The last few months have certainly tested our mental stamina and resolve. One person I spoke to told me that COVID is easy for him because he loves to stay at home and not go out. However, I am sure that for most of us staying at home with minimal-to-no going out is a challenging proposition.
I have been working virtually for many years, so I am quite comfortable working in a virtual-mode. However, working solely virtually without physical meetings and interaction with clients or going out of the house has been trying for me too.
Repeated instructions like “Stay at home!”, “Stay in touch with family and friends” and “Stay 6 feet from others” have been ringing in our ears as they mark this period. I want to add another strong recommendation to the list for those of you who want to stay centered, focused, and strong in these challenging times: Stay out of your head!
The conversations that go on inside our head are not innocent, arbitrary or random. Their aim is to keep us contained and ‘out of trouble.’ They achieve that purpose by filling our consciousness with discouraging, gloomy and scary information and warnings.
Each of us has our fears, baggage, and demons from the past. The conversations in our head exploit those to their end. They make us draw disempowering conclusions about situations that seem bad, which leads to disempowering reactive decisions.
It’s no surprise that the media is speaking about a spike in anxiety, depression, and suicide during the COVID months.
It’s not because people have spent too much time at home. It is because they have spent too much time in their head.
Most of us consume way too much TV, news, and social media, and for many, it can also be their primary source of information and knowledge. Both mainstream media and social media – regardless of your political persuasion – have been polluting our minds and stressing us out. Many people believe what they hear and see without questioning it, and can struggle to distinguish between what is real and what is fiction.
This predicament is discouraging and demotivating.
So, how do you stay out of your head?
Simple, be in action!
Being in action is the only alternative to being in our head. Action takes place in the real world.
When you are engaged in any kind of action – be it exercising, drawing, dancing, listening to music, playing an instrument, knitting, reading or communicating/sharing your thoughts and feelings with a friend or family member – you focus outward.
In fact, if you think about it, when you are engaged in action, you stop thinking about your worries and fears. All noise disappears into the background, and your entire attention, focus and consciousness are on what you are doing.
To be clear, I am not suggesting you stop watching TV and/or engaging in social media, this is not necessary or practical, and you wouldn’t do it. I am, however, strongly suggesting that you manage your time to reflect a healthy balance between doing things that throw you into your head (exacerbating your fears, worries, anxieties, etc.) versus the actions that keep you out of your head.
I have found that when I spend most of my days in activities that pull me out of my head and require me to focus outward (activities such as supporting others, writing blogs and articles, and/or playing my classical guitar), it enables me to overcome any fears and anxieties if/when they arise.
Whether you are at home or not, working now or not, I recommend you take on a conscious commitment to spend the majority of your days out of your head.
To that end, make a list of the things you love/like to do or something you could do that would get you out of your head and start doing them.