And What To Do About It
Here I was minding my own business and procrastinating as usual when we got hit with the COVID-19 pandemic. Worry, confusion, isolation and a nagging brain fog have set in at various stages and sometimes all at once, fighting for centre stage. Thank goodness I’ve figured out a way to still keep busy — and yet, because everything is new and constantly changing, I’m still trying to figure out how to balance family time, virtual school and work — like most people these days. And like many, I had anxiety even before the pandemic so taking my own coaching advice has been essential:
1) Exercise — my number one outlet because it releases endorphins which boost happiness and keep anxiety at bay. It also helps us sleep better and clears away head fog by stimulating the brain to promote clear thought. Best of all, by working out consistently, both body and mind learn how to recover and adapt to stress situations — including those of everyday life. Just be careful of overtraining or training when you’re feeling overly tired since you could compromise your immune system or injure yourself — which leads me to…
2) Sleep. Lack of sleep can make us overly emotional and anxious by causing a rise in cortisol levels. This in turn, can interfere with muscle tissue repair and a depletion in human growth hormone (HGH) which helps the body produce protein and use fat properly. Another hormone affected is Ghrelin which tells us we’re hungry and want to snack. The result? A poor night’s sleep can increase fat storage, make it harder to lose weight and turn you into an emotional ball of anxiety.
3) Take time for yourself — whether it’s a workout, a warm bath, a walk, quiet time… set aside some time every day where you can focus on your well-being. Tune in to yourself and ask yourself how you’re feeling. Maybe write down your emotions in a journal, visualize yourself achieving your wellness goals or recite affirmations, things you want for yourself. The more you tell yourself something, the more you start to believe and manifest it.
4) Eat for Energy & Mood. A healthy diet is one that enables you to maintain a healthy weight, meets your nutritional requirements and you like it. To maximize energy and enhance your mood, it’s important to stabilize your blood sugar by eating a combination of protein, carbs and fat from whole food sources. Including fiber-rich foods and drinking enough water will help attenuate rising blood sugar as well as make you feel fuller, longer.
5) Learn to adapt. Feeling like you have no control in your life compounded with change can be terrifying. It helps to remind yourself of the things you DO have control over — like your bedtime, what food you put into your body, your workouts, choices you make on a daily basis. Then you can start teaching yourself new habits by rewiring the brain and filling it with new ideas. The key here is to focus on 1–2 changes at a time — because creating any new habit takes consistency and patience.
The good news is that by changing your physiology, you change your psychology — that good old mind-body connection. Getting enough exercise and sleep, eating well, and taking time to recharge mentally will give you more energy, more confidence and more self-respect. Making these changes gradually will ensure you stick with them, long-term and when things start to get too overwhelming, make a list or write ideas down to help yourself process and clarify. Try to do things on your to-do list sooner than later so it gives you less to worry about. Staying active will get the blood flowing to the brain and help with focus and most importantly, believing in yourself will help mitigate stress and increase your confidence to make any necessary changes. You’ve got this, you just have to believe it.