Top 10 Mental Health Benefits of Covid-19

Top 10 Mental Health Benefits of Covid-19

 

For the past month, we have been inundated with stories and news briefings of how this pandemic has impacted our world like no other. It’s killed thousands of individuals, ruined global finances, and severely slashed millions of jobs.  Could there be benefits to this catastrophe, particularly in regards to our mental health?

 

  1. Our connection to our loved ones have deepened.

 

Most of us are limited to the confines of our home, and no longer have the daily interactions of our co-workers and friends. People have developed a longing to converse with family members or old friends outside written form, and have actually picked up the phone, facetime, or zoom meetings.   Prior to this, it seemed as if conversing aloud appeared antiquated.  Only our fingers have been communicating.  But we are yearning to hear each other’s voices, and therefore conversations have become more textured and layered.

 

  1. We are allowed to be bored and therefore are reconnecting with our hobbies and creativity.

When have you had this much free time that was not full of activities or holiday chores and obligations?  After binge watching on television shows and films, some of us are flourishing in our cooking and baking skills.  Others are finding creativity in crafting masks for themselves and those in need. We also are pushing our physical and mental limitations by learning the latest tik tok choreography.

 

  1. Minimizing the busy have forced us to sit with ourselves, and befriend the person in the mirror.

Many times we avoid the darkness in our hearts or stay busy to distance us from the dissatisfactions with life.  The noise keeps us from hearing what is really there. Now the distractions have decreased, we can tune into who we really are. Initially we may have sat with the depression and anxiety that was there, but with time those clouds may have passed. Some of us have been able to forgive and heal old wounds and accept where we are in our lives.

 

  1. Consumerism as a form of distraction has decreased, reminding us what is essential in our lives.

Due to the inability to leave our homes or the fact that our paychecks are constricted, we are buying less stuff.  We are also finally home long enough to use the stuff that is in our homes, and see what is necessary in our lives is minimal.

 

  1. Gratitude is prominent for the smallest daily bits of wonder that have entered our lives.

-We get bursts of joy to feel the sun shine on our faces through the windows or belly filled laughter after sharing a memory or old photo with a friend. We find contentment in being able to pet our dogs or cats as they snuggle next to us or actually find pleasure in a comforting dessert we have prepared.

 

  1. Being given the permission to do nothing has freed us from the guilt of producing, consuming, or eliminating FOMO.

The weight of social comparison has been limited. Nobody is going on expensive vacations, socializing at amazing parties, or taking selfies in front of jaw-dropping backdrops.  We are all socially isolating and quarantining ourselves at home.  Wishing to be somewhere other than where you currently are is futile, and we understand this.

 

  1. We have been given the space to think about what we truly value and how we want to live the remainder of our lives.

-There is an understanding this will end, the simple question is when.  Many of us have been given telework options, and are navigating how we can negotiate this with our bosses when this is over.  Perhaps there is deep dissatisfaction in your field, now is the time to explore a different type of job, or even the city you live. We may desire to live closer to our friends and family, or give up the dream of living in the big city to spend our money more strategically.

 

  1. We have witnessed the ways we are dependent on each other and developed an appreciation for all forms of profession.

Never have I seen people so grateful for those in the medical world, grocery store clerks, or teachers.   People have verbalized their praise for these everyday heroes, who are now getting recognized with applause, songs, and artwork. It has been beautiful to see the smiles of appreciation and words of affirmation for all of us at this time.

 

  1. There has been a universal experience we have undergone simultaneously, which has the potential to always connect us.

Covid-19 have known no boundaries.  It has hit all countries, level of class, age and we are in this together.  We will all have the ability to look at this adversity we collectively experience, and find solidarity in our struggle.  We have one joint enemy in the coronavirus, and it’s ideally uniting us.

 

  1. We have found that even in isolation we can be free.

Confinement or freedom is found in our minds. You have the key to unlock the prison doors.   By not having to be a typical consumer, busy-body, or one upper, you have the time, space, and potential to begin to craft the life you want post Covid-19.

 

Upon curating this top 10 list, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the benefits listed are similar to realizations we may have upon attending a silent retreat. When distractions are removed, there is no option but to sit with ourselves and take stock of our lives.  There is no escaping you and the time limited container you are put under. Through stillness we can begin to explore, develop, and refine the essentials in our lives.  We can find gratitude and joy in the tiny moments that weave in and out of our days, and much of what we have been endlessly seeking already exists within the confines of our home and ourselves.shutterstock_1679393290

Tik Tok Our Covid Lindy Hop

Swing dance boomed onto the Harlem dance floors in the 1930s and 1940s.  In the midst of the Depression, this joyous dance was born. People needed an escape from their lives, and swing dance, particularly the lindy hop, was the cure.  This is what I learned from re-watching the documentary Alive and Kicking recently. I began to question is Tik Tok today’s version of the lindy hop?

 

Lindy Hop brought communities together during the war. Racial segregation was still predominant throughout the world in the 1930s, but the Savoy Club in Harlem allowed both blacks and whites to literally and metaphorically enter through the same door.  The popularity of jazz musicians such as Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong ignited numerous people to want to take up this dance.  Hollywood films began featuring explosions of this new way of expressing joy, as one dancer would throw and catch his dance partner with glee. Watching clips of these old films is exhilarating, and you could not help but want to emulate the moves of Frank Manning or Norma Miller.

 

Parallel to this is Tik Tok, although it was created in 2017, it’s having a monumental boost in 2020 with Covid-19.  We are stuck in our homes socially isolated and quarantining ourselves for weeks at a time.  Thousands of us are feeling sadness for those lost or ill, worry for our health and that of our family’s, fear for our financial situations, and panic for toilet paper.  Our ways to cope are limited due to confinement and limited funds.  Some people are mindlessly binge watching old episodes of The Office or the new addiction of Tiger King.  We want to escape our realities. We scroll through Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram but now there’s Tik Tok.  Fifteen seconds capture comedic reliefs, impersonations, and dance challenges.  This short capacity of fifteen seconds is just long enough for us to hold our limited attention span.  We watch people around the world partake in a contagious form of play.  After watching enough Tik Tok videos, and having nothing but free time, one can’t help but ask “Why not?”

 

And with that thought, the challenge is accepted. Before you know it, you are making your first tik tok video.  It may seem silly to try to deconstruct the choreography of Savage, Ahi, or Oh Nanana, but everything seems silly right now.  We are facing an unprecedented global pandemic and yet cannot escape our homes to seek solace.  Tik Tok has given permission to play, dance, and mesmerize each other in a virtual way. Parents and caregivers who may never have time for their children due to the busy-ness of work, may opt to tik tok their love out with the Grandpa Challenge.  An entire family may learn the moves to The Weekend’s Blinding Light to satisfy the dream of one member’s aspiration of seconds of fame.

 

 

The avenue of tik tok is temporarily connecting us, as we watch in our homes, focus on learning dance routines with others, and share them with the world.  We are not creating these videos to try to be the best.  There is no prize to be won.  We are creating videos to spark joy in ourselves and others.

 

When was the last time you learned a choreographed piece to be performed? For many of us it was a grade school talent show.  Immersing and repeating new moves within our body fires up our brain in a different way.  It stimulates new neural pathways, as we repeat each movement over and over again, maybe for days as we knock down that killer routine.  The monotony of our days of vegging out on the couch are broken.  We are embarking on a new adventure. We may not be able to travel to distant lands, but our bodies can take the shape of new landscapes.  And we are doing this collectively.

 

Just like people observed the basics of lindy hop that were being formed in the 1930s, they added their own new twists.  The basic moves offer the foundation, but the expression in each of our bodies is so unique.  The contagion of dance overtook their souls and right now it’s overtaking ours.

 

Beauty can be born in the time of great despair. The question to ask ourselves is that when the world returns to normal, and we enter our offices, shops, and restaurants again will we remember these bursts of creativity that were born out of boredom?  Can we sustain the momentary joy that was felt?

 

Joseph Campbell once said “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”  We don’t know when this will end, but in the meantime why not find solace in tik tok? May you and your loved ones dance out your fears, worries, and tears.  And may we remember to dance collectively after the isolation ends.

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Good News for a Change

 

“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”-Joseph Campbell

What a crazy world we are all living in today, but it’s a collective craziness.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the non-stop news updates of the status of the coronavirus in the world, country, or our hometown.  As we continue to self-isolate and quarantine, it’s a sigh of relief to get a boost of good news. I love this and had to share 🙂 Stay well.

Mystical Myss Experience

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a Caroline Myss workshop for the second time in ten years.  She’s a Medical Intuitive Healer, Mystic, NY Times Bestselling Author, and change agent.  When you attend events like these with living sages, it’s expected the audience will have an endless amount of questions.  They are not about personal inquisitions on her life, or her body of work, but they are specific ones how the individual seeking answers can navigate this particular phase of their life.  They desperately were seeking her advice, and not wanting to let go of the microphone until they felt solace in the response.  Themes ranged from wanting a romantic partnership, life purpose, burnout, to vacillating with having the feeling of vengeance and wanting to transcend to a higher level of being, the ego, identity or soul struggle of one wanting to undergo a sexual transition, and the dilemma of whether to protest or how to hold being political frustration with grace.

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Although her talk was an all day workshop, the numerous questions kept her from revealing the work I was craving to be divulged.  I noticed an inner annoyance burning when the questions continued.   There wasn’t enough time to hear the depth of Myss’ wisdom.  But I gently reminded myself that the questions that were asked would hopefully serve as wealth for the entire audience.  We were leaning on each word she said, as we eagerly took notes. (Note the man in the image included here).  At times tiredness ensued, because of the vast wealth of information needed to be digested.  She is a living yoda.  So many of us wish this wisdom existed within the layers of our family.  We want to seek answers from those in our familial lineage, but at times this isn’t available.  These individuals may no longer exist on this plane, or never sought the depths of spiritual wisdom this woman in front of us contains.  Who doesn’t want guidance from a American Yoda?

 

One aspect that was repeated throughout the talk was the recognition of our interconnectivity.  She stated that our bodies were microearths.  What affects one cell, affects them all.  And so is us for humanity.  As one individual grows, so do us all. We are co-creating our lives, not just with God/Universal Energy, but all of us are impacting each other.

 

Epidemics are examples of us co-creating the world together. Myss gave an example that polio developed and aroise in America post the Great Depression.  “We said we were economically crippled and elected a president in a wheelchair.    Post World War II things shifted.  There was an economic boom, and “we were on our feet again.”  The coronavirus was mentioned as well.  This “collective illness” is a response of our “shadow” nature, exemplifying the fear we have in each other and the boundaries we have felt are needed.  The worst of ourselves that have been arising with wanting to promote nationalism through Brexit or the USA/Mexican wall, and other various examples has resulted in this. Now how are we dealing with the coronavirus?  People are further having to isolate and quarantine themselves.  “The virus is the last great effort to create boundaries, but the reality is there are no more boundaries.  The disease is airbourne.”  It was suggested that we need to understand that as a society that we are part of one living breathing creature. We are one body and must begin seeking to treat each other in this way. “No nation has sovereign rights, every nation must be treated equal, as an essential part of the whole.”

 

Hearing this stirred the audience up.  We were hungry for answers that we try to find in water cooler conversations or from news outlets.  People are hyping up the fear factor, but what about the deeper meaning behind the development of this.  Instead of viewing how to further travel or infected individuals, why not explore how we can grow as a society from this illness?

 

Hearing the wisdom from Caroline Myss was comforting.   It further validated the spiritual growth and awakening that is arising globally.  She also reminded the audience to eliminate our ego driven striving for success, knowledge, improvement.  Know that what you are choosing to learn about health and healing is not for your benefit, but for the benefit of all.

 

 

One small way we can begin to become more aware of our co-creativity is to be mindful of the words and phrases we say to ourselves.  Know that every thought is a prayer.  “Don’t ever say this is making me sick” or wake up and repeat “what a miserable day it appears to be.  Seek gratitude, appreciation, and curiosity in the small wonders of the world.  Choose to see a miracle everyday.  Know that you are never alone.  In moments of struggle, seek guidance from the assistance of grace.  It’s always within reach if one is willing to surrender to this.

What do you do and other conversations

I wanted to share a recent episode from my new podcast.  We always seem to ask each other upon meeting, “what do you do?”  But how do you really want to respond?  Wouldn’t it be great if we opted to respond with all the things we take joy in today?  For me this today would be: Dance, cuddle with my dogs, drink lattes slowly, soak in conversations about spirituality and archetypes, binge on inspirational podcasts and books, and wanderlust. how do you respond?

I’ve Got a Golden Ticket

Remember the Willie Wonka prize all longed for: A Golden Ticket to go to Wonka Land.  It was a land beyond imagination, full of oompa lumpas, endless supplies of candies, a chocolate river, everlasting gobstoppers, and magic?  In the film only a dozen or so people will able to secure a golden ticket.  But I want to tell you right now, you have a golden ticket to Travel the World!

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You are living in a time and place when access to the world is easy and available.  I am not overly opinionated on loads of topics, but travel is one of them. Travel the world, see things we have only read about in the bible, visit the lands that inspired fairy tales, or only visited in dreams.  Why should these locations just be reserved as backdrops for films or novels, you can be a character in your own movie.  Get a passport and start now!

 

I am in Jordan as I write this, never did I think I would end up here or dream of here.  But the more places you go, the more you are intrigued to step your foot in unexplored terrain.  And I have such gratitude for that. Don’t let fear keep you from seeing the world.

 

At the hotel I am staying in, I saw a Filipina waitress, and I thought “wow I have made it.”  I am travelling the world non-stop in a field and job, that’s allowed me the salary and flexibility to explore.  This waitress was creating a new life for herself and all whom comes afger her.

 

In reality it wasn’t me that made it alone.  My parents, grandparents, and my biological lineage for me brought me to a land of opportunity.  My mom and grandmother (and all before her on that side) were immigrants from the Philippines, and on my father’s side great-grandparents also were immigrants Poland and Slovakia.  We have golden tickets as we are living the dreams of our ancestors.  Not only that, we are living the dreams of our human ancestors.

 

Never was there a time that connects us more in humanity, we are all recipients of the hard work of those that came before us. Technology, computers, internet, the ease of cell phones, personal international flights, easy access to be our own travel guides.  Why not take advantage of this?  Get out of your backyard and see the fruit that’s been planted and picked for you. It would be a waste to let the fruit rot and not experience what the world has in store for you.  Take the Golden Ticket, you are guaranteed entrance in Wonderland.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Travel Identity

Who are we when we travel?  Or who do we aspire to be?  At 40 years old, I want to look like a secure confident traveler.  My attire stretches to be one that shows wealth (although not too much that I am a target), simplicity, and an easy-going nature.  I feel my brown skins morphs me into fitting into any ambiguous ethnic culture that may exist in that society.  It doesn’t scream American, particularly when I am alone and don’t open my mouth.  But despite all this, when I get to the bathroom airport, after the long drive, dropping off my vehicle, checking in, and getting through security, I look in the mirror.  I still look like a 20 something backpacker.  I don’t mean to, but this is what I portray.

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Discontent overwhelms me.  It’s the crazy print backpack I’m carrying and the camel hat.   Immediately I think what can I buy at the airport to disguise the free flowing wanderluster that wants to show off.  I want to look more business casual cool, not a free thinking hippie.  I start to look at other travelers, how do they walk around so light?  Checked in luggage, solely bringing underwear on the trip with one change of clothes?  Or I start to wonder if I can emulate the cool passenger with a tiny book bag over one shoulder.  After I gaze through a luggage shop debating a purchase, I slow down and remind myself of the goal I had set the past year of beginning to live a life of minimalism.  I can’t just purchase things to resolve situations or apparent problems.  Buying doesn’t solve anything, although we think it does.

 

You would think that after being an avid traveler, this would be a skill I would have conquered.  But no. Instead of trying to exude an image of elite prestige, embrace the youthfulness in me that still has the energy to go on crazy adventure solo trips with a rolling carry on and backpack on both shoulders.  Know that being a writer and now podcaster, I must travel around with books, a journal, laptop, and microphone to capture moments of inspiration.

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Our appearance at the airport is one tiny piece of the trip.  Your journey consists of so much more.  Reflect on your intentions for this excursion.  What do you hope to gain?  How do you want to be?  Dig deeper than what you see in the mirror.  And smile back at the image you see, whatever it may be.

 

“Live with no excuses.  Travel with no regrets.” –Oscar Wilde

My New Podcast: Golden Mirror

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If I was to ask you what is the one internal drive that unites us all as humans, how would you respond?  What do you long for?  What do you want?

Underneath the responses of more finances, the perfect romantic partner, health, a dream job, a sweet job, an exciting international adventure is one threaded emotion.  We want to be happy.  We think all of these external aspects will bring us happiness, that’s why we fill our time trying to attain more.  We strive for more education and experience to get a better job, we date loads of people on tinder hoping we find “the one”, or we try to get as many stamps on our passport to feel fulfilled.  Some of us may actually achieve these aspirations, or all of them.  And we feel happy, but how long does it last for? Minutes? Days? Weeks?  Perhaps, but then we’re onto the next thing.

Or on the other hand, some of us may give up the notion of ever being happy and we succumb to numbness.  We may opt out of actively participating in the world by remaining stagnant and passive on the couch.  We may binge on shows on streaming networks, drink or eat our worries away.  Some may opt for drugs or a revolving door of sexual partners. If we won’t ever be happy, we may at least minimize our pain and suffering.

Many of us may are realizing that happiness cannot be sustained through external factors, and avoiding suffering through numbing does not equate with living.  Holding these two dichotomies in our hand, how do we navigate through life?

Numerous spiritual traditions remind us that the answer lies within.

I attended a meditation during New Years Eve at Kadampa Medtiation Center in New York City.  The instructor shared with us that when we wish others a Happy New Year, we aren’t wishing other people to attain all their desires for the year.  Getting everything you want isn’t reality.  What we are really wishing people for is happiness, which is a peaceful heart and mind that can navigate all that arises in our lives throughout the next 12 months.  He reminded us of the popular Buddhist metaphor shared that we are all golden nuggets that are covered in dirt.  Our essential being is pure and radiant, but we forget this and are stuck in our sorrows and stories.  Can we rub off the dirt and remember the wealth of abundance that is always in existence if you turn towards it?

I found this dharma talk so inspirational, that it has served as a summary of my mission statement for the year and perhaps my life.  How can I remind people the gold that exists within not without?  And it’s available to all of us, regardless of the circumstances currently going on in your life.  True contentment is here for you whether you are newly engaged, divorced, landed a dream job, stuck in a dead end job, or are laid off.   And so the podcast Golden Mirror is born.  Stay tuned as I share weekly tips and remind you how precious and powerful you really are.

 

Stopping Small Talk in 2020

I recently listened to a Jay Shetty podcast (link below), in which it was discussed how small talk can not just hinder our relationships with others but also ourselves.  When we talk about superficial expected topics such as the weather, your mood, or what you do as a profession, our responses are rote.  In some ways, we may respond in a robotic fashion.  We have these conversations all the time, and therefore the answers are pre-planned.  “I’m fine.” “The weather is miserable.” We do not allow the space for spontaneous genuine answers to occur.

 

During the podcast Shetty encouraged us to remove the following questions from our “Go To” conversation playlist.  These are:

 

  • What do you do?
  • Where do you live? Vs where did you grew up (more interesting)?
  • Any question about the weather
  • How’s your journey here?

 

 

Jay shared part of his experience in attending a recent conference in Montana, sponsored by Irrational Labs.  Thought leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, psychologists, and celebrities attended this event, and small talk was illegal.  This included the questions above, and many more.  What was shared was cards containing more personal questions, as a way to deeper connect with those around them. What was discovered is deeper friendships formed at a quicker pace.

 

These 9 questions are just samples of ways to intensify talk more quickly.

 

9 questions to ask 

 

  1. What was the last lie you told, would u do it again ?
  2. If your younger self met you today, what would make them happy and sad about you today ?
  3. What situations make you feel awkward and why?
  4. What did you buy recently that you now regret?
  5. Have you ever been to jail? Arrested?
  6. What do you think makes a person most attractive ? How are you on that scale?
  7. If you really really really knew me you would know that ——-
  8. What do you fight about most in romantic relationships ?
  9. What would you talk about most in a one hour therapy session?

 

As I listened to the podcast, I took notes and opted to share them with my father and later two close friends.  Automatically from sharing the intent behind these questions and reading aloud only one question, they all wanted the list of questions sent to them. They were excited for themselves to reflect on them and to share them with their loved ones.  It was noted that when we ask deeper questions of others, we are also asking deeper questions of ourselves.

 

As a psychologist, I love this is being done.  I’ve always loved The Book of Questions or any variation of that. It’s a heart warming relief to see the importance of conversation being shared and recognized.  When we answer these questions with ourselves and others, it opens the potential for vulnerability to form.  If the space is provided and we opt in to be vulnerable with others, true authentic connection is created.

 

If you are actually interested in asking deeper questions, pause and explore what those could be.  Perhaps create your own list, or if you are interested Irrational Labs are selling these at this link  https://irrationallabs.org/no-small-talk/. I don’t have any affiliate marketing, but I just wanted to share.

 

The link to the podcast is below:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/on-purpose-with-jay-shetty/id1450994021?i=1000459494347

10,000 Joys and 10,000 Sorrows In NYC on NYE

According to Buddhist philosophy our lives are filled with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows.

10,000 joys and sorrows seem to be a perpetual theme throughout the past two weeks I have spent visiting friends and family.  There have been amazing accomplishments I have witnessed or devastating difficulties that my loved ones are experiencing, but the reality is we are prone to all of this.  That which brings us joy also brings us sorrow due to our attachments. 

For example, today I was magically stopped on my route to see the Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller Center.  A staff worker in front of the theater asked if I was free right at that moment. I concurred, and I was offered tickets to the Rockettes show.  Before I could even process what was going on, I was inside witnessing the annual holiday special.  I wanted to cry from joy at how beautiful magical moments of manifestation can be.  I didn’t have time to thank the stranger who gave me this xmas gift.

High on this but having to leave early to check out of my hotel and into another, I discovered that the Jivamukti Yoga Meditation I had planned my trip around was cancelled (and the center closed) without my knowledge.  All my plans for the delightful evening was taken away.

Joy and Sorrow occurred almost simultaneously together. And so this is life.

It’s inevitable that our lives will balance both of the in our hands.   The question remains what do we hold onto? Our joy? Our sorrow? Both? Or do we let go of it all and just welcome whatever is right in front of us.

We may notice people in our lives who cling to their accomplishments.  It seems as if when they introduce their name they introduce their bank accounts and professions.  Or some people may opt to live their glory days of being an all-star varsity football player 20 years ago (I can say this because my hometown holds the Pro-Football Hall of Fame).  Although we may be proud of those accomplishments, they do not need to define us.

But on the other hand, neither does our losses.  Many people may have experienced trauma, grief, or pain and want to be identified with that sorrow.  Yes, it’s true these difficult occurrunces must be given room to heal, but for how many years must we carry the pain with us.  If we fill our lives with sorrow, there is not space to appreciate the beauty that is bestowed in front of you today.

As we enter the new year, what are we opting to bring from 2019 into 2020? Do we start fresh? Bring in baggage or bragging? How do you want your 2020 to be? The choice is yours.

 

(In front of my hotel)

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one. – Brad Paisley

 

 

 

 

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