Are you rushing to normal?
Have you noticed that Christmas decorations appeared earlier this year and are bigger, brighter, and more Griswold than ever? To compensate for predictions of a long, dark, cold pandemic winter ahead and the sense that something significant is missing from this holiday season, some of us may be rushing to pretend things are normal or even better than normal. This “rush to normal” is a natural response to anxiety, but Dr. Laurie Santos of Yale University advises you to resist the urge to pretend things are perfect when they’re not. According to Dr. Santos, it’s important to recognize that Covid and festive are incompatible concepts, accept that “This sucks!” and double-down on self-care. This week’s edition of The 5-Minute Recharge acknowledges the disappointment that is the 2020 holiday season, and offers expert tips, encouragement, and wisdom to help you self-care your way through the weeks ahead. ONE WORD QUOTE “Pandemic.”
– Based on extensive statistical analysis and a whole lotta duh, Merriam-Webster has declared pandemic to be the word of 2020 ONE 2020 IMAGE
2020. A year fit for a Grinch. THREE IDEAS #1 The bad, the good, and the very good news about exercise. The bad news is that, although physical activity is critical to self-care, the majority of us are moving less than we did a year ago. The good news is that there's more research to lure us off the sofa. A study out of the University of Calgary published in the journal Neurology measured a 5.7 percent boost in brain function and an improvement verbal fluency equivalent to being 5 years younger in people who exercised 20-40 minutes four times per week. But if you’re just looking to increase your odds of survival, the very good news based on a study of over 50,000 people is that the sweet spot where moderate exercise has the greatest impact on health is only 35 minutes a day, and walking for as little as 11 minutes a day can help counteract the deadly effects of sitting. “When it comes to health and well-being, regular exercise is about as close to a magic potion as you can get.” ~ Tich Nhat Hanh. #2 Nappuccino anyone? From Aristotle to Einstein, some of the greatest thinkers in history were unapologetic nappers. Sleep tops our “sleep-step-sweat-reflect-connect” self-care checklist, yet many people still resist napping. But napping needn't be time consuming or grogginess-inducing. All you need is 25 minutes to get the benefits of a nap without the brain fog. Here’s what you do: 1. Drink a cup of coffee. 2. Set a timer for 25 minutes. 3. Lie down. It takes roughly 25 minutes for your body to absorb the caffeine from your coffee. What makes the nappuccino so effective is the battle between adenosine (think of this as the groggy chemical) and caffeine. Adenosine receptors in the brain can’t tell the difference between caffeine and adenosine. Napping clears adenosine from the brain enabling even more caffeine than usual to bind to adenosine receptors. The result is you wake up from your nappuccino feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to zoom. “When the going gets tough, the tough take a nap.” – Tom Hodgkinson #3 Stop asking for feedback. Feedback, at work and in marriage, is a common phenomenon, but a bad idea. Unfortunately, research shows that feedback has little impact on performance, and in at least a third of cases, it makes matters worse. The problem, according to behavioral scientist Dr. Amantha Amber who shares her experience studying feedback in the Harvard Business Review, is that feedback is backward-focused, critical, and often too vague to be useful. Advice, on the other hand, tends to be future-oriented, hopeful, and actionable. So take Dr. Amber’s advice and ask for advice rather than feedback, be selective about whom you ask, and ask for specific advice that you can put into action. “I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.” – Oscar Wilde *********************************** THE FAST FIVE 1. Your Brain Doesn't Work the Way You Think it Does - GQ (The purpose of your brain is not to think, and other neurological concepts that will blow your mind.) 2. How to Deal with Life in Long-term Isolation - The New York Times (Tips from astronauts, Antarctic researchers, and experimental biosphere inhabitants.) 3. Galaxy Brain is Real - The Atlantic (If you want some instant therapy, look through a Hubble telescope.) 4. How Dressing Up Can Make Us Happy - BBC (Dressing up during lockdown is a way to reclaim happiness and a sense of self.) 5. Tony Hsieh’s American Tragedy: The Self-Destructive Last Months Of The Zappos Visionary - Forbes (“In some ways count him as another Covid-19 victim, except that, instead of succumbing to the disease itself, the virus appears to have accelerated some wrenching internal battles...” ) *********************************** YOUR 5-MINUTE RECHARGE CHALLENGE PANDEMICITIS Your emotional intelligence (EI)–the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions–may be declining as the pandemic shuts us off from others and ourselves. One of the ways you can give your EI a boost is to refine your definition of your emotions beyond “I feel crappy.” Speaking scientifically, you need to develop emotional granularity. This week’s 5-Minute Recharge challenge is to take a few minutes to examine an emotion you frequently experience, and give it a name to make it more specific. Have fun with this. For example, the Japanese have the word “age-otori” to describe the feeling of looking worse after a haircut. The Portuguese word “saudade” refers to a longing for an absent something or someone you love. In English, “Sunday scaries“ describes the feeling of dread 76 percent of Americans experience in anticipation of the week ahead. Eric Barker, who inspired this challenge with his recent article on EI, suggests pandemicitis - a word to describe that you’re sick of Covid. Coming up with your own words to describe your emotions is not an idle exercise: people who are more granular in assessing their emotions are less likely to abuse alcohol or freak out under stress than “clumpers” who place their emotions in broad categories of good and bad. Don't be a clumper. “When awareness is brought to an emotion, power is brought to your life.” – Tara Meyer Robson Wishing you a week free of pandemicitis,
The 5-Minute Recharge