The past year, has been like no other. Not just within the healthcare field (which has been undeniably shaken up and tested to its limits), but throughout the country, and world, for that matter. Life has changed for so many of us, and we are still not back to normal… many of us wondering if “normal” is now a relative term and forever changed. If you step back and look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s very easy to see why many of us have a very anxious feeling we just can’t shake. A feeling of being off, but we can’t quite put a finger on the cause, other than being in the midst of a pandemic we’ve never seen the likes of in our lifetimes. When some of those base needs (Physiological and Safety) are off, or less fulfilled, it creates ‘ripples’ in our beings, for lack of better term. It can affect us all in different ways, based on how our individual brains are wired, our current situations and past life experiences.
So, at the risk of sounding unrealistic, we say “GOOD VIBES ONLY.” Now hear us out. Totally understood that denying the existence of our “pandemic reality” is a temporary fix and heals nothing. You can’t positive think your way out of medical school debt, a global pandemic or your own poor health. We can, though, mindfully practice ways to elevate the positive vibes which surround us, and do little things to help us daily. Therefore, giving us all a fighting chance to be happier in our current realities. If you are anything like the rest of us, you’re probably looking for any way to nudge your mentality back to optimal levels. The lack of traditional holiday gatherings with extended family, hugs from loved ones and just those things that helps us decompress (like lack of “normal” vacations, live concerts and sports events) have inevitably taken their toll on us all after a full year. So, we’ve put together a quick list of items that are proven to help…
AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. Making this one a daily habit, as cheesy as it sounds, can change your life. Making a proactive effort to appreciate the simple things, and positive in our lives, is proven to lift your spirits and provide a mental boost. Set a reminder before going to bed, or even during your lunch break, to find one thing you are grateful for that day. Examples can include good friends, money in the bank, your own good health, having a stable job in an unstable time, pets, laughter, sunshine, mountains, the beach, sunsets…you get the picture. Simple things, that anyone can experience, that give you (personally) a moment of joy when you acknowledge they are in your life. Pay it forward; performing “random acts of kindness,” by being grateful for what you have and helping others, can also spark better moods, improve self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. It’s as simple as that. The extra step of setting the reminder on your phone to do this daily, simply helps turn the behavior into habit. If you do it consistently daily, you can turn it into automatic behavior within as little as 3 weeks. Behavior that will help make for a happier you, throughout your lifetime, if followed consistently. Try it.
ENJOY NATURE. It’s science. Spending time outdoors has been proven to lower stress levels, improve working memory and provide a sense of rejuvenation. Plenty of research shows that time in the great outdoors promotes human health. You can combine this one with #3 and #4 below; take a walk at night, with your significant other, to unwind and talk. Never hurts to double up these efforts. Saves you time and maximizes the positive effects!
EXERCISE. The benefits of exercise go far beyond the physical, they also help psychologically by releasing “feel good chemicals” that help ease feelings of negativity. Exercise also distracts us from issues going on in our crazy world right now, and physically helps us to relax. Making the effort helps your body fight off the blues by producing these hormones is one of the best “medicines” any of us can take. Any amount of activity will help, but some form of exercising for :30 minutes, at least 3 days a week is recommended to feel the best results. And in the end, it will help your overall well-being by also giving your immune system a much-needed boost. Win-win.
FIND AN EAR. Grab your significant other, or (a positive) friend/ family member, to talk to. Discussing our days out loud helps us hear the problem, admit and discuss our feelings, while putting the concerns in front of others to help us work through them. People helping us work through our issues also reassures us that someone has our backs, and that emotional support alone can mean the world on the truly rough days. Do NOT overlook that this person truly needs to offer positive advice and an uplifting perspective. The last thing you want, when already down, is to surround yourself with someone that dwells in the negative, as that will only hold you both down.
TREAT YO SELF. Some of us tend to sacrifice our lives, time and energy for those around us. Those people are the ones that help keep balance in the world, BUT they also need help sometimes realizing when they themselves need the help. Find “me time” to ensure you can keep the positive perspective in your own life. Take a day to get away from the grind, decompress and just live life…or do nothing at all. Whatever it is that helps you decompress from the grind, you need to make the effort to identify that, and take the time occasionally to do it. If you have a friend or loved one that tends to help everyone else, be the one that helps them take time to focus on themselves for once (they may need to be forced, as it’s not in their nature). Take them out to lunch. A “walk & talk” to listen to them for once. We’re all in this together, and the balance must be kept. It could mean the difference between burn out and staying afloat emotionally.
All said, there is a definite distinction between having good mental health and being truly happy. Suppressing negative feelings is not healthy. When we say “GOOD VIBES ONLY” we don’t mean you are bad, weak or failing for having a negative thought. Nor do we expect people to live in this fairytale land where everything is sugar-coated and happy 24/7. Quite the opposite. That would be a dream, but that ain’t real life! Accepting the existence of the bad vibes and developing the skills to be able to manage them, is not only healthy, but a critical life skill on this wild ride we call life.
Finally, in the spirit of this subject, if any of our travelers ever needs someone to talk to, we offer 24/7/365 assistance. Just call 1.888.319.7819, then select “Employee Assistance Program” when prompted and you’ll immediately be connected to a counselor.