Time for Some Positive Coping | MGM Healthcare
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Time for some positive coping Mon , Jun 20

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  • There is not a day that has gone by in the recent past that hasn’t featured the dreaded ‘C word’ at least once in every conversation worldwide. Some of these conversations are informative while others are loaded with rumours. So, what should we do? Let’s face facts first. We are facing a pandemic. It is a difficult time all around but we need to win and have a winning attitude. And as hard as it might be to believe right now, every problem — even the Coronavirus — has a solution.

  • While it is expected of governments and the world’s scientists to come up with the solution, does that mean we sit back and do nothing? External help comes from the government in the form of lockdowns and putting protocols in place. Internal help, on the other hand, comes from within us. Staying positive in trying times like these is paramount. With a calm mind, make a plan of how best to spend your time during the lockdown.

  • In rehabilitation medicine, there are five main aspects to the American Heart Association protocols that we follow — Diet, Relaxation, Exercise, Attitude, Motivation. Since diet and exercise are covered in abundance these days, I am going to shift the focus to the other three. A restless mind is where negative thoughts brew and these lead to negative actions. To help rest your mind and give you motivation, you need to feel inspired and the best way to do that is to look for motivation in people and situations around you. Look at motivating historical incidents where people have overcome all odds to make a bad situation better.

  • Here’s one: Let’s take the example of LJ Flanders, author of Cell Workout, a training guide that will help you understand how to train without the need for any gadgets except your own bodyweight to get fit. In 2011, Flanders found himself sentenced to prison for ticket scalping. Once inside a 6 x 8 feet cell, he began to think of ways to use his time productively and he decided that he would become as fit as possible. He signed up for a personal training course that taught him a lot and he passed the knowledge on to his fellow inmates through an exercise manual that he created. After he got out, he kept himself motivated and eventually wrote and published the book Cell Workout in 2015.

  • Unlike Flanders, you are not in a prison or a place with limitations. You have your house, you have your freedom, most of you have the time; the only thing you probably lack is a plan. And to put together a good plan for your health and happiness, you need to have a calm mind. So, let’s start with calming the mind using top three positive coping techniques — breathing, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation. The yoga sutras of Patanjali say that when you control your breath; you can control your mind and emotions. A recent study conducted by Stanford scientists confirms this link between breath and states of mind. Appropriate breathing has a powerful effect on stress reduction and it also boosts immunity. The beauty of breath work is that you do not need anything. The air moving through you has great potential. Count from one to four as you inhale through your nose. Pause for two counts. Then, purse your lips and mentally count from one to six as you exhale through your mouth. Repeat for a few minutes and enjoy slow, rhythmic breathing.

  • Apart from relieving stress, meditation is a great way to calm the mind. Ask the football team that was trapped in a Thai cave for about two weeks without light and food. The boys got through the ordeal with the help of meditation that their coach, who was trained in meditation as a Buddhist monk for ten years, taught them. The meditation greatly helped the 12 boys stay calm and preserve their energy. “An effortless focus on any one thing is meditation,” says Kamlesh D Patel, co-author of The Heartfulness Way. The fact is, most of us already know how to meditate. For a small child, the object of meditation could be a toy. For an adult, it could be wealth, power, success, etc.

  • Focus your mind on a single word or sound. Mentally repeat the chosen sound over and over, finding rhythm and cadence that feels best to you. Adopt a passive attitude toward the process, particularly with regards to how well you’re doing. If your mind wanders, gently redirect your focus to your chosen word each time. After 15–20 minutes, slowly return to a normal state, feeling refreshed and energised.

  • Progressive muscle relaxation is an effective and widely used strategy for stress relief that creates a state of deep relaxation by involving alternate tensing and relaxing of muscles. This technique helps people who are often so tensed throughout the day that they fail to even recognise what being relaxed feels like. Tense each muscle group in arms, legs and body to about 25–50% of maximum capacity. Hold for a few seconds as you continue to breathe and then, slowly release the tension as you focus on the pleasant contrast between tight and relaxed muscles. Once you have covered the entire group of muscles in the body, sit quietly for several minutes and enjoy the feeling of a relaxed body before you slowly open your eyes.

  • So, beyond the external support that we expect from our political authorities, let’s help ourselves be successful. And once you believe you are strong, pass your knowledge on to others and help them plan for themselves too. If you help yourself, you help others and you indirectly help the world.

  • The author, Dr AJ Rajendran, is a Senior Consultant & Head of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at MGM Healthcare

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