The past 4 months have put a very real strain on many things; the economy, the healthcare system, job opportunities, our relationships, and not surprisingly our mindset.
As the lockdown restrictions are eased, many are happy and thankful to be returning to the office, however there are many who are anxious about whether the business they work for will re-open, how much longer furlough will last and whether they will actually have a job waiting for them to return to. There is a lot of uncertainty and fear in the atmosphere right now as people look towards the future with no real idea of what is around the corner, which given the unchartered waters in which we find ourselves is hardly surprising!
Your mind is a powerful tool; it can make you or break you. It is also a muscle and therefore requires adequate training in order to function properly. You don’t expect to be able to run a marathon after 4 months of #lockdownsofalife without lacing up your trainers a few times a week, do you?
Below are five initial steps that can help to form positive habits around mindset, specifically those that can help you adjust and adapt to new challenges in life without feeling too stressed or anxious about the process and outcome.
…is a crucial first step in maintaining a positive outlook. You cannot change anything if you don’t at first know where you stand in relation to it. It’s also incredibly important for your mental health to allow any emotions to come to the surface and spill over in order to understand how you truly feel and release the burden of holding back the proverbial lump in your throat. In this way you can acknowledge any heaviness or anxiety within and start to process the feelings in such a way that allow you to move forward.
Control what you can control
…and let the rest go.
The current pandemic is out of your control. Government decisions are out of your control. Actually, a fair amount of life is beyond your control, so stop wasting energy on things that you cannot influence the outcome of and start focusing on your reactions to said things. If you are worried about money, don’t ignore your finances and hope your bills will sort themselves out. Make time (and a cup of tea) to sit down and go through them. Be realistic about where you can make cutbacks to save yourself a little extra money and stress this month.
No matter what the situation is, you can always control your reaction. Focus your energy here and you will start to notice big shifts in perspective and energy (mainly that you have more to spend on things that bring you joy like a new hobby or spending time with the people you love).
Move your body
…and do it outside. More than ever, people are starting to really appreciate fresh air, which is not at all surprising when you consider that we’ve been forced to stay inside for nearly the entire summer.
Interestingly, your body produces endocannabinoids (yes that is spelt like the active ingredient in cannabis and yes, it is chemically related) when you exercise which contributes to the endorphins and #exercisehigh that you feel post workout. As a trainer, I frequently see this manifest as a more positive outlook in my clients which leads to more productivity and healthier choices throughout the day!
Nourish your body
…speaking of healthier choices, I mentioned earlier that your brain is a muscle. Relatively, for its size, your brain requires a vast amount of energy, consuming in the region of 20% of your daily caloric intake just for itself! This means that order to maintain optimal brain function you should be focusing on brain healthy foods. Kimberley Wilson does a fantastic job of laying these out and going into the brain-specific benefits of each in her book ‘How To Build A Healthy Brain’.
It’s equally important to ensure that your body is properly nourished to combat feelings of lethargy and keep energy levels high. A lack of activity and natural light during the day can be triggers for a restless night, usually followed by that all too familiar groggy feeling when we wake up the next day.
Nourish your mind
…and not just with food. There is an abundance of new #mindful tools that can help you train your mind to be better at coping with difficult or stressful situations.
When we sustain a physical injury like a pulled or torn calf muscle it becomes difficult to walk because the muscle is no longer able to do its job effectively. The mind is responsible for a hell of a lot more functions than walking, besides conveying the subconscious need to walk to your various leg muscles. It controls digestion, hormonal function, emotions etc. so if your brain is suffering from a lack of care then it stands to reason that emotions may be all over the place, you could experience digestive issues like IBS, and maybe you even start to see signs of insomnia.
Remember: the mind is a powerful tool when used correctly or left to its own devices and you are ultimately in charge of that tool. Use it wisely.
…if you are currently knee deep in the job hunt, don’t spend all day every day dedicated to the task, because it’s mentally and emotionally exhausting. Make sure you plan your days out to keep some structure and help you avoid spending half the day in bed scrolling through social media (that really is the worst thing for your mental health!)
Schedule in regular breaks, activities, and socially distanced interaction that has nothing to do with work or looking for it. Own your day and carry that momentum forward.