The note below was shared with our OFS family. We are concerned about everyone's mental and physical wellbeing during this time of change and wanted to share this message broader in the hope that it provides some comfort and simple ways to discover the positive among the uncertainty. We'll see this through together. Ryan Menke
Get your sleep
We don’t know when this will end and I’ve already witnessed everyone coming out of the blocks ‘hot.’ Remember, this is a marathon of an unknown distance, not a sprint. Conserving your resources [physical, mental, emotional] will be key. Sleep is paramount! As a society, we have been in a sleep deprivation cycle for far too long. You can’t make up for lost sleep, but you can use this time to retrain your sleep patterns. I highly recommend reading or listening to “Why We Sleep.” Sleep is critical to nightly maintenance of all of our vital systems and helps keep our immune systems in peak operation. It also improves our retention and creativity and repairs the damage done by screen time, something that is growing exponentially through this isolation.
Now is the perfect time to develop an exercise routine. Just like sleep, it has incredible benefits for relieving stress and boosting our immune systems. Make sure you ease into it and listen to your body and don’t overdo it. You don’t need a gym. There are plenty of amazing online bodyweight workouts out there including our VP of Design, John Phillips, daughter, Taylor McAllister. You can find her on Instagram or on her website and join in practical, fun, and fast workouts that energize and motivate us.
Stick to a nutrition routine
There are lots of memes out there right now about eating up all your rations in the first few days. Sleep and psychology play a huge role in this. First, if we aren’t sleeping 7-8 hours a day our brain releases hormones that tell us to eat and also block our sensation of being full. Second, we eat because we are depressed or bored [same goes for drinking too much]. Reestablishing your routine and sticking with it will help curtail this urge to overindulge. This is also a great time to learn to cook. A great resource for nutritional psychology is a friend and fellow Hoosier, Dr. Drew Ramsey, MD.
Mental games are another fantastic tool to have in your kit. I’ve read about and employed many different strategies to help with the monotony of repetitive tasks. These critical isolation measures we are all taking will start to feel like groundhog day if they haven’t already. Mix things up and move the goal post on yourself all the time. In doing hours of monotonous swimming, I would make up mental games to keep my mind focused on the challenge of the particular game so it didn’t start to migrate to its natural tendency of negative thoughts that eventually lead to excuses to quit.
Take time to meditate
I’ve used meditation off and on over the last year or two, but only recently have gotten more disciplined with it. While I have a very long way to go, I have found that on the mornings I make time for meditation, I’m always in a more calm and positive state of mind. I prefer to do short 15 to 18-minute “gratitude” meditations that focus on the positive that I want to see in the world. Try it, it works. There are many out there including some great apps, but here is one video that I like to follow, or I enjoy Jay Shetty's 20 minute meditations on Instagram live.
Practice positive self-talk
Positive self-talk is a tool used by elite performers around the globe. It doesn’t matter if they are athletes, warfighters, musicians, actors, or the like. They all practice visioning and positive self-talk. Our words become our thoughts; our thoughts become our beliefs; our beliefs become our actions.
A positive mental attitude [PMA] is critical to our long term health. Surround yourself with people that reinforce your strengths and replace your weaknesses. Humor is a great tool for getting through this time, too. Don’t be afraid to laugh even if it eventually leads to tears. This is all healthy. Make sure you make it a point to share gratitude at the beginning and end of your day. One thing my 7-year old daughter and I try to do every day is to start and end the day with telling each other one thing we are grateful for.
I understand that where I live we are uniquely blessed with an abundance of outdoor green space, but I hope we all can find some nature to soak up. Whether it is a single plant, a small garden, a lawn or a forest, get out and touch nature. Literally touch it. There is overwhelming science that backs up the positive effects that nature has on our mental health. Being inside too much glued to screens is making us sick so we need to take a break and just touch nature.
Moderate your media intake
Even though things are changing rapidly, they aren’t changing minute by minute so make sure to limit your media exposure. Bad/Negative news travels 7 times faster than true or fact-based information. Why? Because everyone loves a juicy story or gossip. Sensationalism grabs heads lines and drives users to their station or feed. They love to play out the “what if” scenarios to grab attention. You can’t be healthy and live in a world of “what ifs.” I’m not suggesting you bury your head in the sand, but I am suggesting that you take it in small, limited doses at the start and end of your day and from a blend of sources.
Take time to learn
Take this time to learn new skills or refresh old ones that you haven’t had time for before now. Dust off that guitar or paintbrush and just start creating. These are incredibly fun to do as an individual or with family. It is also very healthy for your mind. It engages different parts of the brain that have probably been neglected due to all the other demands that life has put on us. We need to give our Amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fight or flight, a break and engage other parts of our brain associated with creativity and love.
Enjoy time with family
None of us have enough downtime to really get to enjoy our family. All you ever hear from our elders is that they wish they would have slowed down and enjoyed the little moments with their family and friends. Take this time to really be present with your loved ones and soak it all up. Honestly, I’m not good at this and thankfully I have an amazing wife that recenters me on what is really important.
Choose to be vulnerable
Lastly, be vulnerable. It is ok for others to hear or see you in this new norm. None of us are trained for this so settling into this new way of living and sharing it is perfectly human. And quite frankly, it is needed. We are a social species and need connection. Your vulnerability gives strength to others that are struggling.
For as long as this lasts, we will be doing our best to share resources from friends, colleagues and family to help all of you during this trying time. None of us know when this will end or how severe it will get, but we do know that we have each other to get through it. Never forget that morale is our most renewable resource and it is going to take all of us leaning on one another to see this through to the end. Stay tuned as our VP of Wellbeing, Paul Anderson runs point on delivering even more resources to come.