Available in : Vietnamese
There is a hidden danger in Vietnam that people are not talking about. A lot of my friends, clients, and colleagues are having a difficult time dealing with the current Covid-19 pandemic. I have done more mental health and wellbeing workshops in the past two months than the past 2 years and people are really suffering. Whether it’s in Vietnam (where we are on strict lockdown) or globally, the constant barrage of negative information, change, isolation, and work-from-home can take its toll on anyone; CEO and professional alike! So, what is it we can do? As an executive performance and wellness coach, I work with professionals every day and have a chance to listen and understand what they are going through. So many Vietnamese feels lonely, scared, stressed, anxious and depressed and don’t have the tools or support they need to feel better.
The things I teach at Repurpose you create changes in someone’s brain that lead to them feeling happier and more relaxed. I focus on activities that help generate and release 4 different brain chemicals: oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine. Long story short, when we learn tools to activate the brain in certain ways it reduces stress and improves long-term happiness. So, how do we make the best use of our brains for improved wellbeing?
This is HUGE. I won’t spend the time to explain it BUT our thinking creates our emotions which creates our experience of the world. Change our thinking, and we change our experience. In that sense, we can go from a ‘bad’ situation to a ‘good’ situation very quickly. One of the things we do in my workshops is repurposing our thinking. A lot of us think in statements. For example:
“This sucks. I hate working from home.”
“I can’t see my friends and online meetings are terrible.”
“Lockdown keeps me from doing what I love”
“Covid is the worst thing ever, the world is ending.”
Okay, common things you may be thinking. Of course, if that’s what you are thinking, then your feeling about the situation isn’t good and therefore the experience of it is ‘bad’. Let’s try turning those statements into positively oriented questions:
“What advantages do I get working from home? What opportunities can I take advantage of”
“What family or friends have I not talked to in a while that I could connect with.”
“What am I learning about myself, my life, and my future? How can I take the time to grow?
“Are there new things I can learn or activities I can begin”
As an exercise, list down all of the negative statements you have been making to yourself. Be honest and take your time. Next, turn those statements into questions that get you to consider the situation more optimistically. I have done this exercise 1000’s of times with people and I can promise you if you do it, it works! Remember where our focus goes, our energy flows!
Relationships and Connections
Speaking of focus, a lot of us during lockdown fixate and focus on the fact that we can’t see certain people (friends, family, co-workers). There is a cost to this focus because the lockdown still gives us an opportunity to deepen connections. There is a very strong causative relationship between social connections and happiness. Great relationships can add YEARS to our lives. Our brains are hard-wired to connect and we release oxytocin (the love hormone) when we have substantive interactions with others. So, I challenge you (like I have done myself) to reach out to people you could catch up with or would benefit from speaking with more. What opportunities are there to connect with others who we may have lost touch with or mean a lot to us?
So, make a point to schedule 2 meetings a week with family, friends, or colleagues. Make sure you are making room for meaningful points of contact with people. Allow the space for a real, genuine conversation. This will have a profound effect on your state of well-being and help shift your mindset in an undeniably joyful way. Interestingly, in Buddhism, the three treasures are Buddha (the teacher), Dharma (the teaching), and Sangha (family or community). So, essential to a meaningful and awakened life is to be surrounded by those who are willing to walk beside us.
Kindness and Gratitude
As mentioned above, our mindset is everything. What we focus on is what creates our experience, so I highly recommend people to consider the following exercises which will definitely improve your happiness. In fact, it’s been proven that a genuine 20 seconds spent on gratitude can change your brain (in a good way).
Recreate a positive experience. If you had an enjoyable experience throughout the day, even small, spend a few minutes writing every detail you can. As you actively recall positive experiences your brain creates ‘emotional tags’ and labels them as ‘meaningful’ thus, further imprinting them into your memory. It’s very interesting because the brain can’t tell the difference between actual and visualized experiences so it can have a double impact. Do this every day and after 21 days it will become a habit and create lasting change.
Thank people you are close to. Whether it is an email, phone call, or text message, think of someone who has helped you, provided value to you, or has been a positive influence. Express to them your sincere feelings of appreciation and explain to them the reasons why. This is a sure way to help cultivate better relationships and improve your brain’s capacity to experience more positive states of being. Show those around you kindness by helping them, supporting them, and wishing them well during this time.
All of the above activities work. The key is to find the courage, to take the time to do them. I understand very well that when things are not ideal, we can get caught in traps. Gratitude literally re-wires our brain by building and reinforcing neural pathways which facilitate the perception and feeling of gratitude. The mechanism is geeky but, in short, the more you practice it the easier it becomes and the better the world looks.
I can’t write a wellness article if it doesn’t include breathing exercises. There are many that I know (including meditation practice) but the one I will share here is HIGHLY effective and very simple. Long story short, when we practice this technique, it causes our mind and body to instantly calm down and relax. So, follow these instructions:
Breathe in for a FULL 3 seconds (deep inhaling)
Breathe out for a FULL 9 seconds (deep exhaling)
Repeat this 6 times in a row. Start now! How do you feel?
With ALL this in mind, I think the key to remember here is picking just ONE of these exercises, and doing it frequently is enough to produce lasting, and measurable changes in your brain. As a challenge, comment below and let me know which one you chose and the effect it had on you!
Brad is a certified executive performance and wellness coach. After recovering from years of chronic mental and physical illness he founded Repurpose You to help professionals, leaders, and organizations optimize performance through the science of well-being, mindset and behavior. He uses cutting-edge methodologies to optimize individual and team mental health, improve communication and create psychological safety which has an enormous positive impact on life and professional outcomes. He has proudly served an international client base of managers and C-suite level professionals, coaching them to find greater happiness, meaning, and purpose in life improve performance, and enhance leadership character and competency. Info on FB HERE
Available in : Vietnamese