Wheeoo did life ever take a wild turn over the past week, right? I mean, last Tuesday things were unraveling pretty quickly but I still woke up early and went to work at the gym. By mid-afternoon the gym was closed and I was at home, wondering what was going to happen next.
This is serious business and everyone is stressed to the max. But this trainer would submit that the biggest health risk our society is facing right now is not COVID-19, it’s stress and anxiety – EVERYONE is scared and uncertain and it’s showing. So hopefully on this page you’ll find some laughs and some different ways to cope and stay positive. But first…
Go ahead and feel the bad feelings. A couple of days ago I made myself into a big ol’ human burrito and wept and mooched the day away. Now, I’m not telling you that story to be all “I’m not okay and this isn’t okay and it’s okay to not be okay”, but to emphasize that yeah, all the dipshittery in the world right now is a little horrifying. None of us are ok; that would be crazy. Wouldn’t you be a little distrusting of anyone who was all happy and business-as-usual and living their best life right now? I would; that’s some psychotic bullshit. So, give yourself permission to go into that dark, fearful place and wallow, grieve, be scared, cry…but wait! Before you do that, set a timer. Give yourself an hour, a couple of hours, a day – but put some hard edges around how long you’ll indulge that nastiness. Then, when your phone beeps at you, wipe the tears away and do whatever you need to to pull your bad self out of it and get back to putting one foot in front of the other. The sad stuff is normal; we’re all human – but we aren’t letting it take over. Not on my watch! If you’re having trouble give these strategies a try:
- This may sound a little woo-woo but hear me out….because it WORKS. Practice gratitude: write it down, think about it, meditate, I don’t care how you do it, I just want you to spend some time each day focussing on what you do have going for you. And it’s a lot! If you’re here reading this, you have a roof over your head, access to the internet, and (probably) snacks. There are also people who care about you, so you’re doing pretty well, right? Now, there is solid science out there that proves that purposefully practicing gratitude reduces cortisol (the stress hormone), improves your cardiac function, and triggers hypothalamic regulation (which in turn helps you sleep better and boosts recovery and resiliency.) If you take the time regularly to acknowledge all the little awesome things in your life, you will actually change your brain chemistry. Isn’t that pretty freaking cool? So tell me: what are you grateful for today? I’m serious – email me here because I want to hear from you.
- One door closes, another door opens: I know, it kinda does feel like all the doors are closing right now – I mean, we’re watching our economy go to shit, our businesses are dissolving in front of us, there’s financial ruin right around the corner for lots of us, and the threat of getting sick is real. We can’t even lean on the things we used to do to keep us sane. Everythings going to look different on the other side. EVERYTHING. So when things are looking bleak, here’s a thought experiment to try: think back to a time when you lost something major. Maybe a marriage, a death, a career – it probably felt like the end of life as you knew it, but what positive changes came out of it? Did you grow? Change? What’s good in your life that might not have happened if that door hadn’t slammed shut? So yeah, things will look very different after this crisis – no dispute there. But it might open some other doors and create space for new opportunities that we haven’t even considered yet. All we have to do is stay the fuck home for a little while and coccoon like the porky little caterpillars we are, be adaptible and creative, and we could fly out the other end like beautiful butterflies spraying out of a unicorn’s butthole.
- Have a laugh, for fuck’s sake! There are lots of reasons why this is a good idea but the biggest one is that you’ll feel better…and the internet is FULL of shit to laugh at; you don’t have to go looking that hard. But don’t get distracted by current events or clickbait. DON’T do it, do you hear – Never mind, maybe the internet was a bad suggestion and it’ll just leave you more depressed. Anyway, find something funny – a movie or a book or call up a friend who was also there that time that guy split his pants. Laughter bonds us together and keeps us sane, but if that’s not reason enough for you…we can dig a little deeper. Laughter increases the activity of your natural killer (NK) cells, a component of your immune system, boosting up your ability to fight off viruses and bacteria. Also laughter releases endorphins, stimulates the cardiovascular system, and burns some extra calories which is important because of all the stress baking and munching we’ve all been doing. So laugh your fool heads off! Seems like the only sensible thing to do under the circumstances.
- Reconnect with your values. We’re back to woo-woo territory here so I’m gonna tread lightly lest I end up sounding like some wannabe self-help guru assclown, but I wouldn’t include it here if it didn’t actually work. What I mean by that is, remember what drives you forward. This might be a fun time to explore your core values, cut up some magazines and make a vision board if you’re crafty, or just mull it over while you go for a walk. What drives you? What’s really important? Reconnect with that stuff because chances are while we were living regular life, like a couple of weeks ago, you lost sight of it a little bit. But if you’re clear about what your values are, they can be a renewable source of strength and inspiration when you’re struggling. Your core values are the things that make the struggle worthwhile.
- Get some exercise! Do I have to say it again? Didn’t think so. Don’t roll your eyes at me.
That’s what I’ve got! I hope this helps. Just keep swimming, friends!