Now more than ever, people are looking to lifestyle solutions to improve their quality of living. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everyone’s lives, for both better and worse.
One of the positive side effects in times of crisis is the re-evaluation of one’s life; what’s working and what’s not. The pressure brought on by massive change that’s beyond your control can help you make both major and minor shifts in lifestyle.
If there’s one thing you focus on during this time of change, focus on cultivating a strong and positive mindset. Mindset will be the filter that you evaluate everything else through and is what sets people up for success or failure, depending on a person’s perspective. Here are some powerful and simple ways to cultivate a positive mindset, no matter what challenges you’re facing.
Create a New Habit
The human mind loves consistency and routines, so take this opportunity to create a new routine in your day-to-day life that will turn into a habit. My suggestion is to do something uplifting, not something that you think you should be doing. As an example, one of my daily routines is to have a cup of morning tea. Tea does have some amazing health and mood-boosting benefits, but it’s also a mode of self-care and “me time” when I don’t have to think about anything unwelcome.
In order to solidify a new habit, consistency is key. Pick your new activity and try to do it at the same time each day. How long it takes for something to become a habit depends on a few factors, but mostly how emotionally connected you are to it and how many sensory perceptions (smell, taste, sight, touch, hearing) are connected to it. Psychotherapist Jodi Aman says: “Neurons trigger certain pathways for different emotions attached to experiences and behaviors (habits). When they frequent the same path due to habit, that pathway becomes efficient.” Basically, when you’re able to connect more sensory perceptions to an experience, it becomes deeply ingrained in the mind quicker, helping your brain to form new neural connections.
Avoid Processed and Diet Foods
You probably know that what you eat can boost your mood and overall well-being, but did you know your mood and mindset can be negatively affected if you eat processed foods and diet products?
Instead of grabbing that diet soda, try some tea, water, or coffee instead. Diet products contain sugar replacements like aspartame, and aspartame tricks your brain into thinking it’s going to get a reward (aka, a dopamine hit) because of the sweet taste. Not only does the brain not get its reward, but aspartame also inhibits neurotransmitters and hormones like dopamine and serotonin which can wreak havoc on your mood and mindset, fuel cravings, and bring about feelings of anxiety and depression.
Many of the chemical additives, preservatives, and colorings in processed foods have similar effects on mood, and can also contribute to a host of health problems including tumors, hyperactivity, weight gain, cancer, and more.
Aromatherapy and Fresh Air
The sense of smell is one of the most powerful and primordial sensory perceptions we have. Smell triggers the limbic system, which scientists regard as the most primal part of our brain. The limbic system is closely linked to memory, mood, emotions, and behavior, as well as our basic instincts. Another interesting fact is that without smell, you would not be able to distinguish taste (as we’ve seen all too well with COVID-19).
Try adding some aromatherapy or essential oils into your day. Lavender is great for reducing stress, increasing calmness, and relaxing. Rose, jasmine, and bergamot are known to improve mood. An easy way to do this is with an oil diffuser or using high-grade oils that you can apply to your skin directly, and wear them as a fragrance. The good mood these promote can have a direct positive impact on your mindset and behavior.
You’ll also want to avoid bad smells as much as possible, and this includes your stuffy house or apartment. While you may not describe your home as bad-smelling per-se, it’s likely not fresh either. It’s well known that air quality in a house or apartment is much worse than outdoors, and this can contribute to getting ill, or just not feeling healthy in general. So consider opening a window and airing out your home, or getting some fresh air, keeping social distancing in mind. Think about how good you feel when you step outside and take that breath of fresh air. The more you can use your sense of smell and breathe to your advantage, the better.
Thanks to the limbic system’s direct impact on mindset and mood, there’s no effort required to make a positive shift; just take time to smell the roses.
Jaya Jaya Myra is a wellness lifestyle expert and go-to media expert on mind-body wellness, stress management, mindfulness, food for mood, and natural, healthy living. She’s a best-selling author, TEDx and motivational speaker, and creator of The WELL Method for purpose-filled healthy living. Visit www.JayaJayaMyra.com.