Minding Your Mind and Body During COVID

By Tia Norris, May 2020 Issue of Echo Magazine in Phoenix, AZ.

Well … that certainly was unexpected. With the majority of us now working at home — and really, entirely living at home — I think it’s safe to say that we’re all dealing with novel mental and physical challenges in this unprecedented time. As if self-care wasn’t hard enough for many people when the world was quasi-normal, COVID-19 has thrown a figurative atom bomb into the wellness equation. Many of my clients have reported critical disruption to mental health, physical movement, nutrition, stress management, and other vital components of wellbeing. Let’s talk about some ways to stress less, move more, and take better care of ourselves during the virus era: 

Mental health

Keep your routines and schedules. It’s imperative that we all keep as close to a routine as possible right now — for things like showers and hygiene, getting dressed for work, eating and drinking at the same times, working out at the same times, etc. As an example: I am working from home right now, but I will drive around the block before “clocking in” to give my mindset an opportunity to shift into work mode. It’s a no brainer that hygiene, rituals of comfort, and basic nutrition will boost productivity, focus, and feelings of wellbeing throughout your entire day, at work and beyond.

Read or watch the news once per day and check your sources vigorously. Beware, the mountains of misinformation piling up by the second regarding the virus. You simply cannot trust hearsay of “he said, she said, I saw this new law going into effect tomorrow invoking Martial Law, etc.” Bluntly, I simply do not trust what people say verbally anymore until I’ve read it as a government mandate or an explicit CDC guideline. There is simply too much exaggeration, critical misunderstanding, and, frankly, bullshit circulating faster than the virus itself right now. Check the news once per day to get the facts; and then go about your day as normal. Think critically and check your sources. 

Avoid hoarding. Does anyone understand the toilet paper hoarding? My gosh, people. Enough, already! Verified sources report that supply chains and production for essential goods is working seamlessly, and there’s no need for hoarding. Stockpiling goods produces unnecessary panic. Panic and stress are not just abstract topics — they’re biological, meaning they have serious consequences on your wellbeing. Stop the negativity where you can — and hoarding is an easy corner to cut. Shop normally, please.

Emotional health

Call your friends and family. Widen your e-circle. It’s indisputable science that humans are social creatures. We are not meant to be in isolation. Take advantage of the technology available right now to video with one, or several, of your favorite people all at once. Set weekly meet-ups. Play games via apps where you can see each other. Check in with your loved ones, regularly. Together, we can get through this and to the other side. 

Commit yourself, fiercely, to being productive, helpful, and positive during this time. This is a choice. It is easier, and feels better, and bestows benefits on other people as well, when you emit positivity. Yes, this is a difficult situation. Yes, many people will die, and many people will go bankrupt and worse. I am not recommending burying your head in the sand and pretending we’re sliding down rainbows riding unicorns, right now. However, as a motivational professional, it’s essential that we stay determined to make the best of this situation and to help others when we can, and to work through our own negativities and adversities for the greater good. 

Keep appointments with your team of mental health professionals or consider establishing one. Therapists are riding the digital wave of offerings and are more affordable and accessible than ever. If you’re struggling, reach out to a professional who can help you de-stress and cope in healthy ways. 

Physical health

Find a structured program to suit your goals, equipment, and skill level. Online training has never been so affordable, accessible, and effective. The best trainers in the world right now are working overtime to produce lucrative, ass-kicking workouts with little to no equipment right now. Find a routine, sign up for it (don’t just vow to follow it, add an extra layer of accountability with an actual human being), bring some friends, and get to work.

Set reminders for nutrition, hydration, and supplements. It’s tragic how easy it is right now to forget the basics, and, unfortunately, nutrition and hydration are among the first to go. As mentioned above, try to stay as much on your regular schedule as possible. And, consider setting reminders on your phone, or downloading apps to do so, to ensure that you’re taking care of yourself physically. If you’re not putting enough fuel in the tank, there’s no way your machine will perform for you when the time comes. Prioritize your physical health to feel your best mentally, emotionally, and beyond. 

Embrace the new environment, skills, and challenges of your new routine. New = fun and exciting. Learn to conquer pushups, handstands, and pistol squats. Get creative with props around your house or consider starting to construct your own home gym. Attitude is everything, and the more you fight the changes right now, the harder things will be. 

It’s more important than ever to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. The sooner you can find your new normal, the more quickly you’ll adapt and the faster this time period will go — for you, your loved ones, and all of us. Adapt, adjust, and move forward.

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