English comedian Ricky Gervais once said, “If you can laugh in the face of adversity, you are bulletproof.”
We are all facing adversity. With our nation standing front and center to one of the biggest economic, health, and cultural crises in history, not many people are laughing. We are all being challenged and forced to change our lifestyles from the bullets this pandemic has lodged at us. And, in one way or another, it feels like our very lives are hemorrhaging.
Every day another business closes due to the economic ruin this pandemic has left in its wake. Every day another story of personal tragedy makes the news from someone losing their loved one due to the coronavirus. Every day we see a picture of a high school senior or college graduate posing in their cap and gown and celebrating what would have been their highest achievement thus far. Every day another children’s camp cancels its summer session while another public school cancels its fall semester. And, every day the unemployment rate climbs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed Americans hit 23 million, which is an unemployment rate of 14.7 percent. Tradingeconomics.com also estimates the unemployment rate will be at 19 percent within 12 months.
How do we keep taking these bullets and keep going without completing losing our minds? To be bulletproof means being able to resist or absorb the impact of a bullet. It also means being safe from failure, without error or shortcomings, and free of criticism.
Our nation is not bulletproof from the shots coronavirus fired upon our economy. Not everyone has been able to repel its assault. In fact, this deadly disease executed many at point blank. And, clearly, no one’s job is bulletproof. What’s worse is that coronavirus is locked and loaded with plenty of bullets left.
How do you smile and laugh if you're experiencing so much pain, loss, and hardship?
The key to handling any emotional trigger caused by the pandemic or any other situation lies in emotion regulation. Emotion regulation helps you manage and control your emotional and mental states, thoughts, and behaviors, especially when facing adversity. A calm mind is both your best offense and your best defense. It is your most powerful weapon to fight life's battles and it can disarm the enemies within. Therefore, developing emotional regulation skills is a good strategy for handling this difficult time.
Self-regulation is an emotional regulation skill. If your response to a situation includes throwing a temper tantrum, outbursts of screaming or yelling, or acts of aggression or violence, you lack self-regulation. Your inability to control your emotions and actions will only lead to more problems in your life. But, if you can learn self-regulation skills, you will be better able to calmly think through your problems, adapt to change, create effective strategies for overcoming challenges, and develop the resilience to ride out any hardship.
Practicing aloha is a great way to develop your emotional regulation skills. Cultivating love, kindness, and compassion, or aloha, creates a safer space in your mind for positivity, peace, and harmony to exist. If your mind is relaxed, your body will follow. A big part of self-regulation is being able to stop yourself from overreacting. In other words, there is power in being able to think before you speak or take a deep breath before you react. You have to be able to pause before impulsively acting out. With more peace of mind, you will not feel the need to react as harshly out of stress, anxiety, depression, grief, or other negative emotions. While some reactions are natural, you will be more in control of choosing healthier responses over self-destructive ones. In other words, instead of going off the deep end with food or alcohol binges, you will have self-restraint for building better health habits.
Practicing aloha strengthens your mindset and boosts your “self-powers.” Self-esteem, self-belief, and self-confidence build courage. With courage and unwavering self-belief, you can continue to pursue your goals and dreams as well as tackle life’s challenges and changes. You will also learn to trust your gut instincts, decisions, and choices.
Therefore, a strong mindset can help you manage your feelings and your actions in any given situation. Your thoughts affect your feelings. Your feelings dictate how you respond to any situation. Your responses and reactions help determine the results and outcomes in your life.
To cultivate aloha and help regulate your emotions, practice self-care. A few of my favorite go-to tools for cultivating aloha and practicing self-care include breathwork, daily positive affirmations, exercising outdoors, guided meditation, and gratitude journaling.
Breathwork alters your breathing patterns to help you relax. Oxygen plays a vital role in the function of all organs, muscles, and glands in the body. We all need oxygen to breathe, but under stress, we can either breathe too fast or struggle altogether. I like to use this analogy: If you couldn’t breathe, your lips would turn blue. Being sad is synonymous with "feeling blue.” Other ways you may feel blue or feel less in control include anger, anxiety, depression, stress, and fear. Whenever you are feeling blue, consider deep breathing to get more oxygen into the body so it can function better, like think more clearly and act more calmly. Breathing deeply helps to reset your mindset so you can react to situations appropriately. You can begin your breathwork practice with a 3-4-5 breathing technique. To do so, inhale for three counts, hold for four counts, and then exhale for five counts. I suggest a minimum of three to five rounds to get you out of “code blue.”
If you are in a negative state of mind or have a bleak outlook on life due to the current state of affairs, consider using positive affirmations daily to strengthen your mindset and improve your mental well-being. By repeating an affirmation you create or find that empowers you, you are helping to reframe your mindset over time. By making strong, positive statements out loud, you create a headspace for feeling safe and more in control of your attitudes and actions. Feeling in control creates more positive actions. Use Google to discover positive affirmations for any goal or problem you might have, such as insomnia, anxiety, grief, fear, and worry or for building health, wealth, and success.
A stronger body builds a stronger mind. Everyone knows exercise helps to build strength and endurance in the body as well as manage weight, control insulin levels, and boost immunity. But, exercise also helps to clear the mind. Blood carries oxygen to all the muscles, organs, and glands in the body to help them function properly. Therefore, when you perform physical exercise, the oxygen that's pumped to the brain enables the mind to think more clearly, learn better, make better decisions, and act more calmly. Exercise also creates chemical reactions in the body, such as increased endorphin levels, the body’s feel-good hormones, that help boost mood.
Being in nature has health benefits as well. Fresh air helps boost relaxation, energy, focus, and creativity. Research also shows that aromatherapy can help you feel calmer and more relaxed. So, stop to smell the roses, the trees, your herb garden, and the ocean to reap health benefits. Therefore, combining exercise with the outdoors is a powerful self-care practice for managing stress and negative emotions during difficult times.
Guided meditation is a great tool for calming the mind and the body. Guided meditation is a self-care practice where an instructor leads you on a journey in your mind using breathwork and visualization techniques, and sometimes music. In a guided meditation session, the instructor paints a scenario for you to imagine while focusing on your breathwork. Your breath anchors you to the present moment. Therefore, there is less focus on the past or the future. By learning how to be in the moment and how to block out distractions, you develop self-awareness, mindfulness, and concentration. Over time, this practice can also help you develop tolerance, patience, and compassion. It can also help boost your creativity, imagination, and problem-solving skills. It has also been found to be an effective tool for managing health issues like stress, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. You can discover numerous guided meditation videos on YouTube that relate to your specific need or problem.
Expressing gratitude can help you manifest what you want in life. Being grateful for people, places, and things in your life demonstrates that you are open to receiving more of the same. Practicing gratitude can shift a negative mindset to a positive, peaceful, and happier one. When you are calmer, more peaceful, and thankful, your actions follow. You will be more willing to explore ways on how to invite more people, places, and things into your life that bring you joy, purpose, and passion. Write at least three things you are grateful for each day. Start your sentences with the phrase, “I am so happy and grateful for” and then end it with something you like, enjoy, and want to continue to manifest. Write your gratitude in the present tense. Also, the more detail you include, the better your results will be.
You can also express gratitude for the things you haven’t yet received or experienced, but continue to write in the present tense. Imagine how grateful you would be to get the things you truly desire. Be specific. The secret to getting what you want in life is knowing and expressing exactly what you want in life. Therefore, expressing gratitude invites more of what you want when you define it with every detail you see in your mind. I recommend handwriting your gratitudes instead of typing them so that you feel more connected to the words and the outcomes. Feeling connected is the key to balancing your mind, body, and spirit.
Practicing aloha helps you lean into any life-changing event with more grace, gratitude, peace, and positivity. Instead of being swallowed whole by this experience, you will find ways to enjoy your life. You will be able to live in the moment and be reassured that this, too, shall pass. Your life might take some hits, but you can trust that you will not only survive but also be able to create long-term goals for success.
Keep going, my Pineapple. Do not let this pandemic steal your joy. Look for the silver linings in the clouds above. Look for a reason to smile and laugh every day. And, if you can’t find a reason, create one.
Live, Love, and Lead with Aloha.