Right now, we have two battles raging on: 1) COVID-19 and 2) Fear/stress/anxiety. You’ve heard plenty on how to protect yourself from the Coronavirus, and I hope you are heeding warnings and advice to not only keep yourself safe but those in your family and community. Fear and stress are more dangerous than COVID-19 because it can cause long-term health issues long past when the virus disappears. Your anxiety isn’t going to help you one bit, so let’s look at something that can improve your mood.
Serotonin is a chemical that has a wide variety of functions in the human body. It is sometimes called the happy chemical, because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness (www.medicalnews.com). When we eat foods rich in tryptophan (think turkey), it travels to our brain and is converted into serotonin. What you may not know, however, is that 95 percent of serotonin is produced from our gut (www.health.com/March2020).
Serotonin is what helps us gauge and understand emotions, and it is linked all the way back to ancient times with what we now call “fight or flight.” When we are stressed, our body’s chemicals get out of balance, and when serotonin gets off kilter, there goes our ability to rationally process emotions aka panic purchasing!
Besides turkey, you can get tryptophan in bananas, eggs, nuts, and cheese. I have been a fan of the supplement for a very long time as it helps you get to sleep and stay that way by calming your mind. Anyone’s mind going nuts right about now…flooded with “what if’s?”
Serotonin in our gut impacts our bone density and metabolism. Probiotics and prebiotics are recommended to keep your gut healthy so that it continues to produce proper levels of serotonin. Others things you can do to increase your levels: exercise and sun light. Since we can’t control what happens in the world, let’s work on what we can: our thoughts.
We are living in uncertain times, but one thing I can assure you: some time alone isn’t such a bad thing. A lack of solitary is worrisome, says Robert J. Coplan, Ph. D, researcher of psychology at Carleton University in Ontario, Canada. “Solitude can bolster creativity, productivity, and happiness.” Without alone time, our empathy for others can decrease. It’s the old “when your cup is empty, you have nothing to offer.”
I believe this is an excellent time to stretch and grow ourselves. I have never struggled with alone time. In fact, I know I need it to recharge as I am a giver. If I want to keep giving, I have to fill back up. Nature is my go-to, and I spend the time in gratitude, prayer, and praise. What about you? Are you able to be alone? Can you do things by yourself? If you answered no, I encourage you to try.
When we are under unusual amounts of stress, alone time is paramount to prevent our “ugly head” from appearing. It’s your strength pushed to the limit. We each recover and renew differently. Know what works for you and carve out time to do it.
Quiet time helps with perspective. How easy it is to get carried off on the crazy train of social media and see only the negative or worse-case scenario. Shut your devices off and breath in good things like peace, health, and happiness. When you exhale, push out your worries, releasing them. Visualize them as small aliens invading your body, and you want to get them out!
Being alone helps us to appreciate those around us. Hey, I can’t miss you if you never leave! Funny but true. We can also see the value and good out there despite the bad. If you are uncomfortable doing things alone, start off easy with just 10 minutes in a quiet place away from your family. Going for walks or hikes is also a great way to find your center. However you do it, spend some time with the most important person in your life: you!!
Has your business been impacted by COVID-19? I don’t think any of us will get out of this without some negative consequences. What we do with it will make the difference between temporary set backs and permanent ones. We must press on despite the stress, and we must be keenly aware of the increase likelihood of conflict.
Stress can bring out the worst in us (just look at the panic purchasing going on!), and it has no place at work. We must start with self and take an inventory: how am I doing? Be honest with yourself and acknowledge the emotions you are feeling. Each personality style will be affected differently, and it is up to you to do what you need to keep things in check. We are humans, not robots, so anxiety and fear are to be expected…emotional outbursts, not so much.
How we are doing will influence our conversations with others, especially considering they may be emotional, too. Simple requests can turn ugly on a dime if we are not careful. Be clear and focus on the task or discuss at hand. Sometimes less is more and keeping it simple can prevent a blow up. If you find someone at the office is “hanging on by a thread,” encourage them to take a break.
As we continue to maneuver through these uncharted waters, let’s remember we are all on the same team. Extend extra grace and work twice as hard at communicating in ways that work for others. Together we can do it!
Just because in-person events are canceled doesn’t mean you can’t invest in your greatest asset – your people! In fact, I would go as far to say that it is critical that you offer some online training options to keep employees engaged. I have an excellent online training designed for independent studio (available 24/7) that can be discussed as a group virtually. It includes the training modules broken up into bite-sized pieces, handouts, exercise instructions, and exam.
It is affordable and perfect for green horns to experienced leaders alike. To learn more, visit: