Master your Mindset
Tough times don’t last, tough people do.
Today’s health, economic and social issues are taking an emotional toll on people across the country. In fact, according to a recent study that assessed the mental health of working Americans, anxiety levels are up 47% from February to May alone. As a result, it’s more important than ever that people take an active role in managing their mental health. At Vitality we call it mastering your mindset, and here are tips and tools that will help get us through these difficult times.
Re-think your outlook
First, re-think your outlook and openly accept change with grace. This may seem like a tall order, but when you truly grieve what used to be and accept that our world is different, you can begin to have a fresh outlook. The grieving process may be a process with ups and downs as our situation is continuously changing. Accept that change is inevitable, and times are uncertain. Think of this uncertain time as an opportunity.
Some have found this “pause” to be just what they needed – you may find that too. This can be a time to reflect and find your purpose, or you may find it’s a time to re-connect with those who are close to you. It may be a time to slow down and actively listen and give quality time to your loved ones and dedicate time to projects you’ve been putting off.
Others have found this time is their calling, they feel the need to help others in need and are considering this as an opportunity to dig in deep and tap into their strengths and care for others. This may be you too. When you use this time for self-exploration, you’ll find it easier to face the uncertainties.
Live in the now
Next, live in the now and remind yourself of your convictions. Focus your thoughts and energy on what you can control – not on the past or the future. When you start to ruminate on the past, worry about the future or about things you cannot control, you’ll find yourself feeling stressed, anxious and eventually unraveled. Remember, you can control who you are, your attitude and your own behaviors. You can control the kindness and grace you show others. You can control your news intake, sticking to a daily routine, and following local ordinances. Focus on those things. Let go of the things you cannot control like others’ actions, the food and toilet paper available, how long this will last, and trying to predict the future.
Finally, take action. When you act, your emotions and mindset will follow. Proactively connect with others, be physically active and engage in mental fitness practices.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. Go out and get busy.” -Dale Carnegie
Connecting with others can help you process the current situation – it doesn’t matter if it’s a stranger, your neighbor, best friend or family member – connecting regularly is what matters when it comes to staving off isolation and mastering your mindset. When you do connect, stay within the CDC guidelines to avoid close contact (stay at least six feet away from others, and wear a cloth face cover) with people outside of your home. Also, when you build a strong social network of friends and family, your resilience to stress is strengthened and your ability to deal with stressful situations and anxiety is enhanced. Having strong connections with a few people is all you need. Try these creative ways to stay connected.
Physical activity is also very important in maintaining your mental fitness and keeping your head in the game. Being active produces happy hormones, boosts your mood, reduces feelings of anxiety and depression, and promotes overall mental wellness. Aim for 150 minutes or more of moderate to intense physical activity every week.
Other activities that can help exercise your mind and promote a sense of calmness include engaging in a creative endeavor or a hobby, immersing yourself in nature, and participating in mindfulness or meditation. The possibilities are endless.
They say that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Take the leap and get started today, as it’s that first step that can be the toughest.
Tonja Dodd, MPH, is a Senior Health Strategy Analyst at Vitality Group where she translates clinical guidelines into risk appropriate health promotion strategies to engage members in healthy behaviors. Her background is in public health with 25 years of experience designing, developing and delivering health and wellness programs and products. Tonja finds her healthy place is being active outdoors and spending time with family, friends and pets.