Hey everybody welcome back to the optimizer Life podcast and I really want to share with you something that I think is super important right now during this COVID epidemic. You know, a lot of people have been struggling with sitting at home, being on Zoom all day, and even though we thought we’d have so much more time to ourselves, this is the thing we’ve been wanting, right? Everybody’s been itching to work from home and now that it’s finally here, everybody’s kind of burned out, freaking out about how long this is going to last, and ultimately not finding as much time as they thought for themselves. And one of the things that’s happening is, and I don’t know if you can relate to this but, for a lot of people, they’re finding that they’re not exercising as much. They’re sitting for many hours a day in front of their screen doing meeting after meeting and it’s so easy for us to sit all day and really not find the time to move our bodies. And this can really have a negative effect, not just on your physical body, on your physical health, but also on your mental health. And so today I really want to talk about the importance of moving your body and I also want to share some tips about what you can do during quarantine, what you can do with all the restrictions while your gym may be closed, some of the things that other people that I’ve talked to are doing, some of the things that I’m doing, and just give you some new perspectives and things to think about and then really end with a challenge for you to take something from this episode and try to implement it. So if you are somebody who has been really thinking about this, hasn’t been feeling so good in their body, feels like something really should change because you just feel heavy, you feel like maybe your back’s hurting from sitting for so long, you’re just wanting a new experience, you want to feel lighter, you want to feel like you’re in better shape, then this is for you.
So you already know that exercise is good for you and I’m not going to spend any time really going over that with you because we all know this already. You know it’s good for your health. It can do a whole bunch of things that are good in terms of your physical being. But what I want to share more about today is how it can affect you if you’re in a slump mentally, emotionally because that is where you have the most power right now to make a difference. So I don’t, I want you to be able to think about it like this: if you are feeling depressed because we’re in the midst of an epidemic, if you are feeling anxious because you just don’t know how much longer this is going to last, if you are feeling burned out because you have been working too much or because you aren’t engaging in enough self-care to recover your energy, maybe your drained and exhausted, whatever the case may be, then you really need to think about what is happening and what you can do to optimize your results. So that’s going to be the focus and I really also have some fun little facts to share with you.
Okay. So let’s just dive in. When it comes to depression, one of the things that happens, and if you’re experiencing this and you know what I’m talking about, and if you’re not experiencing it now perhaps this is something that you’ve had in the past, what happens is that we feel drained physically. So we just don’t have the energy to get out of the house and go for a walk or a run or do the things that you typically used to do. Not only that, depression also zaps your motivation. It makes you feel kind of hopeless and you might be asking yourself the question, “What’s the point?” So you probably have this mindset that “no matter what I’m going to do it’s not going to change anything. I’m still going to come home. We’re still going to be in the midst of an epidemic. All of these things are still going to be true. So why should I even put in the effort? And it’s like so much effort because it feels like I’m walking through molasses just to get out the door. I need to put on my sneakers. I need to put on a jacket. Oh my God, it just feel so overwhelming.” Okay? And so this is just normal if you are depressed. So recognize this is part of the symptom of the problem and what you really need to do is be strategic here.
I want you to think about a time when you didn’t feel like going out to exercise and you did it anyway and then how you felt after the fact. Chances are that you felt better than when you first left the house. That you probably felt revived, rejuvenated, you had some fresh air that you got to breathe outside, your body felt like just lighter, you feel more in control when you’re moving your body, when you’re exercising, right? You start to really shift your attitude, your mood. Everything starts to change.
And so one of the things that I’d like to offer is that you do an exercise where you challenge yourself. You say to yourself, “I really don’t think this is going to benefit me and on a scale of 0 to 10, I assume that it’s not going to be very pleasurable. It’s going to be (if 0 is like ‘not at all pleasurable’ and 10 is like ‘it’s amazing’), I’m going to say it’s going to be like a 3. And then go ahead and take yourself outside and it could be as short as 15 minutes to maybe go around the block or it could be, if you have a little bit longer maybe 30 minutes. But take yourself outside anyway. It could be like, you know, if it’s if it’s as short as 15 minutes then maybe we’ll call it a mini-challenge, but do that and then come back home and ask yourself, “how enjoyable was that really (0 to 10)?” and see if it matched your expectation. Most of the time, what we find is that when we put ourselves in situations, even when we don’t anticipate it being very enjoyable, we actually become surprised by the outcomes. So this is a way of breaking through that depression and seeing that actually “when I do things, even though I don’t think they’re going to benefit me, it makes a big difference” And then you can actually write down like how you feel and it will help to kind of solidify that information in your brain so the next time you are struggling to get out of the house, this can come in handy.
The same thing is really helpful with anxiety, but I want to share a different reason of why movement would be important for you if you’re anxious. So what happens with anxiety is not only is your mind just producing thought after thought and there’s a lot of worries, a lot of focus about the future, and this can be very draining. It could be very paralyzing. And not only is it happening in your mind, but notice what’s happening in your body. When you are anxious, there’s a lot of elevated energy and it just has nowhere to go and that’s why you feel trapped because you are producing all those same thoughts over and over again. It’s called rumination. And so when you exercise during a point where you feel anxious, you get to release some of that pent-up energy. And so it’s different than with depression in the sense that with depression you’re already feeling so drained but with anxiety, you’ve got so much energy and you’re just looking for an outlet for it. So exercise and movement just serves a different purpose for you, but it’s just as effective. Instead of feeling so hyped up, you get to relax. You get to be more grounded and feel more calm and that’s exactly what you want when you’re feeling anxious.
So those are the big two when it comes to mental health and now want to cover the challenge of what to do when your gym is closed, when you’re on lockdown. Some people are stuck in the house and even when there’s no quarantine, it could just be that there’s a lot of snow. Maybe there’s a snow storm outside and it’s just, the conditions are too much to go out. Or it could be that you live somewhere where it’s incredibly humid and it’s like you feel like you’re choking if you go outside, and so you just want to hang out indoors in the air conditioning. So we have a solution for you too.
Now many people that I’ve talked to recently since the beginning of the pandemic and including myself have gone and started doing more online exercises. So for example, I used to go to the gym every week to do a live yoga class and when the gyms closed down I subscribed to one of these online yoga academies where they have pre-recorded content. So I can just pick how long of a session I want to practice. I can pick what level I’m at. And then I get a library to choose from of which class I want to do. And so that’s been really helpful because then I can do it in my own time. All I need is a little bit of space on the floor where I can put out my yoga mat and I can do the class.
For other people is a little bit of a different story. And I came across something that is really fun and cool that I wanted to share with you. So recently I was at an event and I met this guy. His name is Paul Michaels and he’s all about helping working professionals get fit with ease. And so this was a live event that we were on. He was on there for like 3 days and everybody’s in front of their cameras interacting, taking notes, doing all the things. But he had one of those treadmills that he was on. And so the entire time while he was on there and whenever he’s doing even like a zoom call with somebody one-on-one, he is walking. So while the rest of us are sitting there collecting dust, he is actually getting his steps in and he’s really amazing at that. He’s changed his whole life. I think he has some sort of health scare and then he really reorganized his life. He used to work a lot get got really burned out and now has completely revolutionized the way that he engages in his life. And part of that is just doing this. And so some of the people that he comes across ask questions that you might have such as “well, what if I don’t have one of those treadmills? What can I do?” And so he did this thing, almost like a demonstration for a group of his, where while they were talking about something, he just started pacing the halls of his house. And he’s got a small space, maybe only a thousand feet, a thousand square feet, and it didn’t matter cuz he could just walk back and forth lots of times. And by the end of the hour, he was able to tell people how many steps he had done and everybody was just amazed because they’re like “well, I would have never thought to do that!”
Now there’s a reason why he talks about the importance of movement even when you are doing it up and down your hallway. And if you are into productivity and getting your work done, then this is really important and this is why I bring it up as an optimization strategy. One of the things that he talks about, and this is so true, is that we can only really focus our minds for about 20 minutes at a time. And so it’s important for us to take breaks because what happens is right about the 20-minute mark you might notice that that’s where you start to browse social media. You’re going on your Facebook and you’re checking out what’s happening there. Or you’re doing something that doesn’t take up a lot of energy because you’re, as he calls it, ‘in a trough.’ So your energy kind of plummets and that’s where your productivity kind of goes out the window. And so what he talks about is whenever you get into that state, what if you were to do a little bit of movement and bring your energy levels back up because that’s what it does. It’s kind of ironic because when we think about exercise, it’s about exerting energy and so we think it makes us tired. But the truth of the matter is, it really can be very energizing and you’re not running a marathon. You’re not doing something so strenuous. You’re just maybe walking or you’re doing some stretches or, you know, you could do some sit-ups or something that doesn’t take up a lot of space and that can actually boost up your energy so that your mind can focus and you get back to work and get your work done more quickly.
So I want you to really consider what you’re doing right now, how much space it would require for you to do a little bit of movement. Maybe it’s to get your steps in. Maybe it’s to do some stretches in between calls so that your back isn’t so tight. Maybe you’ve got a 30 minute break that you can actually take an online yoga class. Whatever works for you, just think about what your options are. What would really suit your body, your needs, and how you can start to implement these things as you move forward.
So we know that exercise is really good. It’s not only physically good for your body but it’s also good for your mental health and now we’re also talking about the importance of it for your productivity. And guess what? The sooner you get your work done, the more time you have for yourself. So there’s so many benefits to this. You don’t need a gym. You can literally just go for a walk around the block. You can go for a walk up and down your hallway. If you want to get all, you know, technical about this, you can geek out and get one of those treadmills. Or I’ve seen people have one of those little exercise bikes that just pulls up right under their desk so you can be circling your legs, you know, around while you’re talking to people and nobody even has to see it. So just get creative and think about what is going to work for you, what you’re going to implement, and it can even be if you’re going to take the approach of “every 20 minutes I do a little something,” it can even be just for a few minutes. 5 minutes every 20 minutes and then you’ve got ,you know, 15 minutes out of every hour that you’re doing something. So something along those lines and check my math on that. I don’t think that was quite right. The point is that you want to find something that works for you and that’s your challenge for this week. And I’d love to hear what you come up with, some sort of creative solutions perhaps I haven’t shared and if you leave a comment and you share some of those, I would love to share that with the rest of the audience during the next couple episodes, so looking forward to reading some of your comments and finding out ways that you are implementing this in your life.
Now I also want to share that if you want other ways to really master, not just your physical health, but your mind, I did put together a Mindset Mastery Starter Kit and that’s got resources on things like stress and burnout and imposter syndrome and all kinds of other things. It’s completely free. You can find it on my website at www.drsharogrossman.com
So join the list. Get all of these amazing free resources that I put together for you and I’ll talk to you next time.