Are you home alone during the coronavirus pandemic? Or are you suddenly caring for children while trying to work from home? Do you feel isolated or vulnerable during this crisis?
It’s no secret that loneliness, anxiety and fear in this era are every bit as great a threat as the pandemic that is changing our world. Luckily, separation doesn’t have to feel lonely if we live alone nor does fear have to spook us into anxiety. Consider unique opportunities we can enjoy while we wait out this rather scary health crisis.
What if we choose one brain-friendly tactic below to help us achieve more from our mandated isolation? Then, in the comments below, what if we share how we’re spending mandated time at home in a way that builds wellbeing.
Feel free to ignore any or all web links I added below, and simply do a suggestion or two that best fits your pandemic stay-at-home situation. URL links were added for readers who enjoy back stories of related mental and emotional tools to tackle and beat separation blues during this pandemic.
Hit on any web links below, however, to discover more examples and further relevant research about our awesome brains during isolation.
Related to each strategy below is a link, included for readers who want more research, insights, or clarifications.
Feel free also to ask questions or offer more suggestions below, as many of us are with you, even while we too are separated temporarily from those we love, and prevented access to activities we enjoy.
What if today led you in a new direction of dynamite possibilities for personal wellbeing during this coronavirus chaos? What if you used brain-friendly strategies as the bulwark between ruts and rejuvenation while you wait out this mandated isolation period?
What if you stepped toward a small change at first, by adding even one life-changing brainpower boost through any 1 of 25 recent facts from the brain sciences.
How will you …
1. Beat boredom by choosing wonder! Boredom is actually more a toxic habit formed and reinforced in our brains, and shaped by our choices, rather than any pandemic separation realities we face. Check out a few brain friendly tricks to beat boredom during separation or other pandemic-related isolation challenges.
2. Scope out or prepare a happy place in your isolation area. Environment counts here, and a healthy, comfortable, and visually pleasing setting engages our visual and other intelligences as tools to help transform problems into solutions. Pour coffee, sip wine, arrange flowers, hang a favorite photo near you, and settle back into your most comfy chair to chart your fun new adventure.
3. Consider respected health leaders‘ advice in our geographic area and we avoid leaning into toxic hyperbole, or fear-mongering. Well-being comes partially from and is fueled and extended by serotonin, the brain’s aha chemical hormones. Serotonin equips our brain to help us hear truth and make healthier choices to move forward.
4. Avoid anger, fear, blame-games or frustration, as these lethal emotions are fueled and extended by cortisol, the brain’s dangerous stress-induced chemical hormones. The cortisol we take on and trigger through emotions such as stress prevents any advances we may hope to achieve for ourselves and with others close to us.
5. Speak doable personal possibilities that can be achieved while in isolation rather than dwell on problems caused by coronavirus. Venting is bad for our brain as it causes us to lay down new neural connections into much more of the same misery and ultimate failure. Imagine you offered to a negative Nellie, an innovative way to grow intrapersonal IQ during a mandated time apart. Then simply do whatever fun, innovative strategy you suggested to that person. Walk the talk and a new neural pathway forms in our brain and improves directions in our isolation reality.
6. Set daily targets and map out small steps to reach these in one day. Dendrite (brain nerve cells) use the outside world and take shape, as they grow new neuron pathways toward healthy or unhealthy targets, based on actions we do. Be kind to you whenever you fail to meet any mark, and use each mistake as a stepping stone forward to success on the following day!
7. Select a favorite musical genre that will improve our moods and we also improve our isolation experience. How so? I find ambient music helps me sleep better if stress slips into my day, for instance. And Salsa gets me moving when I clean or organize my environment. Experiment with your favorite musical genre, and get excited about benefits that music can bring to your isolation period. Music changes brain wave speeds in ways that impact moods and certain rhythms can enhance productivity we’re proud of.
8. Model a productive and fun strategy for killing time in dynamic ways and we motivate others to do the same during their own separation period. Run from lectures! One-way talks work against listeners’ brains, benefiting speakers’ intelligence mostly, while teaching others through motivational modeling, helps us all to retain and attempt more motivational pass-times while separated.
9. Act outside tired boxes, and try a novel discovery instead. Light fires of inspiration with a new innovative pass-time. In contrast, Hebbian thinkers rewire our brains to kill incentives, remain in ruts, limit focus and even shrink our brains with stress from boredom. How will today’s isolation light inspirational fires rather than rely on past fears about what it means to be separated from others?
10. Brainstorm your best ideas to benefit from diverse suggestions during time alone, in spite of coronavirus anxieties sparked by others. Avoid blaming those who differ for causing this pandemic. Just as importantly, drop ideas from former diversity training sessions. McKinsey surveys show why traditional diversity training commonly works mentally against benefits, because of its deficit model of passive listening, without actively implementing as we go.
11. Sleep long enough, and well! Our brain waves can either enhance sleep or peak performances, or they can prevent rest, based on how we activate them. Aim for seven to eight hours nightly. Make sleep a friend, not a foe, and get far more energy to carry out your innovative separation plans. Dream of finer sleep in spite of scary pandemic facts?
12. Learn more daily from disease prevention experts. Hook even difficult facts about this vicious disease onto one thing we already know such as similarities and differences to flu, fevers and fighting for breath, so that our understanding increases in less time. There may be much experts have yet to learn, and yet we learn new CONIV-19 facts daily that help us to practice what we can do to stay safe in whatever separation setting we find ourselves.
13. Run toward a finer destination daily and our brain does the rest. You may be aware that our basal ganglia stores and reuses older facts that can create ruts. In contrast when we activate our awesome working memory we hold fewer, yet new and more relevant facts. This working memory enables change and improvements as we use them to solve problems.
14. Engage multiple intelligences that are common to all, used by few, and all eight intelligences can be developed daily, while in isolation. Which of our multiple intelligences best shows how an amazing IQ remains fluid and our intelligence is not fixed?
15. Run from cynicism of every shape! Cynical mindsets literally block creativity, impact talent, and stomp out innovation, while increasing cortisol individually and collectively. Wonder if cynicism has slipped into our isolation setting? Check out the ten tragic traits of a cynic and we want to high tail it back to higher ground into mental and emotional contentment, in spite of our current isolation.
16. List a few key things needed to stay safe and then keep that list nearby to ensure we follow healthy practices listed. Memory can be outsourced into lists or frequent behaviors such as keeping sanitizer in the same spot, helps us remember to wash hands frequently. Outsourcing key facts from our memory bank, frees up our minds for focus on the fun and adventure we can have, even while we are separated.
17. Expect change, stay flexible while separated and enjoy unexpected benefits. Plasticity (or the brain’s ability to change itself) kicks in when we embrace change. It takes a deliberate desire for progress if we are to advance past loneliness in order to enjoy mental and emotional wellbeing. Intentionally, we choose responses such as planning a fun day. Through our deliberate actions, we mentally and emotionally rewire daily in ways that keep us from being lonely even when we are alone.
18. Cheer on somebody you love while separated! Encouragement literally changes the chemistry and circuitry of our brains through raised serotonin, and rewiring for delight.
19. Speak kindness with enormous clarity and bold care for those around you. Meta messages, torpedo those subtle jabs that pretend to mean what they do not, destroy relationships through implications different from what is being said and heard. See how meta messages can ruin any advantages we or those around us can gain from isolation we enter?
20. Gather new mental and emotional tools for this new isolation challenge. Smart skills, for example, can offer us an innovative integration of hard and soft skills to solve problems connected to coronavirus. Smart skills integrate to help our brain resolve pesky separation situations with far more mental and emotional acumen
21. Choose kind over cranky. Stress literally shrinks the brain, and poor tone in communication acts as a silent killer, so that we run on far fewer cylinders than we need for wellbeing. We store stress reactions in our amygdala, when we could be storing fun, expectation and delight. Yes, kind beats cranky both mentally and emotionally in our separation challenges as coronavirus increases.
22. Greet folks who feel disadvantaged while separated, in ways that inspire them forward through a unique form of name calling. Our brains do the rest to get improved results in tough times. How so? Address a person through speaking that person’s name in a gracious and respectful way, for instance, and expect a shared spike in personal awareness.
23. Learn from and teach those around you for mental rewards in unpredictable situations. This is called mind-guiding and it’s dynamite for mutual mentoring face to face or online while we are separated. Mind-guiding offers brain friendly tools that inspire creativity and invention by teaching others at the same time we also learn from them.
24. Deliberately choose a possibility over a problem, while isolated. Check out 10 things possibility thinkers do differently that would benefit us beyond pandemic challenges. We create new neural pathways to see possibilities beyond problems each time we propose a solution to address challenges encountered. Have you experienced or observed possibility thinking?
25. Consider how men and women may experience separation differently. How might we capitalize on ways that women’s and men’s brain differ biologically and intellectually? What if we discover together, new ways that few optimize, when challenges such as coronavirus arise with unique opportunities to support both men and women we love.
Extended content written for our interdenominational faith community
If you enjoy cognitive and neural insights and practical applications as I do, go back and check out links in each brain-friendly tip above.
If you value faith or lean into amazing grace, as I also do, you may be asking: How could a loving God allow such a killer pandemic and so much suffering? Good question – with answers rooted in both brain facts and a grace mindset.
Each month a diverse group of thinkers debates such topics at our Grace-mindset Dialogue Dinner, held at Chianti’s in Old Strathcona.
Unfortunately we must cancel our fun dinner at Chianti’s until the coronavirus crisis ends. We would have considered brain-friendly strategies above, related to the crisis, and would have shared our lived experience of grace-mindset connections below to answer key questions that reshape our isolation time.
First, align your situation with God’s perception of it. How does God’s image of you in your specific pandemic situation, align with how you see yourself? Whether alone or with others, we can enjoy a benefit from the lived delight of being the apple of God’s eye and the trophy of His grace? (Ephesians 2: 4-7 and Psalm 17:8)
Second, hang in and let resilience carry you! Luckily contentment begins for each of us within our inner perception, and a joyful day often follows. It’s not the other way around. Increasingly we are aware of our brain’s power tools to build mental and emotional wellbeing. We become resilient whenever we wonder about possibilities and use these to side-step problems.
Third, question God during a meditation or walk. Ask, How can God’s image of you in your specific pandemic situation, align with how you see yourself at this moment? What will God do? What will you do? Then consider how science and scriptures fuse together brilliantly to rewire our minds and reboot emotions with agape love. In spite of a global pandemic, and mandated isolation we can enjoy optimism and possibility-thinking. Our confidence is based in hope and unconditional agape love for our days ahead.
Fourth, be assured that human brains come fully equipped to renew our minds and refurbish emotional wellbeing, based on a lived experience of God’s unmerited favor or grace. Key word here is lived experience.
Fifth, choose grace and live its benefits. Each time we react by focusing on doable possibilities rather than vent about problems, we make grace-mindset choices that reshape our mental architecture. We become hopeful, not hopeless. We lean into God’s tangible love, and away from stress and fear of scary times created by this killer coronavirus disease run amuck.
Why not begin a new day or venture with scripture’s reminder to think about things that are excellent, worthy of praise, true, honest, noble, lovely or admirable. (Philippians 4:8). I was leading a grace mindset brain conference about this topic to faith based leaders and a well known artist in the room created two four foot posters to illustrate God’s enormous love to each of us. Think of how agape love’s reality changes an unpredictable or scary day.
When we reflect on and enjoy any day showered in God’s love, we also value that this enormous love for us is based on divine perfection, and not reliant on our flash…pause…flash… lighthouse-like efforts to be a flickering light in dark times.
What choices could we make today to benefit even more from the reality that we are hard wired for God’s eternal force – love. We literally escape those toxins of fear, stress and misery, because the brain cannot engage love and fear at the same time.
I agree with Marcus Aurelius who said: Our life is what our thoughts make it. Science and scripture – taken together – show us how what we think and do becomes our mental and emotional reality. Through deliberate efforts to live from agape’s awesome love and grace we renew as Romans 12:2 claims. We open new access to happiness, meaning, and health in a difficult coronavirus threat, simply by changing the chemical and electrical circuitry of our brains.
Just as an artist illustrated during my grace mindset brain conference, we can reach past cabin fever and we can enjoy the rainbow hues of agape love alive in us in ways that renew us on even a difficult day! Rather than slipping into cabin fever, reflections of God’s mind-bending love, trigger creative outcomes we can expect, simply by choosing to be kinder to ourselves, for instance. Based on God’s care and support for us in such challenging moments, we are equipped to help others around us also, and to delight in our day, whatever hurdles it tosses onto our pathway.
I believe God wants to fold each of us into His enormous love for humanity, by sharing His intimate revelations about grace mindset choices, within each of us. He gives us a grace mindset where we have agape ability to rewire stress, anxiety, and depression bent parts of our brains for free and kinder images of our capabilities to overcome challenges. How so? We can tame our amygdala so cranky becomes kind, and cabin fever converts to creativity and wonder.
No question, modern pressures play a key role in the hopelessness we sometimes fall into. Breakthroughs in cognitive and neural sciences show more clearly how we can see ourselves as fearfully and wonderfully made and delightfully alive through God’s enormous love. Spot any grace mindset tools here for your unique challenges if you find yourself isolated for an extended period of time?
Let’s take our dialogue online and see how we can think deeply in ways that inspire others to do the same. Tell us about your brain friendly strategy chosen and your grace mindset insights in the comments below.
Looking for further fun activities to find and benefit from easy-to-do brain facts while reading or reviewing a novel or short story? Hope to study or ponder fiction while separated?
Read new neural details and grace mindset facts behind these brain boosters and then share your comments below between now and 7:30 Wed night when our Chianti dinner would end on a normal get-together month.
YOUR TURN …
Looking forward to your comments or questions below!
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Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset