We understand if you’re a little spooked right now. With the novel coronavirus taking a foothold in our everyday life, it’s normal to begin to feel anxious, complacent, and scared. But we’re also Spartans, which means we’re masters at being resilient and tough, staying calm, and remaining upbeat.
While it’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us, it’s important to remember that sometimes things are out of your control. So, you have to control yourself.
To help ease your mind and keep you busy, we reached out to a handful of some of the world’s top experts in psychology, leadership, health, and wellness to provide tips on how to manage the current climate — mentally and physically.
Dr. Paul Kilgore is an expert on infectious diseases and the owner of quantitative-health.com.
Johnny Waite is a philosopher, hypnotherapist, and a former guest on the Spartan Up Podcast.
Anthony Trucks is a former NFL athlete, an American Ninja Warrior competitor, a gym owner, and the founder of Identity Shift.
Mike Bledsoe is the CEO of Strong Coach, a program for personal and professional development for coaches.
Dr. Laura Pence, aka the Spartan Mind Doc, is a licensed clinical psychologist and the host of the podcast Spartan Mind.
7 Tips for Staying Calm in Times of High Stress
Tip #1: Keep Training
Don’t let the epidemic throw you off of your training. “Unless you’re sick, staying on your program will prevent you from backsliding,” Kilgore says. “It’ll also help you reduce mental stress and help strengthen your immune system, and this can even help protect those around us, like our parents and grandparents.
Tip #2: Get More Rest
“Getting enough rest is key,” says Kilgore. “It’ll help you recover from hard training and keep your immune system strong, and you’re going to need that to fight off infections, including coronavirus and other ones.”
“Way too many people, I find, don’t focus on their sleep enough,” Trucks adds. “For me, it’s just as important to set an alarm to let me know when to go to bed as well as when to wake up.”
Tip #3: Be Clean, Please
Another key, says Kilgore, is to practice the easy stuff: “Wash your hands regularly, use hand sanitizer, don’t shake hands with anyone, and cover your mouth — every time — whenever you cough or sneeze,” he says. “This goes for at home, at work, and at the gym.”
Tip #4: Grow, Don’t Shrink
Waite believes that this is a great time to try things you may have been putting off. “If you can’t go to the gym, what you can do is finally learn how to do bodyweight workouts,” he says. “Or, you can’t go to restaurants? Now’s the perfect time to cook and put healthy food in your body and save some money. You probably shouldn’t sit in a stadium or bar, either, so it’s a great time to sit in a room with family and play a game or watch a movie.
“Those people who you say are the most important people in your life, get to know them, spend time with them. Learn that skill, read that novel, fix that leaky faucet. Grow instead of shrinking, and, most importantly, don’t spend any time wishing things were different. The situation is what it is and will be what it will be.”
Tip #5: Manage Your Mind
“The number one threat to your immune system is stress,” Bledsoe says. “Stress comes in many forms — physical, mental, and emotional stress, to name a few. They all manifest physically, but managing them is non-physical.”
For this, Bledsoe likes to use the body-mind story cycle. Here are the steps:
- Notice whenever you’re breathing shallowly into your chest, not your belly. Take a few minutes to close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly into your belly, as if you’re filling up your entire body.
- Once you’ve gained control of your breathing, ask yourself what was on your mind. “For beginners, a journal comes in handy here,” Bledsoe says.
- “Now that you’ve identified the stressor,” Bledsoe says, “ask yourself, ‘Is this true?'” It’s possible, Bledsoe explains, that your imagination could just be running away from itself. You’ll know that it’s your imagination if you’re dwelling on something that happened in the past or if you’re hyper-focused on something that may or may not happen in the future. “Walk yourself through what’s true about this scenario,” Bledsoe says. “Ask yourself if there are other perspectives. Ask yourself if you have all of the information. And ask yourself if breathing shallowly is making your life better or worse. See your thoughts for what they are.”
Tip #6: Breath
We touched on this above as part of Bledsoe’s body-mind story cycle, but it’s an important enough function that it warrants its own tip.
“The breath not only neurologically allows us to settle, but it also brings the body back home to itself,” Lipton says. “Find somewhere where you can get away for a moment and breathe. This settles the mind and allows us to gain familiarity with what we’re experiencing from an emotional and physical standpoint. It also allows us to settle down a bit.”
This, Lipton says, gives us deeper access to our wisdom. As a result, you may have a revelation as simple as realizing that all that news you’re absorbing may be doing you more harm than good, and that you’d be better off breathing or meditating for a few minutes alone.
Tip #7: Establish a Morning Routine
“Everyone should create a morning routine that addresses your brain, body, and best next step,” Pence says. Your routine only has to be five minutes, so you don’t have any reason not to try this tip. Here’s how to address those three key points:
- Your body: According to Pence, you can drink a glass of water, stretch for one or two minutes, or even do 20 burpees. The activity doesn’t have to be complicated.
- Your brain: Journal for a minute, says Pence, repeat your mantra, or even do a minute of meditation on the Headspace app.
- Your best next step: Amid this uneasy climate, Pence says that it’s a good idea to think deeply about what your next move of the day should be. “Should you turn on the TV and listen to more of what’s making you anxious? Probably not,” she says. “Should you go outside and take a few deep breaths of fresh air. Probably.”
Related Link: 10 Tips to Stay Healthy and Virus-Free at the Gym