Virus Vices, Virus Virtues
Around the time we hit SEND on last week's newsletter, Axios was reporting, in a story entitled “Virus Vices take a toll on Americans,” that alcohol sales were up 55 percent in the week ending March 21, physical activity levels were down 39 percent, and many people are concerned about the COVID-15, the 15 pounds people would gain from physical inactivity plus overeating, especially of processed food. Bad habits picked up during the pandemic could have a long-lasting negative impact on physical and mental health, but there's a more hopeful way to look at the situation. According to Atomic Habits author James Clear, through our habits we vote for the type of person we want to become. Sheltering in place has given many of us a clean ballot upon which to cast our votes with new habits, good and bad. How do you want to fill in your ballot to create the Future You? The 5-Minute Recharge is here to help you with science-based suggestions, encouragement and wellness tools. Let's get started! ONE BOLD QUOTE “Few of us do much of the solitary original bold kind of thinking that can restore our spirits and move our lives ahead.” ― The School of Life
Source: Twitter #COVIDkindness THREE VOTES #1 VOTE FOR HELPER There is a wealth of research that says if we want to be happier, we need to be other-oriented rather than self-focused. Although a baseline of self-care is important--you can't be effectively other-oriented if you haven't had enough sleep, don't move and don't make time for reflection--kindness toward others can take your wellbeing to a whole new level. If you have the resources of time or money, you can use them to help others, even if it's something as simple as making a donation, supporting a local business with a gift card, or bolstering a friend's spirits with the soothing words that this too shall pass. When it comes to being a helper, how we help matters. According to researcher and social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn, the biggest wellness boost happens when you can see the impact you're having on those you're helping. A few weeks ago we mentioned Caremongers, the Canadian initiative that pairs people in need with people who can help. Through Caremongers, Lynne found someone to deliver Easter dinner to her aunt and uncle who live outside the range of restaurant meal delivery. And Lynne herself was the recipient of help when her friend Julie picked up groceries for her while she was in quarantine after returning from the United States. Thank you Julie and Caremonger Christine, and all the other helpers who make life better for others...and, through a virtuous cycle, themselves. “Look for the helpers. You always find people who are helping.” – Mr. Rogers #2 VOTE FOR ATHLETE The stress of exercise helps us deal with the stress of pandemic life, strengthens immunity, and builds confidence. Research has shown that physical activity makes anxious people feel less anxious, depressed people feel less depressed, and people who are neither anxious nor depressed feel even better. But working out at home poses significant challenges: who likes working out in a space we associate with rest, relaxation and recovery? (Except Wojciech Machnik who ran a marathon around his bed, a head-spinning 5,626 laps.) Peak Performance author Brad Stulberg advises you to schedule time for exercise, create a space free from distractions dedicated to your fitness routine, and try to involve other people via video, if that's what you're used to. Don't expect the mood to move you: you have to move first, and trust that the good mood will follow. And be sure to lower your expectations: rather than push hard for your personal best record, shift your focus to good health and simple wellbeing. “Try to move. I have a stationary bicycle in an extra room, and I do it a few times each day, and you should do that.” – Holocaust survivor Jack Solome encourages us to keep moving #3 VOTE FOR SELF-COMPASSION Although in last week's newsletter it may have seemed that we were asking you to use your spare pandemic time to discover the equivalent of calculus or gravity, we hope that you will think deeply about how to use the shelter of home and a fresh routine to stoke your passions in a gentle way. You don't have to run around your bed 5,626 times, study the Greek classics, or learn how to play the mandolin, unless these are the things that would bring you comfort and joy. For example, Lynne has set the modest goal of 30 days of yoga with Adriene, a commitment of less than thirty minutes a day that will hopefully enable her to emerge from isolation able to put on pantyhose without triggering an abdominal cramp. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and you'll need a steady dose of self-compassion to make it through to the other side. Here are some free COVID-19 resources, including exercises and guided meditations from self-compassionate rock stars Kristin Neff Ph.D. and Chris Germer Ph.D.. “Self-quarantine can be like a retreat, albeit involuntary, and it's an excellent time to learn the practice of self-compassion.” – Kristen Neff and Chris Germer *********************************** The Fast Five 1. Advice from a sharp shooter, astronauts and submarine crews, a Holocaust survivor and Henry David Thoreau...oh, and Antarctic Expeditioners (did we mention nuns?) on how to survive and even thrive in isolation - Business Insider, The New Yorker, NY Magazine, The New York Times, NowThis, The Isle of Wight County Press 2. Harvard Medical School psychologist Susan David has advice on how to manage fear and panic, and how to regain control during these tumultuous times - Checking In Podcast (Time: 12:06 and 14:24) 3. Our favourite wellness guru Dr. Laurie Santos shares her top tips on coping amid the crisis - Choiceology Podcast (Time: 39:23) 4. Three equations for a happy life, even during a pandemic - The Atlantic 5. How to Be Resilient - Eric Barker's website *********************************** YOUR 5-MINUTE RECHARGE CHALLENGE CAST MULTIPLE VOTES FOR GRATITUDE “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson Given the current situation, it's easy to think about everything that's missing from our lives, but this isn't helpful. The research shows that we can benefit from counting our blessings, even when it feels like there may not be many to count. If you repeat this simple yet powerful exercise daily, you could feel the benefits of improved mood in as little as two weeks. Write down three to five things you're grateful for. For example... 1. Being quarantined with my favourite person 2. The grocery store has bananas! 3. Physical books to read 4. Coffee 5. Technology that entertains, informs and keeps me connected to others Take the time to do this. Please. Right now. Thank you! (And if you're looking for 100 doses of passive gratitude, check out this list from A Life of Productivity.)
“Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry, and irritation.” ― Sonja Lyubormirsky Ph.D. Wishing you find much to be grateful for in the week ahead, Lynne & Addie If you have a friend who could use a positive charge, please share our newsletter...consider it an Act of Friendship!