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Mindset Monday

SURVIVING V.S. THRIVING

I want to say congrats to you all for surviving yet another week of Level 4 Lockdown. No matter what coping strategies you are using I am sure there would have been some imperfect moments or days within the last week where you were sick of being in lockdown and were tempted to lock yourself in the garage and skull a bottle of wine (or is that just me?).

Whether you can relate to the wine skulling or not you have survived five weeks, and it is important to acknowledge that not everyday is going to be great. If you feel like you failed to be positive for a day or didn’t get the workout done that you set out to do because you couldn’t snatch your 50% weight and started crying (or is that just me again?) then that is A-Okay… and in fact, normal!!

In a time of unknowns, of feeling overwhelmed, and of stressors being thrown your way from multiple angles, nobody is expecting you to be perfect or to always achieve what you set out to do. If you sat down last Monday and told yourself you would get up at 7am each day for the next week and workout but you only managed to do that for 4 out of 7 days, it is easy to sit there and feel like you have failed, but we need to look at 4 out of 7 as a glass half full situation as opposed to the glass being half empty. This will not last forever, we will once again be allowed back into the gym to suffer through a gymnastics heavy WOD and you will once again have to listen my bad jokes at 5am on a Monday.

This leads me into today’s Mental Health Monday blog post topic: SURVIVING V.S. THRIVING.

At the beginning of this blog post I congratulated you all on “surviving” another week of Level 4 Lockdown… notice that I did not say “thriving” within another week of Level 4 Lockdown.

Level 4 might not be the time for PBs, it may not be the time for writing the best assignment of your life, it may not be the time that you decide to limit the kids screen time, it may not be the time that you decide to cut all refined sugar out of your life, and it may not be the time for feeling emotionally or physically at your peak.

Right now, may in fact be the time for introducing some low intensity movement into your routine just to get your body moving when you are feeling flat, it may be the time for setting small goals as opposed to making big changes or trying to tackle big goals, and it is absolutely the time for cutting yourself some slack.

Words associated with thriving include “flourishing”, “prospering”, and “growth” [1]. To thrive in Level 4 Lockdown would be to flourish within your circumstances, growing vigorously, progressing towards and achieving goals, and prospering as an individual within your situation.

Words and terms associated with surviving include “prevailing”, “persisting”, “hanging on”, and “making it through” [2]. To survive in Level 4 Lockdown is to push through your situation and focus on maintaining your physical and mental health and wellbeing, getting through one day or week at a time knowing that it will not last forever and you will again be able to thrive.

Now in normal life (i.e. not in lockdown) we absolutely want to be aiming to thrive rather than survive! However, lockdown is not normal life, and everyone thrives and survives within different circumstances. One person may love public speaking and thrive when they stand up and present in front of 100 people, but another person may have a fear of public speaking, and merely survive through a presentation in front of 10 people. If you are thriving through Level 4 Lockdown then you “go forth and prosper”. However, if you feel like you are surviving through this time then it is important to find some coping mechanisms for ensuring that you do in fact try to “maintain” your wellbeing so that you can also go forth and prosper once you are again in a situation to do so.


So, for those of you who identify as currently ‘Surviving’, here are some Emotion-Focused Coping strategies that you can employ to get through what is left of our lockdown! (fingers crossed Level 3 from now on… this has been written prior to the announcement). These tools are leading on from last week’s blog post where I listed possible Emotion-Focused coping strategies ☺

Three Emotion-Focused Coping Strategies to keep SURVIVING!

Below I will briefly talk about three strategies and give examples of how you can use them [3] [4].

Meditation

If you are an overthinker then this could be for you! An awesome way to practice being mindful of your thoughts and attention and hopefully feel more relaxed and in control as a result!

Now you do not need to sit cross legged with your fore finger and thumb pressed together on your knees to meditate as you may stereotypically see in movies. You can sit at your desk during your lunch break, you can lie on the garage floor to relax after your workout, or you can listen to guided meditations in bed to help you fall asleep.

Meditating can be long or short! If you have never meditated before then I would advise picking shorter options and to follow a guided mediation track that can be found on either YouTube or some awesome apps for either iPhone or Android (links and suggestions below).

Here are some benefits of meditation, this study referenced is specifically on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during COVID-19 lockdowns! ☺ [5]

  • Allows your thoughts to come and go without attachment,

  • Increased feelings of calmness or stillness,

  • Improved emotional regulation,

  • Reduces stress and anxiety, and

  • Physical changes, such as reduced blood pressure and cortisol levels.

Yoga with Adriene has a few good meditations, here is a link to her “7 min meditation to start your day” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0PSUDvLi8E

An app that I cannot recommend enough and that I use is Headspace. They do a 7-day free trial with a good intro sequence you can follow for just 10 min a day. Follow this link for more info ☺ https://www.headspace.com

Journaling

Journaling has been proven to help writers develop greater awareness of the positive benefits of stressful events [6]!

By giving yourself the time to sit down and write out your experiences and feelings during stressful times you can improve your mind’s ability to process what is going on in your life, sometimes allowing a different and more positive perspective on your circumstances.

Here are some quick idea for to starting to put pen to paper:

  1. You only need 10 minutes!

  2. Find a spare pad or notebook, or even just use some scrap paper, you only need something to get your thoughts onto.

  3. Write down what you are grateful for today.

  4. Draw pictures!

  5. Use your journal to plan your day the night before, give yourself a small achievable goal to achieve that will make you feel successful.

  6. Use your journal to review what you have been through during your day, including the ups and downs.

  7. Write down any special quotes that you want in an easy to go to place for when you need them.

Seeking Social Support

This one is simple!! Just like you would book in a dinner out with your friends, or a coffee date with a sibling, or plan to book in for the same class on Wodify with your gym buddy, it is important to still do this virtually!

It may take a little bit more effort, and it may make you feel slightly more vulnerable, but maintaining those connections and feeling that social support may be what gets you through the week! (Especially if you are an extrovert like me).

Try and set yourself a goal to book in some type of social interaction with someone outside of your bubble for 2 to 3 times in the next seven days. Get off social media, stop messaging and scrolling, and book in a face time, Zoom call, or Facebook video messenger chat with someone who you know is going to help fill your cup and get you through the day!

Disclaimer:

It is important to acknowledge that this blog post is intended to provide information and is not professional advice. Information provided in this blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice from a qualified mental health professional. Please note that the information provided in this blog post is not intended to be therapy or psychological advice, not does it constitute a therapist/client relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you have regarding your mental health or physical well-being.

Where to get help:

References

[1]

Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "Thrive," [Online]. Available: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thrive. [Accessed 20 September 2021].

[2]

Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "Surviving," [Online]. Available: https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/surviving. [Accessed 20 September 2021].

[3]

American Psychological Association, "Emotion-focused coping," 2020. [Online]. Available: https://dictionary.apa.org/emotion-focused-coping. [Accessed 13 August 2021].

[4]

C. Raypole, "7 emotion-focused coping techniques for uncertain times," 21 April 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.healthline.com/health/emotion-focused coping. [Accessed 31 August 2021].

[5]

C. Behan, "The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19," Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, vol. 37, no. 4, 2020.

[6]

P. M. Ullrich and S. K. Lutgendorf, "Journaling about stressful events: Effects of cognitive processing and emotional expression," Annals of Behavioural Medicine, vol. 24, pp. 244-250, 2002.


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