Is the pandemic ruining your body?
According to Amanda Mull of The Atlantic, Yes, the pandemic is ruining your body. Mull cites her own locked hips, along with a litany of maladies health professionals are encountering such as eczema flare-ups and hair shedding, achy backs and wobbly legs, itchy eyes and cracked teeth, as evidence that staying at home for long stretches of time is wreaking havoc on our bodies. But most of these aches and pains can be avoided with the application of the sleep-step-sweat-reflect-connect wellness formula. The goal of this week's 5-Minute Recharge is to ensure that the pandemic doesn't ruin your body by offering you the latest research, tips, and expert advice that will help you create your own wellness action plan. Let’s get started! ONE QUOTE “We propose a pretend commute as an intervention.” – Anna Cox, professor University College London prescribes a pretend commute such as a walk around the block, to mark the beginning and end of your workday and guard against burnout. ONE IMAGE
The swoosh has been repurposed to encourage everyone to take regular breaks from sitting. Your achy back and itchy eyes will thank you. THREE IDEAS #1 Let it RAIN. It’s a safe bet that many of the aches and pains of lockdown life are a result of people disconnecting from their bodies and throwing themselves into busyness as a way of avoiding unpleasant feelings. Psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach refers to this disconnection as a “trance,” a mental state in which we’ve lost touch with ourselves and others. Brach encourages us to stop and ask ourselves this question: At this moment, what am I unwilling to feel? Suffering is an invitation to the four-step RAIN practice:
Recognize: Pause and acknowledge that something needs your attention.
Allow: Let the experience be as it is, and note the predominant emotion.
Investigate: Explore how the experience is manifesting itself in your body, and ask yourself, “What are the underlying beliefs driving the emotion?”
Nurture: Offer yourself self-compassion through words and actions.
On a recent must-hear episode of The Happiness Lab, Tara Brach shares her experience of living in a trance of unworthiness in which her mantra was, “There's not enough time.” Sound familiar? Be a RAIN maker. “When we miss out on challenging emotions, we also miss out on love and joy.” – Tara Brach #2. Got any endocannabinoids, Dude? Where does the runner’s high come from? According to new research reported in Canadian Running, it may have originated as a reward for our hunter-gatherer ancestors to make them continue to hunt and gather for long periods of time so that they wouldn’t starve. Previously, post-exercise endorphins were thought to be the reason for the runner’s high, but scientists now believe it’s the “don’t worry be happy” endocannabinoids that are responsible. Just like cannabis, endocannabinoids ease pain and improve mood, and are small enough to cross the blood-brain barrier where they give you an immediate emotional and physical boost. Research measuring endocannabinoid levels and mood found that walking is not enough to unlock your happy chemicals, and running full-out is too much. You can get a hit of endocannabinoids any time you engage in moderate physical activity for more than roughly 20 minutes. (If you’re wondering how to define moderate, you can speak in sentences when you’re running/cycling/dancing/hiking, etc. at a moderate level, but you can’t sing...when exercise becomes intense, you can’t say more than a few words.) Moderate intensity exercise is believed to mimic the effort of hunter-gatherers. “In truth, the runner’s high isn’t really caused by running, but persistence.” – Brittany Hambleton, Canadian Running #3 Be a beginner. As we learned last week from CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sandeep Gupta, keeping sharp as you age means creating new pathways in the brain through new experiences. Author Tom Vanderbilt has embraced new experiences by becoming a beginner surfer, singer, juggler, drawer and chess player, and chronicles his adventures in Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning that he discusses in a recent episode of the Outside podcast. Although being a beginner can be humbling, it’s also one of the easiest ways to become a new person. Self-transformation happens when you awaken dormant capabilities, reconnect with childhood dreams, and look at the world in different ways. Vanderbilt likens exploring a number of new skills to doing high-intensity interval training for the brain, and encourages all of us to reclaim dilettante as a positive word that comes to us from the Latin delectare that means “to delight.” “More than looking to make myself more marketable to employers, I wanted to make myself more marketable to me.” – Tom Vanderbilt, from Beginners *********************************** THE FAST FIVE 1. Why run unless something is chasing you? - The Harvard Gazette (We evolved to be physically active, but sadly, not to exercise.) 2. Find the Place You Love. Then Move There. - The Atlantic (Home is where your heart tells you it is.) 3. An 11-Minute Body-Weight Workout With Proven Fitness Benefits - The New York Times (No gym? No problem.) 4. Are our personalities set in stone, or can we work on – even improve – them? The Guardian (Could your personality be a collection of learnable skills?) 5. 9 trends that will shape work in 2021 and beyond - Harvard Business Review (Two of the nine trends shaping work involve mental health.) *********************************** YOUR 5-MINUTE RECHARGE CHALLENGE YOUR (SPIRITUAL) FITNESS PLAN “We feel as though we’ve been placed in a position of neutrality, safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are never cocky, nor are we afraid. That’s our experience. That’s how we react, as long as we stay in fit spiritual condition.” This is a passage from professor Brené Brown's most formative book, The Big Book by Bill W., the story of Alcoholics Anonymous. It's a passage that she reads aloud during a recent episode of 3 Books. Brown also shares her spiritual fitness plan that's the inspiration for this week’s 5-Minute Recharge challenge. To prevent the ruinous effects of the pandemic on mind and body, take a few minutes to draft a “spiritual fitness plan” (you can drop the word “spiritual” if it makes you feel better, but Brené would prefer that you leave it in.) Here’s her spiritual fitness plan: - carve out alone time - act out my love for the people in my life, don’t just profess it - get a handle on my anger - maintain a robust gratitude practice Your turn. “Ordinary moments that we take for granted because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments are the only moments that matter.” – Brené Brown Wishing you ordinary moments that you pause to savor, Lynne Everatt, The 5-Minute Recharge