ARTICLE | POSITIVE THINKING DURING A PANDEMIC | by Orjan Pettersen
’Tough times. Gym’s closed. So is my dojo. Can’t see my training partners and my routines are all being messed up’.
As countries across the world are impacted by the COVID-19 virus and under various degrees of social distancing restrictions and lockdowns, the public health limitations affect the martial art and self defence community’s ability to train effectively and act together socially.
The inability to either practice in the usual classes or personal training being made more difficult, with the added ingredient that many are under a social confinement at home, some will feel the impact not just on their physical health, but also on their psychological welfare.
The latter is as important as the former and the old adage ‘you are what you think’ is particularly relevant during these testing times.
Let’s look at some different perspectives to take. Think of these as a polar opposite view to cement in your mind if negative thoughts emerge.
‘I’m stuck at home’.
No, switch the mindset. ‘I’m safe in my home. I can spend valuable time with my family. I get to know them even better. I can dedicate effort to my hobbies. I can work on my own development, maybe reading more or enjoying the most important people in my life’.
‘I will catch the virus’.
That’s not a certainty, indeed if you play it right, maybe not even a probability. ‘I will self-isolate and look after myself. I’ll wash my hands and take care of home hygiene. I’ll follow expert advice and when I go out, if I must, I’ll follow guidance on how to minimise my risk. I’ll stay away from people to manage my welfare. I’ll walk or cycle instead of public transport.’
‘I will run out of food or essential items during this time’.
Although stockpiling of food and essential items have been a small issue in some countries, this is not generally an issue at this stage, nor is it expected to emerge. If you worry about it, build up a sensible food supply of longer date items. Think: ‘I have what I need now, stop worrying. I’ll eat sensibly and to my calorific needs to maintain my health and wellness. The rest is for tomorrow. I have prepared for this’.
‘Everything is shutting down and I’m worried’.
It’s understandable to be concerned when parts of the economy closes down and retail and purchasing, leisure or entertainment opportunities restrict themselves. Again, it’s not to worry about. ‘I know that most important places are still open, Supermarkets, medical centres, pharmacies, grocery stores and life-essential services are still available’. This is your positive mindset speaking. Listen to it.
‘I can’t get to my exercise and physical training places’.
It’s true that in many places these have closed down. Some offer online services to replace the lost physical access. Use these. Ultimately, you’re not dependent on a location or other people to recreate the endorphins your brain is still craving. ‘I can still train by myself. I can create room at home, in the garden or in a safe outside place and have a go at it. I may find material online to create workouts if I don’t know how. I’ll access my school’s material or use my existing knowledge. There’s no time like now to recreate a new workout discipline, designed by myself. I can do it’.
‘There’s too much uncertainty now’.
None of us are in control of the COVID-19 virus, its spread and how authorities or people react to it. We are however in control of something else. ‘I can control my actions. I can control my thoughts and emotions. I can choose to stay healthy, eat well, train regularly, talk to loved ones and spend time doing things we all like and enjoy. In the end, this thing will pass’. Make these things your goals instead. Just like the persistence and consistency in your previous training, this period is just another training goal challenge.
How you think about the pandemic and how you will be affected by it, before it medically does, is actually a key part of your defences against it. Keeping a healthy immune system to help defeat it is driven by all the smaller actions your mindset will control you to do. Sleep, nutrition and exercise are all key components of maintaining a functioning and strong immune system.
And what’s behind these key components? How you think. It drives how you act.
Dispel the bad mind and make it good. You have the power. Use it.