By now, this quarantine lifestyle has probably had some kind of impact on your health. Financial strain, pressure to work from home and the restrictions on where you can go, what you can do, or even who you can be around can have a combined negative effect on your health. It can just differ from person to person.
Increased stress levels and worries about the future can encourage negative behavior, like binge-eating to go with our Netflix binge-watching. They can also invite physical ailments, like abdominal pain and headaches. Therefore, chronic elevated stress levels can take a toll on our health, resulting in conditions like anxiety, depression, weight gain, insomnia and high blood pressure.
Just yesterday, a friend confided that she went to the doctor with chest pains, fearing she was having a heart attack. Instead, she was sent home with anxiety medication. A single mother of a teenage daughter, she admitted that working from home was taking its toll. But this health event scared her so much that she decided she never wants to experience an episode like that again. So, now she is taking steps to slow down, relax and handle stress better to improve her health. If she doesn’t, she realizes she is only putting herself and her daughter in danger and creating more stress on her, too.
While these times may affect us all differently, we can all choose to take better care of our health based on our individual circumstances. If we are not making the choice to take steps toward better health, we are making excuses to run away from it. In light of the health crisis our country is facing, can we really afford to run away from this responsibility?
Now is the perfect time to serve our mind, body and spirit with more love, kindness, compassion and respect. While some choices we have made in response to this pandemic are understandable - overeating, eating unhealthy foods, remaining sedentary, smoking, drinking alcohol, staying up late - we simply cannot sustain living this way without negative consequences. Therefore, being more loving, kind and compassionate means making choices that support our health goals.
When we talk about health, we cannot merely focus on physical health. That is only one part of the puzzle. Optimal health includes mental, emotional and spiritual well-being as well. Because each aspect of our health affects the other, strategies for achieving better health go beyond diet, sleep and exercise. They also include how we think. After all, our actions are based on what we tell ourselves and what we choose to believe. For example, if you think you won’t be able to keep your job and believe you will lose your house, that fear may trigger staying up late and drinking your worries away, which, over time, can create a much bigger problem.
Anything you can do to improve your mindset can improve your overall health. A positive mindset will not only support your health goals, but also prepare you for achieving them. This is better motivation for taking better care of your body than a health scare. There are several approaches you can take. Here are my top three:
Practice breathwork. Breathwork involves manipulating your breathing patterns to help you relax or give you more energy. 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 with breathing, depending on pre-existing conditions like asthma. Just like gas is to a car, oxygen is to the body. Without it, we won’t go far. I like to use this analogy: If you couldn’t breathe, your lips would turn blue. Being sad is synonymous for "feeling blue.” There are other ways to feel blue, or feel less in control, such as anger, anxiety, depression, stress or fear. Whenever you are feeling blue, consider deep breathing to get more oxygen to 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 take more appropriate actions to improve your health. I like to start people off with a 3-4-5 breathing technique, where you 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.”
Practice positive self-talk. If we are prone to make poor decisions that negatively affect our health when we are too weak to resist temptations, then we need to strengthen our mindset in order to make better ones. By repeating Your Daily Aloha affirmations or any affirmation you create or find that empowers you, you are helping to reframe your mindset. By making strong, positive statements out loud, you are creating a better headspace where you feel safe and more in control of your attitudes and actions. This helps to create more positive actions. Use Google to explore positive affirmations for a particular health goal or problem you have, such as insomnia, anxiety, grief, fear, worry, exercising or eating.
Practice gratitude. Expressing gratitude for things you have in your life now helps manifest more abundance in the future. Being grateful for everyone and everything in your life demonstrates that you are open to receiving more of the same. Practicing gratitude can shift your mindset by creating a more peaceful, positive and happier headspace. When you are calmer, more peaceful and more thankful, your actions follow. You are more willing to explore ways to bring more people, places and things that bring you joy, purpose and passion into your life. Consider saying or writing at least three things you are grateful for daily. Start your sentences with, “I am so happy and grateful for” and then add anything that is currently in your life that you like, enjoy and want to manifest. Write your gratitudes in the present tense. Also, the more details you include, the better! You can also express gratitude for the things that 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 exactly what you want in life and expressing it. 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.
By treating your mind, body and spirit with more love, kindness, compassion and respect, your health will better respond to the challenges you’re facing now and the challenges yet to come. Think of these exercises as a blueprint for the dream house you are building; only the dream house is your own temple - your body.
So, set a strong foundation now, my Pineapple, by mastering these three tools so that your house can better withstand the storms.
Live, Love and Lead with Aloha.