Recently, with all of the changes that everyone — not just some of us — is experiencing, people are struggling to adapt to their new way of life.
Wherever you turn, there are commercials, videos, images, posts, tweets, and other messaging which can trigger a very physiological and emotional response, or as we often call it, stress. These changes and uncertainty can have a very adverse impact on our health and affect us profoundly.
While there are no set rules for everyone on how to manage our stress, there are very specific, and very quick ways to insulate yourself and even to build resilience. Positive psychologists have been studying this for years. Here are some resiliency tips which you may have seen in the past, and are likely even more important now:
Connect with others. Find ways to maintain or deepen your relationships. Whether it is a video conference like Zoom Positive psychologists, an email, text or a handwritten letter, people are stronger together.
Calm yourself. Try to find just a few minutes to meditate and slow down your breathing and clear your thoughts.
Exercise. While great for your physical health, exercise also releases chemicals which make you happier.
Gratitude. Focus on what is right in your life and what you are thankful for. Maybe even write a note to someone who has been powerful in your life.
Sleep. Remember all of the tricks you have seen or heard to make sure you are getting adequate sleep? Give those a try.
At the YMCA, here are a few things that Y leaders have been doing to stay strong in spirit, mind and body:
Shane Riffle, CEO, feels the change in the volume of meetings. He said, “It seems like with video conferencing technology taking root, the pace of meetings and the associated ‘requests’ has grown exponentially.”
After the mandated closures occurred, he began working (mostly) remotely. During this time, he was able to recognize that there was inherent flexibility with being at the home office. He built in time daily to go on family hikes on our local trails, get in a daily run, and what he says was one of the best times of the day: preparing dinner together as a family and sitting around the dining room table.
This took a conscious effort and constant focus to make sure that these times were ‘protected’ and that he was present with his family. There were often set-backs, but mostly, these parts of the day have helped Shane cope with the changes and build new ways to thrive during this upheaval.
Joanna Collins, health and wellness director, felt the impact of the Y having to close it’s doors. Having been furloughed from work during April and early May, Joanna shifted her focus toward the needs of her family, particularly distance learning for her two children. Reflecting back over the last two months, she spent one full day watching movies from when she grew up. One was “Grease,” which is her all-time favorite, and the other was a blast from the past called “Xanadu.”
She says that she is setting aside time every day with her husband to take walks and also to focus on the many little projects that she never had time for in the past. In true Joanna style, she maintains her positive outlook, sharing “Despite everything, life is good!”
Katie DeBlock, Group Fitness coordinator, is a self-admitted extrovert who needed to find ways to maintain social connections. For her, being connected with friends and family has been huge. Whether discussing distance learning or maintaining contact with ‘gym friends,’ keeping in touch has helped her feel like they are still together, just not physically. Camaraderie has really helped her to find support from those who lift each other up instead of complaining about what is wrong.
She also says that “It has also been nice to slow it down. I am now going on walks with family and just looking at nature.” She is taking every moment to be outside, whether on that walk or mountain biking at Cuyuna Lakes trails.
Regardless of where you have been, now is a chance to take either your first step, or even your next step toward wellness. To help our community stay strong in spirit, mind, and body, the Brainerd Family YMCA is developing a new wellness challenge. The challenge will help you to start taking small steps by building healthy habits and using simple tools to measure and monitor your progress. Watch for details on the YMCA Facebook page.
Good health and wellness is not just about fitness. It’s a key to building resiliency in yourself and in our community, strengthening all of us in spirit, mind and body.