You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the world there is no (one) exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed, there has never been a (person) like you . . . You have the capacity for anything. ~Pablo Casals
Every time I see the above quote I first read in a book by the inspiring Pam Grout, I can’t move on without reading the quote a second, and sometimes a third time. It speaks a truth so often forgotten: each of us is one-of-a-kind with tremendous potential. Nobody else will ever be able to share your specific gifts the way you can. And the world needs your special gifts, now more than ever. Rather than celebrating the benefits of individuality, however, media and society downplay its merits and mandate that we act and think like everyone else. What a pity our self perception has become so twisted. Reading the Casals quote opens my heart and lifts my spirits. Every cell in my body seems to shout in unison, ding, ding, ding, that describes us perfectly! Let’s read it again and bathe in this delicious Truth a little longer!
The words of that quote are a go-to for me when I’m feeling down. Since the start of the covid outbreak, I’ve found it necessary to keep my thoughts on the present moment and focus on my blessings more than usual. (Hopefully, these are habits I’ll maintain after our covid reality disappears!) From the many articles and social media posts I’ve read related to depression, anxiety, and suicide, I believe a lot of us are struggling daily. Although I’ve never been clinically depressed, I socially isolated and subsisted for the better part of a year on red wine and Haagen Dazs while witnessing the end of the world I had known. (Read my story here.) I have great empathy for those who struggle with feelings of darkness, and I’d like to offer a few coping tips, from both my personal experience as well as scientific findings on Nature. If you are working with a doctor and taking meds, please don’t stop. Just give some of these ideas a whirl in addition. (Oh, and a tip: I find that when starting something new or doing something tough, scheduling it on my daily planner helps me remember and be more consistent.)
- Savor the feeling of each compliment you receive and the pleasure associated with admiring beauty for at least 20 seconds. According to Marci Shimoff, NYT bestselling author of Happy for No Reason, this creates new neural pathways, making it a little easier to access and experience those feelings regularly.
- Do a news fast. If you’re like me, you react to the news of our horrific state of affairs with a furrowed brow & an overwhelming sense of fear, and that heaviness follows you around all day, affecting your thinking and conversations. Go for a few days or weeks without exposing your heart and mind to news reporting. You will be amazed at how much lighter you’ll feel!
- Listen to music that you enjoyed at a time when you felt really good about yourself and thought you had the world by the tail! Music has the ability to take us back to a totally different mindset. For me, that music includes Stevie B, TKA, Lisa Lisa, Prince, Janet Jackson, Boston, The Scorpions, Toto, and REO Speedwagon. What is some of your world-by-the-tail music?
- Seek out a reason to laugh every day – watch a funny movie, relish in playtime with your pet, listen to a stand-up comic, play a socially-distanced game with friends. Christiane Northrup, MD, author of The Power of Joy – How the Deliberate Pursuit of Pleasure Can Heal Your Life, says that our very design predisposes us to seek pleasure, and the experience of joy makes us healthier, smarter, and even younger.
- Spend some time outdoors. Many of us are now spending more time inside our homes than ever before. The human body has not evolved in an environment anything like our homes, offices, or cars over the past 5 million years. According to the author of Brain Food, Lisa Mosconi, who has PhDs in both neuroscience and nuclear medicine, 99% of the time humans have spent on earth have been as hunter-gatherers, therefore, outside, active, and in relation to others. (By the way, take a guess where I was when I had an epiphany that would end my wine and ice cream habit & totally change my life? I was outside.)
- Get some exercise. In the article Exercise and Mental Health: Many Reasons to Move, from the journal Neuropsychobiology, it is suggested that overwhelmingly, scientific findings are linking successful brain function with regular exercise. And successful brain function can mean less lethargy, fewer dark thoughts, and decreased anxiety.
- Eat more colorful, non-GMO fruits & vegetables. According to Dr. Zach Bush, an internationally-recognized physician specializing in internal medicine, endocrinology and hospice care, genetically-modified gluten (found in grains like wheat, rye, & barley) opens the tight junctions in our guts, resulting in tiny particles of food escaping. These escaped particles can cross the blood-brain barrier, causing inflammation, which leads to depression, dementia, and other brain issues. On another note, eating more real food and less processed food upgrades the microbiome, which can manipulate the brain’s reward center and our mood. For more on the critical importance of the microbiome, check out this article.
- Check in with yourself constantly regarding your hydration needs. According to Gina Bria, coauthor of Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration even a 1.4% rate of dehydration results in brain shrinkage, which leads to memory loss and other cognitive issues. Shrunken brain, it turns out, is a common condition in Alzheimer’s patients. (For more on hydration, go here.)
- Read something that you find inspirational, even if it’s one page a day. Filling your thoughts with good stuff is super important! Want suggestions? How about poetry by Rumi, a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, a Gregg Braden book, or the writing of the author who first introduced me to the quote at the start of this article, Pam Grout?
- Learn something new. It will give you a sense of pride, as well as something new to think and talk about!
It’s easy to get carried away by the dark, gloomy current of this covid reality, especially if your mood and mindset were challenged by depression before the virus appeared. Finding little ways to better cope can make a huge difference. I do hope you’ll give some of these suggestions a go. And of course, I’d love to hear in the comments if you do!
Blessings for Love & Light,