By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
In times of crisis, it can be difficult to stay in control of your thoughts and feelings. Right now there are a lot of unknowns, and people are scared.
It’s helpful to remember that everything is temporary, and this too shall pass. We may not know when it will end, but we will get through this.
Times like these are part of why I train hard. Being fit in body and mind strengthens me, makes me happy, and it also prepares me to cope with hardship and be more useful to the people I love. I want to make the most of the times like these and be as helpful as I can.
When there are so many unknowns and most of them are dangerous, it’s hard to know where to put your focus. Join me today as I explore the things we can do to stay in control of our lives and triumph over adversity.
Exercising your mind and powers of self-control are every bit as important as exercising your body. Mental and physical exercises reinforce each other, and the stronger you are in one area, the easier the other becomes.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, teaches that changing how you think can change how you behave. During the COVID-19 pandemic, how we think can make a big difference in how we feel and how we behave.
There are many things in life that you cannot control, and fixating on them can make you feel powerless. On the other hand, when you focus on things you can control, it lifts your mood and makes you feel powerful.
CBT teaches that you should organize your world into things you can control and things you can not control. It is important to be aware of all of them. Ignorance doesn’t help you. But once you are informed, engage in useful activity and it will lighten your load and make you more effective.
In one survey of people enduring the lockdown, almost half said they were better people than they were when it started. You can use this time to make yourself a better, happier person.
Taking the time to write down your thoughts and get them out of your head can be another source of relief. Journaling for mental health not only relieves mental stress, but it also helps you organize your thoughts and declutter your mind. Just like it’s important to keep your house clean, it is important to keep your mind clean. Using my favorite mindfulness app brings me peace. When you first start meditating it can be hard to do every day, especially when we are coping with a dangerous disease. The benefits of meditation are powerful, and in some cases instantaneous. I’ve been surprised to see how much my mood can improve after just a few minutes of mindfulness. There are also supplements that can help. I like how Onnit New Mood and Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil make me feel, and I believe they make meditation and journaling easier.
Let’s talk about the things we can and cannot control during the time of Coronavirus. If you have a list of things you can control when you are confronted by things you cannot control you can use this list as an antidote.
It seems to me that the news programming likes to fixate on the negative and make things look as bad as possible for as long as they can. This may help their ratings, but it doesn’t help my mental state. We shouldn’t ignore the news or the latest coronavirus update, as we could miss vital information, but we need to counteract the negative effects of media overload. That’s why I exercise while I’m watching the news. The physical activity reminds me that there are things I can do to improve my life and make the world a better place, and it limits my news consumption to when I’m exercising. It also keeps me from worrying about what the government will announce next.
Even though it’s been disrupted, you can also control your daily routine. Some changes have to be accommodated, but consistency feels good, so create a new daily routine and stick to it. You will find it easier to pay attention and focus on what’s most important.
Because most of us are spending more time inside, it’s a great opportunity to declutter your home. Cleaning can be a time for self-reflection, and sometimes solutions to difficult problems just pop into my mind while I am at it. That’s why I like to start with my workstation at home. Using these helpful organized office desk ideas in my routine has made it easier for me to stay organized. The cleaner my living and workspace become, the easier it is for me to pay attention to the things I can control.
I’d like to take a moment and talk about a sensitive topic. I’ve noticed that many people are hard on themselves when they don’t live up to their own expectations. Maybe you berate yourself with harsh words or you call yourself names. This behavior is unhealthy.
When you catch yourself underperforming in some task, treat yourself as if you are worthy of kindness and respect, even when you fail. Look at the whole picture, find the good and the bad, and be honest about both of them. Give yourself honest praise for what you did well, and especially praise yourself for putting in the effort. Practice makes perfect, and nothing worth doing is easy.
Everyone fails sometimes, and learning how to forgive yourself makes it easier to forgive others. Some people fall for fake news generators that have made the crisis worse than it needs to be. When people in large groups consume bad news, real and fake, it can create a herd mentality that is hard to fight. This is especially painful for me because people I know and love can sometimes get caught up with the crowd. Some of them even participated in the panic-buying of groceries and essential goods, making life harder for everyone else.
Instead of scolding or fighting with my friends, I came up with a do-it-yourself hand sanitizer. I also took advantage of the mental health benefits of nature. Fighting with people usually just makes things worse, and rational thinking is hard when I’m experiencing powerful emotions.
Be kind to yourself, and practice forgiveness of yourself and others. Ego is a powerful force, and when your ego gets out of control it can be a real liability.
One of my goals for the new year was to be more aware of how my actions impact others. I had no idea how important that idea would become!
What is your favorite strategy for staying in control? How can you make things a little bit better? Join me, and we can make each day a little easier and a little happier. Together.