Worry during uncertainty is an ordinary part of the human experience. It is part of our primal survival instinct, our tendency to be on guard for danger and scan for any trouble that might be lurking in the shadows. It is also part of our loving and caring instincts, our wish to protect life and those we love. In the time of our cave sisters and brothers, this served us well to be on guard for dangerous animals that may attack, but unfortunately, our primal brain doesn’t always serve us well in modern day. Our tendency to worry now, is usually linked to our external experiences, like finances, job security, physical health and well-being, etc.
Worry is thoughts, feelings, and actions of a negative nature playing on a repetitive loop, in an uncontrollable manner, that lead to undesirable results.
As we are living through a global time of uncertainty, it’s of upmost importance to monitor our primal brain and not allow it to run the show in worry. As I’ve taught in the Model, we are not in control of the facts/ circumstances, but we are in control of our thoughts and feelings about them.
It is more important than ever to take power over your thoughts and focus on your overall health. Here are 10 worry-free ways to positively contribute to your well-being, boost your mood, handle your emotions better, and build resilience during this time of uncertainty.
- Use the Model to Work on Your Thoughts:
Remember, the circumstances or facts of your life are what they are. They’re neutral—neither good nor bad.It’s your thoughts that create your feelings. Your feelings drive your actions, and your actions create your results. By using the Model, you can change the way you feel by changing the way you think. Practice bridging your thoughts between the negative thought and the positive thought until the mental habit becomes a belief. The way to do this is by moving closer to the positive thought, even if it’s just a little at a time. Read more about feeling better with the Model here. (Link blog #1)
- Create Meaningful Connection:
As humans, we need to feel connected with someone or something, so this is especially important during this time of “social distancing.” Connection often comes from love and affection. We seek connection with our family, friends or significant others; but connection can also come from ideals and values. Generosity and kindness are cornerstones of this human need. It’s also what creates community and social ties. Take this time we are being forced to slow down to reconnect with your immediate family. Break out the board games, enjoy reading a book together as a family, or spend time outdoors together if possible. Use technology to FaceTime friends and extended family or stay connected through an online community.
- Contribute to a Cause:
Giving to others often provides incredible internal fulfillment. Consider contributing financially or with your time and gifts to a cause that is close to your heart. We are in this time of uncertainty all together. Thinking beyond ourselves, in kindness and consideration can inspire us to create and share joy.
- Share a Smile:
As simple as it seems, a smile goes a long way. There’s scientific evidence that smiling can help the body and mind recover from stress and smiling can jumpstart positive thoughts of happiness in both yourself and someone else! According to Dr. Jeff Brown, MD of Harvard University, “When you smile, you trigger a psychological and neurobiological alignment with positive emotions, and that can lead to healthier living.”
- Fuel Your Body with Nutritious Food:
An unhealthy diet can take a toll on your brain and mood, disrupt your sleep, sap your energy, and weaken your immune system. Your body needs nutrients from whole foods and wholesome, well-balanced meals. I recommend a balanced meal that is 50 percent veggies, 25 percent lean protein, and 25 percent whole grains (bonus if you can sneak in some healthy fats, like avocado or olive oil). If you’re finding it hard to get in those necessary daily vitamins and minerals from meals, try The Linda Drink! (Link recipe?)
- Use Your Commute a Time to Manage Your Mindset:
Make your miles count! A commute longer than 22 minutes each way may have a negative impact on your well-being, according to a study in The Scandinavian Journal of Economics. But there are ways you can mitigate those adverse effects without moving. Sharpen your mindset tools by listening to an uplifting podcast or audiobook or use this time to relax and work on your breathing techniques. If you’re riding the train, bring along your favorite personal growth book or your journal. Link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/25195346?seq=1
- Get Some Fresh Air:
Spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits. Studies have found that being outside in nature can improve cognitive function, improve immune function, and decrease concentrations of adrenaline and cortisol for as long as a week. I do my part to be out in nature as often as possible, multiple times a day. My favorite place to spend time is near the ocean. It’s always a fantastic idea to me!
- Stay Active:
I make it part of my daily routine to take my two dogs for at least one walk (usually more), every single day. The mind and the body are intrinsically linked. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well-being. Physical activity also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that lift your mood and provide added energy! For me, my daily walks out in nature (usually near the ocean) are more than just a physical practice. It’s soul-food!
- Make Time for Contemplation and Appreciation:
Think about the things you’re grateful for. Mediate, pray, enjoy the sunset, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.
- Make Sleep a Priority:
When it comes to your health, getting enough sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Skipping even a few hours here and there can take a toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress. And over the long-term, chronic sleep loss can wreak havoc on your health and mindset. Be sure to give your brain time to unwind at the end of the day by taking a break from the stimulation of screens—TV, phone, tablet, computer—in the two hours before bedtime, putting aside work, and postponing arguments, worrying, or brainstorming until the next day.