioning 3-4 days a week, this could be as simple as a 20-40 minute walk.
C. Spend at least a cumulative hour a week relaxing and gently stretching or moving the body. Practices like tai chi, qigong and yoga are great options.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
Here is a link to a total body workout on my YouTube channel. There are several in the playlist "Workouts". Some using simply body weight others requiring minimal equipment.
*If you would like something specifically designed for you or if you would like to join one of my online workout groups please contact me.
7. Create some kind of mindset or meditation routine
Whether it's yoga, tai chi, qigong or some meditation practice; consistently placing our attention on our body and breath has a powerful effect on thoughts, mood and the ability to handle stress.
Meditation: Take a stress-reduction break wherever you are
Here is a video of a simple breathing technique I recorded a few years back. You’d be surprised how just the act of doing this everyday impacts your breathing and your mindset.
Here are videos of a short yoga and qigong routine. Reach out if you are interested in doing a yoga, qigong or meditation class or if you would like more videos.
I hope this is helpful. If so, please leave a comment or message me directly. Your feedback is helpful and motivating. Feel free to contact me if you’d like more information on any of these topics.
I’m currently offering online personal and small group fitness training as well as nutrition coaching. Reach out if you‘re interested!
Make healthy choices during this time, abide by suggested DOH guidelines and wash those hands!
“The Truth is that the joy you find in all things is simply the reflection of Joy of your own Inner Self.” -Swami Muktananda A Meditation and Yogic Tradition