Zoom zoom zoom! Yes, it would be fantastic if you were zooming off on a vacation right now, but for many of us, that word today is tied to work, school, meetings, therapy, and a whole new lifestyle.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to adapt to a new (hopefully temporary) norm. Before March, the idea of closed gyms and restaurants, working from the kitchen, and therapy sessions in our bedrooms would have been unthinkable. Spring was in the air, life was popping out of the ground, and vacation plans were being made. Through it all, we came together and adapted. We stayed in to protect those most vulnerable and masked up as a preventative measure if we needed to leave the house. Still, as it inevitably does, the stress followed.
With everyone at home, our limits are being tested. Alone time during our commutes may have been taken for granted and sharing small spaces for many is proving to be difficult. Private therapy sessions are now having to be held in closets or basements with lowered voices, while carrying the uncertainty of children, relatives, and spouses lurking nearby with open ears. Even some court cases are being tried through the computer! Students are missing important social interactions necessary for growth with many classroom doors opened only online. Of course, some of us with a more introverted constitution are making the most of this quieter life.
For those of us struggling with this new, strange lifestyle, we must keep in mind that we are all in it together. The question now is, how can we stay happy and healthy as we navigate through this crisis? A great place to start is within ourselves. The way we approach anything begins with our outlook. How do I see this situation? How can I stay positive in such a seemingly foreign and yet familiar environment? Many of us have heard the phrase, you are what you think or you are what you believe, and the recognition of this fact can lead you to the understanding of a deeper truth. We have the ability within ourselves to create a positive, thriving internal environment which will then translate to the outer world. We can use this opportunity to better ourselves, those around us, our communities, and beyond.
How do we begin creating a positive self? Let’s start with acceptance. Instead of fighting those things we do not have control over, we can learn to adapt and make the best of the situation. Watch your mind and try to see the thoughts and judgments you make. Instead of thinking, “this pandemic is ruining my social life” or “I’m sick of not being able to meet my friends for pizza”, we can transform it into something like, “this pandemic is an unfortunate situation but I will use it to develop compassion for those most affected. There are always others who are struggling, and I am no different. I will see this life as a precious gift with unlimited potential for growth and change”. This is a great way to start a daily mindfulness practice. Meditation, at least in the beginning, is not about not thinking. It is creating space in your mind to recognize the unending stream of thoughts, and then transforming them from neutral or negative to helpful.
Sometimes however, this may not be enough. Many of us will need some outside help, especially after all that pizza! Diet and lifestyle play an enormous role in our mental and physical health. Working at home can be hard on our backs and a new, mostly sedentary lifestyle can cause us to gain weight and lose motivation to get out and exercise. While we still have some sun and warm(ish) weather, now is the perfect time to get moving. Try taking a break every hour or so even if it’s just to walk around the house.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine will also help to bring your body back into balance. With such big changes in our day to day routines, most of us are bound to have slipped up a little and could use some help getting back on track. East Asian medicine is a holistic approach to health focused on treating underlying patterns and root causes to make sure you are not just taking medication for the rest of your lives. In this approach, your body is gently pushed to its healthiest, happiest, most reliable self, without suffering the side effects of some other treatments. Many people who start receiving acupuncture are pleasantly surprised to see the stress or pain they’ve been dealing with for years was in fact not something they would have to manage the rest of their lives.
So, in these changing, uncertain times, you can either mope around and wait for things to get better, or you can take initiative and do it yourself. My advice – ditch the “poor me” mentality. Go out for a walk, cook something new, read The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. Embrace this precious life and help someone who can’t help themselves. Go try acupuncture. I bet afterwards you’ll be asking yourself why you waited so long.
About the Author
Eric Schrock, L.Ac, MSTOM is a graduate of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago, one of the leading schools for acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine in the United States. This four year program provided him with the necessary training to treat a wide variety of imbalances including pain, insomnia, digestive concerns, menstrual irregularities, and many others using acupuncture, herbal medicine, and lifestyle recommendations leading his patients to a healthier, more balanced life.
Eric began his passion to help others in 2011 when he witnessed a powerful event that lead him to change his lifestyle and outlook on being. He began studying Buddhist meditation and decided to volunteer for a year in Kenya. Here he worked with community development groups teaching in primary schools and providing computer training to local adults.
Wanting to do more when he returned, Eric became interested in Chinese medicine. After receiving multiple successful acupuncture sessions, he began researching the wide scope of possibilities this medicine has to offer. Without hesitation, Eric then committed the next four years of his life to study. Since then, he went on to help thousands of people around the world working on cruise ships before he made his way back to land.
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