Perhaps it’s good to briefly write about the mechanics of stress.
Short story: Stress is a good thing when delivered to us in a measured way.
I call it the Goldilocks of Stress. Just the right amount, just the right quality. And yes, that goes for chairs, beds and porridge too.
Too much stress and we weaken.
Too little stress and we weaken.
That’s right. We weaken under too much stress, but also under too little.
In the right amount, however, we strengthen.
The right amount of stress is called adaptive stress because the body (and mind, but not there yet…) is able to adapt and strengthen itself to better counteract it in the future.
Put a little weight on a barbell, lift it a few times, and when that’s finished (and with proper rest/recovery time), the body will do some work and repair to make that weight slightly less difficult to lift next time around. The body will strengthen in order to be more prepared for the next weight lifting session. Keep the stress of the weights measured long enough and the lifting eventually becomes easy – this is usually the time that weight lifters put a little more weight on the barbell to begin the strengthening process again.
On the other hand, go into the gym for the very first time and put 200 lbs. on the barbell or don’t lift at all. Outcome won’t be increased strength—it’ll likely either injury or no change at all.
Again, the right amount of stress allows for adaptations that result in increased strength over time.
That’s all body stuff, and worth knowing, but…
I deal first and foremost in the mind when it comes to health & happiness.
Strengthening the mind first so that when it comes to strengthening the body, people are able to pay attention to the stress they’re putting themselves under such that the body is able to actually strengthen. So that people not only get the physical results they want, but results that stick around.
This means if there is some significant external stressful stuff happening (oh, I don’t know, like something that might rhyme with ‘sorona firus’), we might decrease some of the stress we’re actually in control of to ensure that on the balance, we’re kicking some ass. Figuratively.
I believe none of us wants to ever be ‘just surviving. That’s a model of a ton of stress under which our bodies and minds are not adapting. That’s us just trying to get through the day.
I believe we all want to thrive. To live a happy, vibrant life.
This means figuring out how to kick ass when we don’t have to be in survival mode.
So…is it even possible to thrive in the midst of all the craziness that’s happening in the world right now?
Thriving right now means learning real self-care. Moving quickly past the painfully obvious advice being thrown around (deep breaths, acts of kindness, healthy eating, exercise, good sleep, gratitude as if any of that is groundbreaking) and getting to the real work of implementing what you/we already know. Creating and sustaining healthy habits. Keeping an eye on stress to maintain it in the very right place to allow the body and mind to get stronger. Not taking on too much or too little.
In other words, if you’re house-bound, while you may technically have enough time on your hands to meditate for 45 minutes every day, it’s quite possible 45 minutes is too much for you, for now. For you. Instead, maybe start with 5 or 10 minutes because you know this: 45 minutes right out of the chute will burn you out, but doing no meditation ain’t gonna be good for you either.
Here are a couple facts:
Thriving is mindset.
You can thrive, pandemic or not.