A lot is happening around us and I would like to discuss why you should not get sucked into the negative energy of this event, and instead focus on how you can transform this fear into possibility. I ask that you add flexibility to your minds and openness to your hearts to deal with the changes that are happening.
We have learned from the centenarians around the world that their lives were full of challenges, changes and adversity. We learn that it’s not about living a life free of these events-a long happy life is about how to respond to these changes around us.
Five things you can start doing from home to turn this adversity into opportunity:
1. Get into Flow state. Turn your free time into growth. What is flow? The best example I can come up with is when there is nothing between a surgeon and his scalpel-this is Flow. Time passes and the surgeon remains in the present moment. This is when there is no past or future. He or she is totally immersed in the here and now.
Psychologist and researcher, Milhay Csikzentmilahy describes the state of “Flow” as the pleasure, delight, creativity and process of when we are completely immersed in life. Czikszentmihalyi analyzed data from New York to Okinawa and concluded we can all reach the state of Flow in the same way.
Csikszentmihalyi describes eight characteristics of flow:
-Complete concentration on the task.
-Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback.
-Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down).
-The experience is intrinsically rewarding.
-Effortlessness and ease.
-There is a balance between challenge and skills.
-Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination.
-There is a feeling of control over the task.
2. Exercise your brain. One of my core beliefs as a doctor is that our brain and body are connected. This was the basic premise of me going on my own and leaving the conventional medical world. Just like a sedentary lifestyle can be toxic to our bodies, a sedentary mind can be toxic to our brains. If you are not actively exercising your brain, you are losing the neurons and the neuronal connections. Hebbs Rule states that, “neurons that wire together fire together.” Now, more than ever, you need to learn new information, step outside of your comfort zone, feel calmer so your brain can recruit other neurons and start to form positive neuroplasticity in your brain. We know from habit research that it takes approximately 66 days to form a new neuronal pathway.
3. Stress Less. The last few days have been nothing but stressful for most people in the world. We have been living in a world of instant gratification, constant comparison and competition. And now the world is at its wits-ends with the Coronavirus. Acute stress to such events is a natural response however, persistent chronic stress can be lethal. Humans use the stress response to deal with adversity. This means that every time you activate the stress response, you activate your pituitary gland, which releases corticotropin, corticotropin then triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline and cortisol increase your pulse rate, respiratory rate and prepare your body to tackle the dangerous situation ahead of you.
This is a very helpful mechanism of survival in times of great need, however if this process is constantly turned on as impulse… most people start experiencing high cortisol, inhibition of other hormones that lead to insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, and osteoporosis. Even if the threat is not real, all of these mechanisms can be turned on with what is called ‘perceived threat’, such as your phone going off, a Facebook notification, email notification, a text...etc. Your brain reacts the same way.
4. Move more. While you are home and helping to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, do not become sedentary. Sitting has been deemed the new smoking-it leads to many diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and early death. A sedentary life leads to progressive deterioration of telomeres in the immune system. Kids who sit and have sedentary lifestyles are at increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease as adults. Now is a good time go out into the woods and start practicing ForestBathing.
5. Sleep more. Sleep is a powerful anti-aging tool. One the hormones associated with sleep is melatonin. Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland from the neurotransmitter serotonin. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant, and it strengthens the immune system. It promotes natural production of insulin, slows the onset of dementia and it prevents fractures. To have adequate melatonin production: eat a balanced diet, safely soak up some sun every day, avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.
It's been a delight to be of service to you during this difficult time. I hope you found this clinical training session helpful and will apply this to your lifestyle. I would love to hear from you on how you are staying focused on your health and creating positive habits that will bring growth to you.
To Your Health,
Kiran Grewal MD