Reach into the Future

Our lockdown is gradually lifting here in Denmark, and my friends in Israel tell me they’re getting close to normal after a massive vaccination effort. In many places around the world, vaccinations are proceeding and lockdowns are having effect.

What will you do when restrictions are lifted? Think of something you want to do and can’t do now. Close your eyes and imaging yourself involved in that activity. Some people are able to visualize the activity, others can imagine hearing the sounds or feeling the physical sensations. You can use this method to harvest energy from the future to re-energize yourself while we all wait for the things we can’t do now.

Spring is Coming

Winter is drawing to a close, and spring is approaching. Here in Denmark, the days are getting longer and the first early spring flowers are breaking out of the ground. This is a time for preparing. What will you be doing this year? If you haven’t set a few goals for 2021, now is a good time to do it. And find some easy first steps you can do to start you journey towards your goal. It can be something really simple like looking up the information you need on the internet. Count that as progress towards your goal. Spring is coming.

Meetup: Overcoming the Effects of Bullying

I host an online meetup about overcoming the effects of bullying today at 7PM CET. Being bullied leaves scars that can take many years to heal, and the current situation can re-activate trauma from our past. Join me to hear about the three steps you can take today to overcome your bullying experience and move forward in your life. Sign up here:

Look for the Good News

When we cooperate, we are capable of incredible things. At the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic, experts expected it would take 3 or 4 years before we had a vaccine, but several teams have managed to create vaccines in record time.

Yesterday saw a Nasa spacecraft land on Mars. If you haven’t seen the illustrations of how it was done, I can recommend looking it up. It was an amazing feat of engineering involving heat shields, parachutes, and a hovering “sky crane” that slowly lowered the huge one-ton robot onto the surface of Mars.

This weekend, make a decision to read only positive news and stories. Simply scroll past the bad news. You won’t miss anything. If it is really important, you will see it again on Monday. Your weekend should be a time for recovery and re-energizing. To achieve that, feed your mind with all the good stories out there.

Uses for Your Bed

You should only use your bed for two things, and working isn’t one of them. Even if you your partner has already occupied the kitchen table for their important zoom meeting, find someplace else. It might feel nice and cosy to cuddle under your blanket in bed with your laptop, but don’t do it.

Firstly, the ergonomics of sitting in bed are horrible. Everything is too soft and you are unable to sit with a straight spine. Secondly, you don’t want to associate your bed with working. If you do, you are setting yourself up for sleep problems. (And by the way, don’t watch TV in bed, either.)

Working with people in all kinds of situations, many of them trauma victims, I usually don’t give strict guidelines. But this is one of the few. Don’t ever work in bed.

You Have Options

In comparison with my American friends in Texas and elsewhere who are freezing without power, I have it easy. Even though our gas boiler just stopped, we have a fireplace to heat our home and we still have electrical power.

When you are faced with an unexpected problem, take a moment to think about your options. If your normal heating is out, do you have alternative heating sources? Do you have a cottage with a fire-burning stove? Do you have an RV heated with propane? Can you stay with someone who does have heating? Does your community provide emergency shelter for people without heating?

The most important thing you can do to improve your life is to break the chain between an event and an automatic response. You always have options.

Celebrate Pancake Day

Remember to celebrate. For example, today you can celebrate International Pancake Day. That’s not something just dreamt up by the marketing department in a company that sells pancake mix. It comes from the Christian liturgy, where this day is called Shrove Tuesday and is the last day before the fasting period of Lent. Because you were not allowed fat and sugar during Lent, you had a feast on the day before where you used up all the good stuff, for example by making pancakes. This day is also called Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) for the same reason.

In times like these, it is important to find reasons to celebrate. If you don’t actively act against it, lockdowns and other bad news will affect your mood. But it is completely within your power to lift your spirit by deciding to celebrate something. Like pancake day.

Make Time for Two Hours Outside

Were you outdoors for a walk this weekend? The research is piling up showing that spending time outside in natural surroundings is associated with lower levels of stress hormones, less anxiety, less depression and even improved cognitive ability.

A children’s hospital in the US has a question on their discharge questionnaire: Does the child have access to outdoors and green spaces? If not, they are offered to take part in a nature program. Clinical trials show that this program increases the children’s health and decreases the parents’ stress levels.

Spending two hours per week walking in nature gives a significant improvement in health and subjective well-being. If you like numbers, a study shows that the effect increases with more time outside, reaching the maximum at 5 hours outdoors per week. That half an hour on workdays and Saturday, and one two-hour walk on Sunday. For everyone without a significant mobility impairment, that is completely achievable.

Make sure you get your two hours outside every week. That gives you the energy to work on anything else you need to change in your life.

Valentine’s Day

If you have a partner and can’t go out for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner on Sunday, make one yourself. Light some candles, find the placemats and cloth napkins, the nice wine glasses and the best plates. Even if you’re not a great chef, establish a great setting. It does make a difference.

Help Someone

To help yourself, find someone else to help. Helping others is a deep human urge and has been with us since humans first banded together to help and protect each other. When you are able to help someone, the brain releases dopamine which is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good.

There are many ways to helping others. If nothing comes to mind for you, simply tell yourself that you are looking for someone to help. That primes your brain to look for opportunities to contribute. Even if the pandemic prevents us from meeting in person, you can answer questions online, or shovel snow for your neighbor, or do other physical tasks that don’t require proximity.

Two kids in the US decided to show their appreciation for their local medical professionals. They went to the parking lot of a local hospital after a recent snowstorm and cleaned the snow from people’s cars. There are lots of ways to help if you look for them.