A Healthy Perspective

10 tips for living your best life in an upside-down world

By Maria Allen

During times of elevated stress, it is easy for basic elements of wellness—healthy eating, exercise and sleep—to fall through the cracks. This is certainly true during a global pandemic. Whether you spent the last couple months socially isolating, attempting to homeschool your kids while working from home, or serving the community as a healthcare professional or another essential worker, everyone could do with a little self-care right about now. 

We reached out to Sheryl Melanson, founder of Coastal Coaching and author of the new book, “Perspective: Harness the Power of Your Mind to Reignite Your Spirit” and asked her to share a few tips for promoting resiliency and regaining a sense of balance during challenging times.  

“We all experience a broad spectrum of stress. This year, however, has felt like a tsunami of upheaval,” says Melanson. “I have watched friends, family, and clients become overpowered by the weight and uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many have allowed healthy choices and routines to become displaced and disrupted. Less healthy coping tools like alcohol and other substances, comfort foods and emotional eating, news cycle distress, and even apathy are resurging because it’s harder to care for ourselves during times of survival. Our primitive instincts kick in, convincing us that we need to indulge to endure. In order to have the capacity to shift into a healthy perspective, we must first meet our basic needs. Without a regular rhythm of well-being and reboot habits, harnessing the power of our minds to survive and thrive is much more challenging.”

Sheryl Melanson’s tips to establish balance and promote wellness:

Be Curious -  Our minds are active nearly all the time and are often painting worrisome and limiting pictures. Shifting into curiosity expands the way we look at our lives and softens our focus away from distorted, all-or-nothing thoughts and feelings to pause in the space between. Inside this perspective-shifting capacity lies our greatest superpower.

Remember to Breathe – When you feel the physical or psychological effects of stress and are unable to be with or call another person for support, you can summon feelings of trust and safety by reconnecting with your inner resources. Place your hand over your heart and take long, slow, deep breaths, which will activate the parasympathetic calming response. As you inhale, recall a memory of feeling loved and immersed in a warm glow of peacefulness and comfort. This exercise activates a release of oxytocin that reinforces deepening resilience.

Practice Self-Care - Target one or two areas of self-care that could use a refresh (physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, or educational). Practice yoga. Stretch and relax. Read for pleasure. Remember that self-care is not selfish and social distancing needn’t be social isolation.

Consider Challenge an Opportunity - Remind yourself that life is full of ups and downs and that challenges and discomfort can be disguised opportunities for growth.

Practice Acceptance and Self-Compassion - Minimize grievance-listing and self-judgment. Happiness is not a steady state but a choice we make. Choose an attitude of gratitude. What you focus on grows stronger.

Help Others - Reach out and help someone in need. When we help others, we help ourselves.

Meditate - A Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) is a simple mindfulness meditation that emphasizes caring and connection where loving kindness is directed first toward oneself, then in sequential expansion toward loved ones, neutral people, challenging people and all beings everywhere.

Do a Digital Detox - On the one hand, we need to stay connected while physically distanced. However, digital overload can lead to over-sensitized, agitated and distracted brains which can provoke issues with sleep, concentration, depression and anxiety. Ask someone to be a digital balance/detox partner.

Engage in Something Playful - Take fresh air breaks, go for a daily walk and increase time spent outdoors. Learn something new to activate pathways in the brain.

Maintain Balance and Boundaries - Sometimes less is more. Focus on process over outcome. A pause in our routines is a perfect time to inventory how and with whom we are spending our energy.