Less News, Better language, More growth
How to combat Covid 19 Fear, Stress & Anxiety
As personal trainers, we are so often informing everybody how to stay fit and healthy physically but feel now more than ever is an incredible opportunity to work on our emotional and mental strength.
Because what’s a banging body if your mind is a hotbed of negativity?
Classes, personal training sessions and gyms have migrated online, so your physical fitness is covered.
We want to dive deeper and nourish your mental and emotional health. Read on to explore why we feel how we do and navigate ways in which we can work through this chapter in our lives from a place of creativity, growth and connection.
TIP: If you take just one nugget away from this blog, we urge you to implement it immediately! Positive change starts with action and you deserve to feel good.
Let’s start off by acknowledging that our brains are programmed to keep us alive, not happy. We have to train our brain to make us happy (particularly during challenging times) and defy our factory settings of survival mode.
How Your Brain is Triggering You
– The Negativity Bias
Dating back to…the start of humankind our brains have been hardwired to hone in on the negative. This used to be so we didn’t get eaten by lions.
Today, we won’t get eaten by lions on our weekly Aldi trips but the negativity bias in our brains is still larger than life.
For example, in your intimate relationship, for every 1 thing your spouse says or does that hurts you, your brain requires 5 subsequent positive acts of love, kindness or affection before it can move on. The brain doesn’t make exceptions just because you love the guy/woman!
If we apply this to watching the news at the moment, we may see why we could be inclined to feel pretty crap. If all of the media we consume is negative, how can we possibly gift ourselves with the virtue of hope when we need it most?
The Law of Certainty
Even the most rebellious free spirits amongst us have a need for certainty. Certainty provides comfort, helps us feel secure and helps us avoid pain.
As humans, we have an immense capacity for sacrifice and suffering… when it comes with an expiry date (certainty).
Corona Virus is quite literally the antithesis of certainty. As a planet, we have never dealt with it before. Our current “working from home” status has no end date. We don’t know when we will see our loved ones again. We aren’t sure the impact of this moment in time on the economy long term.
Can you see, how this onslaught of uncertainty goes against the grain of one of our basic needs?
Now we have touched on the very primal ways in which we are wired toward pain in very basic terms, let’s focus on how we can feel better.
Goal: Emerge from This time @ home primed for growth, closer relationships and a sunny side take on life
Action Step 1: Apply the 5:1 Rule to your (reduced) daily news consumption
If you want to alleviate a lot of anxiety immediately in an uber piece of cake fashion, slash the amount of time you spend watching the news per day by 50 per cent (at least).
Before you eye roll and rebuke us for encouraging ignorance, consider this…
There’s a saying in the media “If it bleeds
It leads”, i.e. if the news is sensationalist negativity and fear-mongering, people can’t help but watch.
What benefit is your brain going to reap from feasting on fear-based media at a time like this? None. Absolutely ZERO, unless you enjoy feeling worried.
We must add a disclaimer here before you read on: We are in no way saying you should ignore the pain and suffering of others during these tumultuous times. Nor lack the compassion to acknowledge what is going on in the World. We also want you to remain informed. But all this can be done in 20 minutes per day as opposed to playing BBC news 247 whilst you potter at home.
Like your body, your mind is a by-product of what you feed it. Once you have successfully reduced the time you spend poring over the news, we want you to give yourself a happy boost and apply the 5:1 rule:
For the next week, for every 30 mins of News you watch, fill your time with 5 positive things to counteract any potential negativity your brain has absorbed.
5 positive things can be anything from:
Video calling a friend (preferably a funny one)
Reading a book you enjoy
Cooking something nice
Watching cute dog videos
Watching a funny film
Having a bath
IN A NUTSHELL: You can feel radically better by shifting your focus from the News to doing things you like X 5. Not so tough.
Action Step 2: Diminishing the power of your resident Neg-head
For those who don’t know, a neg-head is a person you have in your life (by choice or force) who sees the pitfalls in a plan, the half-empty glass, the bad in others.
These people have their uses at times, they can spur us on to do better in an “up yours” kinda angry way. They can be a sobering “voice of reason” for the dreamers amongst us. They might not come from a bad place and often describe themselves as “realists”.
Emotional Contagion is a real thing. If you are safe at home with a well-meaning pessimist or have friends who are glass half empty people,
We beg of you don’t let that crap in!
If you live with the person or have to deal with them on a regular basis: set boundaries! You need at least 1-hour morning and night, in a different room of the house doing positive stuff, absorbing positive podcasts/music and generally living your best life!
Energy is so contagious and we can’t stress this enough, carve out space for yourself and bask in it, daily.
If you do associate with a pessimist regularly, this is great news! What an immense lesson in focussing on your own circle of influence (yourself) and not letting other people’s crap muck up your vibe!
IN A NUTSHELL: Limit your attention of the less positive friends in your life. Living with a Neg-head? Support them, but remember you don’t need to think their thoughts. Carve out space for yourself and focus on the only thing you can control: Yourself.
Action Step 3: Pick Uplifting words ONLY
This may sound woo-woo at first glance but stick with us.
How you describe a situation and the words you use; all shape your experience.
Read that again, it’s important.
If you are currently using some of the following words/phrases:
I feel like I’m in prison
It’s like the apocalypse
The kids are driving me crazy
I’m sick to death of this
You are instructing your brain to look for reasons to be unhappy, panicky and pissed off.
You see the brain has a nifty piece of kit called the Reticular Activating System, which basically shifts through the data your brain is exposed to and picks the ones you’ve trained it to look out for.
If you class being at home as tantamount to torture, your experience of it will be just that.
Your brain will align with information that screams torture and negativity!
The very simple solution to this is fuelling your RAS with better feeling words, to create better pictures and experiences:
I’m lucky to be safe at home
I can fill this spare time with finally launching that passion project/taking that course/ learning new things
I’m so lucky to be at home safe and well with my happy, energetic kids
I’m going to make the absolute most of this experience
I love how everyone is pulling together right now
IN A NUTSHELL: Your words and thoughts become your reality! Train your RAS to look for better feeling data. The next 5 times You catch yourself pre whinge, replace it with a better feeling sentence and see what happens!
Action Step 4: Daily Connection & kindness
As humans we thrive off connection – we all want to feel seen, heard and valued. As the most social species on the planet, staying home can be challenging (especially if you live alone)
We are truly blessed that we live in an age where connection is literally at your fingertips on your social media and smartphone. No, you can’t be affectionate through your phone screen but you can keep your connections alive at the push of a button.
Aim to interact with at least one person per day by video call. Studies have shown seeing a loved one’s face lights up parts of our brain associated with happiness and can even release feel-good hormones too. When feeling in a mental slump, it can be easy to further isolate yourself and this isn’t helpful!
Making the effort once a day to reach out to your mum/sister/friend and have a laugh via video call is a win-win. We all need support, banter and connection right now.
The other element of connection is kindness- as humans, we feel great giving kindness to others, it’s fulfilling as hell!
For example, have you ever planned a cute surprise for a loved one’s birthday and felt so happy to see their eyes light up? We’ve all been there.
Why not use lockdown as an opportunity to show little kindnesses to other people?
Leave food at an elderly neighbours’ door
Check-in on your loved ones
Send something funny to that friend who needs a boost
Send a nice text
IN A NUTSHELL: Simple acts of kindness go a long way for both parties. Sack the stockpiling of loo paper off, abandon mission insta selfie and do something nice daily. You’ll get way more from it.
Action 5: Growth
If you follow even a couple of the steps In this
Blog, you’ll experience some form of mental/emotional growth.
Remaining positive and acting from a place of love through the growing pains that come with testing times is in its essence Growth.
What other ways do you want to grow? Write them down, it can be anything you like:
What goals do you want to accomplish that you can work on whilst we have free time?
Are there qualities you want to work on in yourself?
Do you want to learn new skills?
Enrol on that course?
Launch a business?
Write a book?
Hit a jogging PB?
Learn to cook?
Work on your relationships?
Don’t think too much when you brainstorm.
Just write with authenticity, whatever comes out on the page!
Often, we go to write goals, then ruin them with “logic” and self-doubt.
In A Nutshell: Once you’ve decided on your goals, pick one and get to work on it daily for a set amount of time. We have a lot of spare time just now so we might as well smash life!
We hope you’ve taken away a little ray of sunshine or golden nugget from this blog post.
We aren’t just passionate about fitness, we adore the human mind&heart too and believe every person deserves an abundant, happy life filled with love, health and happiness!