Where are you on the rollercoaster of emotions right now? Isn’t it amazing that the answer to this question an hour ago or in 20 minutes from now could be different than the one you’d give right now? What has COVID done to us?
You used to be even keel, had your rhythm going, and felt content. But now, you go from crying in one moment to laughing out loud in the next. Or, from feeling overwhelmed one minute to seeing the bigger purpose in it all the next.
You are not alone. In a CDC survey done this summer, results show that overall, 40.9% of respondents reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition. This includes symptoms of anxiety or depression. Many admitted to either having started or increasing substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19.
Before you keep reading please know you can now watch Hanni share her thoughts on this topic on our YouTube Channel too or just keep reading…
Everyone is affected. I know so many effective tools to reduce and even eliminate stress and bring more JOY into my life. However, I wasn’t immune to the initial tsunami of emotional overwhelm either. You can read about that in my article “Finally I can cancel Netflix again”.
What I realized in those first four months of COVID is, knowing all the right tools is one thing, but applying them is another. It’s like having a car in your garage but complaining about the fact that your feet are hurting from you having to walk everywhere.
Are you interested in seeing the world in a more JOYful light again?
I encourage you to take one important step before you ditch the proverbial walking shoes and get into your car. First, determine your destination. Every initial coaching session between our clients and their JOYVIAL health coach starts with a vision exercise. The goal is to create an inspiring “North Star” that will motivate you even in challenging moments.
For example, if you’d like to feel more at peace, what exactly does that look like? Is it reading a book alone with a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon? Or, is peace finding a job with a boss that appreciates the value you bring to the table?
A clear vision of what you look like at your healthiest and best self should bring you goosebumps of excitement. It shouldn’t feel like a daunting goal that seems unattainable to reach.
In the last 10 years walking my own path to my healthiest, most JOYful and fulfilled life, I’ve come to understand that my mental wellbeing is tethered to three areas of focus. Each on its own has the power to propel you forward. Combined they have the potential to change the trajectory of your physical and mental wellbeing.
3 areas of focus to find peace and JOY:
1. Pay attention to what you ingest
The foods and liquids we consume have a significant impact on our mood. For example, sugar in all of its forms wreaks havoc on your brain chemistry. It depletes vitamin B which plays a crucial role in your mood, and can cause a rollercoaster of energy surges and slumps throughout your day. Alcohol and caffeine can be toxic for your adrenals. These glands are responsible for managing your stress hormones. Additionally, focusing on the quality of your food can have a significant impact on your mental well-being (e.g. eating wild caught fish rather than farm raised).
Don’t forget that you ingest more than just food and liquids. All day, every day your skin and airwaves ingest toxins from standard household products and the environment. Scented candles, plug-in incense, laundry detergent, body wash, shampoo, and your make-up are a short list of products that are most often filled with chemicals. These chemicals can either stop or alter signals in your brain impacting your mood.
In addition, they also often mess with a slew of other hormones in your body like the production of thyroids. This can lead to either anxiousness or fatigue and depression.
Cleaning up your diet and reducing the toxic load on your body can do wonders for your mind.
2. Apply powerful mind techniques
The list of tools and techniques that will help you reduce stress and experience more JOY is long. Finding what resonates with you is key. Here are the 4 practices I’ve found to be most powerful:
● Effective breathing: If you watch your breathing for a moment, you’ll most likely find that you only use your upper chest when you breathe. Now try this…on a count of 4 slowly inhale through your nose deeply into your belly then your chest and then your head. Hold your breath for a count of 4 and then slowly exhale through your nose on a count of 4 holding your breath out again before repeating this circle 3-4 times.
Ahhh…peace. You can do this anytime and anywhere, but especially when you feel uptight and overwhelmed.
● Gratitude Practice: There is a lot of buzz around practicing gratitude these days and rightfully so. Research shows that 90% of our thoughts are the same thoughts we had yesterday.
If you tend to think negative thoughts, the brain wiring used to bring these thoughts to your conscious mind are thick, Meaning it’s super easy for your brain to use those same pathways over and over again. This also means that thinking positive thoughts can be difficult for your brain if the wiring hasn’t been established or is flimsy.
Having a daily gratitude practice, one where you truly feel the emotion of gratitude, rewires your brain making it easier and easier to produce happy thoughts more often.
Experiencing Nature: Unless you spend your walks talking on the phone and worrying about how many calories you burn, being in nature will have a tremendous calming effect. But get this! Research shows that listening to just nature sounds has a similar powerful effect. Pop open YouTube, search for “nature sounds” and pick from a list of flowing rivers, chirping birds or crashing ocean waves.
Two hours a day have shown to reduce the stress hormones in your body by 800% and activate 500-600 DNA segments responsible for healing. I often do this at the start of my work day and let it soothe my soul in the background while being productive.
● Meditation: Meditation is probably the most important tool in my tool box. So much research has been done and the evidence is rock solid. Meditation reduces your symptoms of anxiety and depression. It helps you choose your perspective on any situation in life. Meditation gives you more compassion for yourself and others. It has also been shown to greatly reduce the stress hormones in your body. I could keep going but the point is meditation has a tremendous impact in my life and I know it can do the same for you.
You can find many more tools on the JOYVIAL YouTube channel.
3. Becoming aware and addressing subconscious beliefs
Do you believe that others (your spouse, your boss, your kids, etc.), your to-do list, or your circumstances cause you to feel stressed and unhappy? Well, it is not true. Think about it. If that was the case, then you believe the other person or outside circumstances are in charge of your emotions. You are putting yourself into a victim role by believing your external world is controlling your thoughts. Again, that is not the case. Anytime you have a negative emotion it’s because you are dealing with old subconscious programming. Say what?
Hear me out for a moment. Research has proven that we are all programmed in our first 6-7 years of life. By watching our parents or any other person of authority, we learn what is worth arguing about, worrying about, or getting sad about.
We learn the role of a woman by watching our mom. We learn how to engage with others. Our brain gets hardwired, literally!
Allow me to compare a newborn baby to a computer for a moment. A new born baby has the equivalent of an operating system – a heart, a brain, etc. But it has no programs, no beliefs, no values. Everything a child sees gets downloaded into their subconscious and is viewed as their reality. Nothing gets debated as true or false.
Now, research shows that in our adult life we react from that subconscious programming 95% of the time, not questioning our reaction to any given situation. We are on auto-pilot. Our current worry, anxiety, or sadness are based on the programming we received when we were kids!
Now what should you do? Your goals are to:
1) Realize that your thoughts are not your truth. It’s just a voice that keeps yapping away wanting to keep those subconscious programming alive. That means that you must…
2) Become aware of your thoughts every time you have a negative reaction (i.e. anger, sadness, etc.)
3) Determine what subconscious programming (i.e. beliefs) you hold about the situation
4) Question the belief – i.e. ask yourself ‘is this my truth?’ and ‘does this align with my values/the person who I want to be?’
5) Reprogram your mind so you can live from a place that is congruent to who you want to be (we do that in my workshops and keynote presentations)
This list may feel overwhelming but the key is to start with one or two things, to integrate them into your life before adding more. The JOYVIAL team of professional executive health coaches are experts in guiding you along your journey. They will help you determine the best path to move you towards your goals while keeping you energized every step of the way.
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