I wrote this article below specifically in response to my gym closing (insert tears), but really there is a lot of helpful information in here for dealing with the current pandemic and the social isolation, loss of routines and uncertainty that has ensued. I give you 7 Ways to Stay Sane During COVID-19. So, if you are not a gym rat you can skip the references specifically to my gym or insert the name of the thing you love that has just closed down. I will be writing all week on how to stay mentally and emotionally well, and even productive during this time.
As a member of UltiFit myself, I could not be more proud of their appropriate social response in closing, as well as their sincere dedication to their members by offering at home workouts (which I will be doing).
Given Brian and Tori’s dedication to us, I wanted to provide an act of service myself, as a psychologist and Executive coach, I wanted to help us all through this challenging time. It is not easy having to make hard choices for the benefit of our society, especially when we are young and healthy and not the one’s at high risk. It can feel unfair and confusing. You might be asking, is it really necessary?
The answer is yes. Even if you are young and healthy, you could carry the virus and transmit it to someone else who is more vulnerable and more likely to die from the virus. In addition, our medical system is not prepared for a sudden significant outbreak and if we don’t take precautions, it will be swamped and they will have to choose who gets the ventilator. If that is your loved one, you don’t want them weighing the worth of their life against someone else’s. Not to mention the 44 million Americans who do not have medical insurance and may not seek care because of the additional financial burden or if they do will not be able to pay their bills.
The sacrifice that Brian and Tori are making at closing their doors is an act of love for others, no matter how hard it is on all of us who crave our daily dose of endorphins and ass kicking.
So, as a psychologist (and certified yoga teacher), I wanted to offer you some tips for dealing with the stress of this event and the lack of social interaction.
1. Continue your workout routine. Your body (and your mind) have probably come to crave your workouts. I know mine have. Take advantage of what UltiFit is offering and do the at home workouts. I know this is a time where it is easy to slip into staying in your PJs, but you will feel so much better if you keep moving. Not exercising, especially when you are used to it, is like taking depressants. You will likely have a harder time coping if you stop and your brain and body will actually go through withdrawal.
2. Get out of your head with meditation. If you are new to meditation use a guided meditation. There are many free apps that offer this such as Insight Timer (my personal favorite), Calm and Headspace. YouTube is also a great resource for guided meditations including yoga nidra, which is a very deep form of relaxation.
3. Write a gratitude list every day. I know this sounds so simple and is likely not a new recommendation to many of you, but it is very powerful. Research has even demonstrated that writing a daily gratitude list can be just as effective as taking anti-depressants. What we put our attention on grows. If you focus on the fear of getting sick or the fear of losing your income or fears about the economy, you are going to feel awful about situations that you have very limited control about. If you focus on what you are grateful, you will feel better, train your brain to be on the lookout for things that you appreciate and you will discover more things that you appreciate coming into your life.
4. Drink more water. This will continue to keep your body happy and healthy, but also flush toxins.
5. Hold to your long-term vision and keep perspective. Our life, careers, and money are not one day, but the culmination of days, weeks, and years of decision making and attitude. Being present is a good thing, but so is aligning with the future we desire, looking back at how we have survived tough times before and staying the course. Just keep going in the most pragmatic, responsible, but hopeful way possible.
6. Stay connected with others through phone, email, and video chat. Don’t let yourself feel cut off from the world and don’t forget about those that may be feeling isolated, lonely and scared. Even in isolation, we don’t have to feel isolated. Make sure and reach out to someone every day. It will do both of you good.
7. Be of service. Ask yourself everyday how you can be of service to others. Perhaps it is through your work. Perhaps it is through an outreach. Perhaps it is a helpful or inspiring post on social media. Continue sharing your gifts with the world, now more than ever. Be of high service and add value, not fear, negativity, or even minimizing the situation. Be of honest service to others. Focusing on service will take the focus off your own fears and concerns and put it on something positive. Plus you’ll feel good for doing it and give yourself a little endorphin release along with some oxytocin, which we could all use.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to reach out to me on social media or by email [email protected]
Be Well every one and I will see you at the gym when we all return!