The 2020 presidential election amplified the anxiety and uncertainty we’ve been dealing with since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year. According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association approximately 68 percent of U.S. adults said the presidential election is a significant source of stress in their lives, up from 56 percent during the 2016 election.
This statistic was gathered before taking into consideration the advent of a world-wide pandemic and the social unrest occurring during the same period. What’s clear is that coping mechanisms are needed now more than ever to deal with these uncertainties, and it’s up to each of us to control one of the few things we can: our emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.
As human beings, we tend to dwell on things we cannot change and imagine worst-case scenarios. This is the result of our sympathetic nervous system, which helps us decipher danger and provides us with the chance to fight or flee. The only way to deal with catastrophizing thoughts that are incompatible with our immediate situation is to turn away from them. You can accomplish this either by slowing your breath through meditation or by physically moving through exercise. Movement naturally increases our oxygenation and moves us out of fight-or-flight into a calmer state. Now more than ever is the perfect time to get up, get outside and walk!
Hippocrates said over two centuries ago that “walking is man’s best medicine,” an adage I prescribe to personally and offer to anyone within earshot. Walking not only boosts stress-easing endorphins in just 10 minutes, it also reduces fatigue, increases circulation and heart health, improves blood pressure and most importantly, empowers us to open our minds. With every step, new insights develop in our consciousness from the creative areas of our brain—ideas that are more subjective and less critical—regarding “what is possible, what is next for me and what is my purpose going forward.”
Additionally, walking moves us into a “higher” state of consciousness that allows for a more spiritual, expansive view of life and our place in it. We emerge from this form of exercise feeling more hopeful and energized than we did before. Simply put, walking can work wonders for anyone dealing with mental, physical or emotional struggles.
It’s important to note that movement also brings us into a state of gratitude. A perfect subject to focus on during November, gratitude also plays a big role in my book “From Sole to Soul: A Daily Prescription for Moving Forward in Your Life.” No matter our life circumstances, we can always stop and give thanks for our situation. The fact that we have life itself is reason enough to give thanks. Furthermore, acknowledging and practicing gratitude daily is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and the world around us. Feelings of appreciation flow from this practice, and we experience the Law of Circulation – where the thoughts and actions we send out circle back to us, often in an augmented form. I invite all of us to become hyper-aware of our thoughts this month, keeping in mind that we have the power to either enhance or weaken our lives and the lives of others during this upcoming holiday season and into 2021.
Let’s move together this month, in a state of unity, understanding and forgiveness for what is, what has been and what can be. Let’s move toward that “high place,” where a more loving, creative and hopeful world is seen and known. This is our chance to step forward, united, leaving all divisions in our wake and forging a better tomorrow – today.
Blessings for a positive, kinder and more meaningful holiday season! We deserve nothing less.