Letter for YOU

Published On - 28 April, 2020By Alina Butunoi

If there’s one key thing to take away from these unprecedent and stressful times, it’s that slowing down and learning how to stay centered and grounded can be a huge source of comfort. In fact, now is the perfect time to take a breath and to pay attention to ourselves, our needs and the needs of the world around us.

So how exactly do we do that? Well, according to many psychologists, our mind works best when we have three key elements:

  • Good Information
  • Good Energy
  • Good Relationships

With that in mind, here are some tips you can use to stay centered and grounded using these three elements.

Good Information

Read Only What You Need: Choose to read factual and accurate news, but don’t overwhelm your brain. Instead, limit your intake of news to a maximum of an hour a day. In times of unpredictability our minds suffer as they struggle to prepare us for the unknown, so it latches on to any information it can find. That doesn’t mean burying our heads in the sand, but instead means limiting our exposure to doom and gloom filled news.

Build Resiliency Through Purpose: How do we get back to “normal” or balance after adversity? As humans we all have resiliency, but we need to raise our self-awareness and stimulate it! Ask yourself, what drives you? What keeps you going even when things get uncomfortable or difficult? In other words: what is your why? By finding and focusing on your purpose, you’re actually helping to build resiliency in the face of adversity.

Reduce Stress Through Mindfulness: By observing how you think and how you manage emotions you can work on techniques to lessen the impact of stress on you. I like to practice the presence conscious practice of “addressing the here and now of life” which is the core principal of mindfulness. For example, turn your attention inward to your breath and say to yourself: “I am inhaling and I am here. I am exhaling and I am here. I inhale and I am conscious as I inhale. I inhale and I am aware as I inhale. I inhale and arrive. I exhale and arrive. I’m inhaling and I’m here. I’m exhaling and I’m here!” You can also incorporate the practice into walking. For example: “One step: one breath in. One step: one breath out”. Take the opportunity to observe how you behave and keep a calm rhythm and equal tone as your focus on your surroundings and experiences in each moment.

Good Energy

Remove Clutter: Freshen up a room and clean up any clutter. This will allow you to sleep better and help remove the mental clutter that often goes hand-in-hand with our environment.

Stay Physically Active: Try a new form of training or explore playful physical exercises. Make sure you love what you are doing. Whatever physical activity you choose to practice be fully immersed and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Every attempt is a success and one is better than none. Also make sure you fuel up with nourishing meals.

Rest & Relax: Relax and pick up any hobbies or activities that you enjoy doing but that might have fallen by the wayside during the business of life. Be sure to take the time to rest your body, mind and spirit.

Adjust Your Tone: Try speaking calmly and with a warm tone. This outward expression can be a powerful way to improve the way you both feel and respond to others.

Stick to a Routine: As much as possible, keep your usual life rhythms. Following a routine can help our minds stay focused on what’s most important instead of worrying about the unknown or what’s going to happen next.

Laugh It Off: Try and use your humour to manage the difficulties you’re facing. Laughter in times of adversity can be a surprising source of comfort and strength.

Set a Goal: Setting a goal can help focus the mind on something with deep meaning, instead of focusing on negativity or fear. Choose personal or professional goals that are meaningful to you. The clearer the goal, the clearer the path.

Practice Self-Kindness: Follow a practice of consciously opening your hearts to yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you give in to negativity, despair or anger. Forgive yourself and use each experience as a way to grow further.

Good Relationships

Protect and Nurture Relationships: Make sure to keep the relationships you value in good health. Remember that more important than being in the same space, is moving and growing in the same direction with those you care about.

Keep Your Loved Ones Close: Even if you cannot be physically close, make sure to check in, give warmth and good will to those you. Call your loved ones, family, friends and acquaintances and give positive messages and encouragement. Expressing compassion is one of the best ways to build resiliency and stay connected.

Communicate With Others: Use phones or online communication to keep in touch. Even a simple act like sliding a letter under the door of an elderly neighbour can be a transformative and powerful experience.

Help Others: Multiple studies have found that helping others leads to an increase in our own happiness, so take time to help those in need. Whether it’s picking up groceries for someone who’s unable to make it outside or simply taking the time to check up on someone – the more we help others, the more we nurture ourselves.

Express Your Creativity: Whether your creative outlet is painting, writing, cooking or something else entirely, be sure to take a moment to delve into your own emotions and bring them to life in a unique form of expression.

Dress Up With Joy: Wear a favourite piece of clothing or jewelry – particularly if it has a connection with someone you love or care about. Use it as a touchstone for your own happiness and focus on how it makes you feel wearing it.

Focus on the Presence of Goodness, Joy & Love: In a world full of chaos, anger and fear, simply taking a moment to focus on the kindness, love and compassion being demonstrated by others can be of huge source of comfort. Think of the countless doctors, nurses and health care providers who have dedicated their lives to helping those in need. Seek out stories of inspiration and kindness in dark times. Try to focus on this positivity when you first wake up and right before you go to bed.

There’s no doubt that the current world we’re living in can be a terrifying and overwhelming place. Yet even during a crisis there are countless learning and development opportunities for us and the world around us. We can reframe a crisis as an opportunity to explore the unknown, leading to innovation and improvements in multiple areas. Discover and create something new in your own life. Whether it’s a new belief, a new attitude, a new emotion, a new behavior or a new skill. Everything new can be a skill through practice. Test it, adopt it and grow with it and a new philosophy about yourself and your life will appear before you know it.

Our brains can grow and expand amidst crisis. It is in your power to grow, to evolve and to flourish even in the darkest of times. Don’t be scared to suffer. Instead spread kindness, love and faith!

I am HERE for YOU.

About Author

Alina Butunoi

Alina Butunoi is one of Ottawa's most respected brain training and pain management practitioners. A previous nominee for the Ottawa 40 Under 40 business leaders, she is also a certified Movement Neurology Specialist with Z-Health, a cutting-edge neuro-exercise system that helps improve health, alleviate pain and maximize athletic performance.

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