COVID19 – Falling off of the Bus – Getting back on effectively

Becoming more healthy during COVID19

Hello my Patients, Friends, and Family,

I am sure that, just like I am feeling stressed during this crazy COVID19 time, most of you are as well. I have been thinking about you and how we can do more to add value to your lives during this time. So we are going to put several things out there to hopefully help you.

Falling off the bus

I have lost track of how many times in the past that I will be moving along, trying to reach my goals and dreams, feel like I am making progress and BAM!, along comes an unexpected trial or challenge and it completely throws me off course. Last August was a great example for me. I was hiking and broke my tibia and had to have surgery to reconstruct it. Man, that really threw me off my bus for a while and took me time to come back from. I am still trying to get used to the many screws and metal plate in my leg.

So, what do I mean by getting thrown off or falling off the bus? I mean one day we are doing all things or most things necessary to progress and reach our goals in life, and the next, we get hit with trauma or a trial and we stop doing those things that are vital to continue that progression to reach those important goals. This is primarily due to that big stressor or challenge causing us to often have to change what we normally do to get past it. And we often stop doing many or all of the other things that we’re helping us progress to reach our goals.

Now we all have the COVID19 pandemic (BAM!) and all of the sudden we are mandated to stay at home, many of us have either dramatically had to cut back at work or stopped all together. We are stressed about possibly getting the coronavirus, and we are stressed economically. Talk about a big traumatic challenge that most of us were not expecting.

I have been studying this phenomena, getting thrown off the bus by having challenges or trials and trying to get back on for many years now. I would like to share what I have learned and what I am still learning.

What happens when we fall off of the bus

Let’s say, we are hit with a big trial – COVID19
We are stressed that we may get the virus, or we have it, or one of our loved ones has the virus. We have gotten laid off from work, or we have had to furlough or lay off our employees, or we are struggling to pay our bills, or even to keep our businesses afloat. Or in some cases we or our loved ones may be struggling to stay alive.

Our bodies go immediately into fight or flight mode. This means our hypothalamus in our brain sends signals to our adrenal glands located on our kidneys to secrete adrenaline and cortisol that ultimately floods our bodies.

Adrenaline is there to increase our heart rate, elevate our blood pressure and boost our energy.

Cortisol, our primary stress hormone, increases blood glucose (sugars) in the bloodstream, enhancing our brains use of glucose. And increases the availability of tissue repair substances. Cortisol also decreases bodily functions that would be considered nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight scenario. Cortisol changes immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, as well as suppressing the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex fight or flight system also communicates with parts of the brain that control motivation, mood and fear.

This is a wonderful response when we are facing a rattlesnake on the trail and need to get away fast. It gives us what we need to get away. It can also become very self-limiting.

This is a great natural system to get us through many emergency situations. However, when the stressor becomes chronic or continually present, the flight or flight response continues to remain on and we often feel like we are constantly being threatened or even under attack.

Add this to the fact that humans are the only creatures that can experience something traumatic, go through a fight or flight response, and then return to it later in our thoughts to the time of that same traumatic event and immediately turn on our fight or flight responses again, just like when we were actually there. Many or all of the same hormonal fight or flight chemicals can come right back and flood our bodies again, along with all of the triggered emotions we felt during that time. This is due to our brains having a difficult time telling the difference between thinking about it and the real event.

Over time this sustained fight or flight reaction to stress has devastating effects. It can create havoc to almost all of our bodies processes and put us at risk of multiple health problems, such as: depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, heart disease, headaches, weight gain, digestive disorders, memory and concentration impairment.

For many who have had substantial trauma in the past, a current traumatic event can trigger many of those memories, hormones, and feelings that we associated with that previous trauma. Essentially it may all come back to add onto the stress that we are currently experiencing, making all of this much worse in our minds than it may have been otherwise.

After discussing the effects of a continued traumatic event/fight or flight response, is it any wonder why many of us are angry, anxious, fearful, can’t sleep well, feel unmotivated, depressed, or just plain exhausted?!

No wonder we fall off, or even feel like we have been thrown off of the bus! Our internal bodies and external lives have been completely disrupted. I feel your pain, your anxiety, your fears, your anger, and your exhaustion! Now what do we do about it?

What to do when we fall off the bus

Step 1 Stop – Slow down, breath, reflect, and analyze how you are doing on the basics.
Step 2 Start – You must start doing all of the essential basics.

To live a fully optimized, healthy and productive life, we all need to be at our best. There are certain basic practices and habits that get us to where we can function optimally and a very healthy state. When these practices or habits are disrupted, as they are often by traumatic events, we will essentially fall off of the bus that carries us to achieve our optimal health, goals and dreams.

As we go through this time of COVID19, we want to stay healthy! Since many of us have more time on our hands why not become healthier! What a great opportunity to do just that.

The essential basics:

  1. Water Intake
  2. Diet
  3. Oral Hygiene
  4. Sleep
  5. Exercise
  6. Stress Reduction
  7. Mindset
  8. Spiritual Congruence

© Douglas Olson DMD, My Dental Company

1- Water Intake- Stay Well Hydrated


Photo by Bit Cloud on Unsplash

I am including water in this, separate from diet, because it is that important! Most of us do not drink enough water
each day.

Water is essential to our health.

  1. Our bodies are approximately 60-70% water.
  2. Our blood (which is 50% water) is the transport system for all our essential nutrients to our brains, including amino acids, vitamins, and sugars (energy)
  3. The brain is about 85% water.

“Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels,” says Amanda Carlson,
RD, director of performance nutrition at Athletes’ Performance, a trainer of world-class athletes. “Cortisol is one of
those stress hormones. Staying in a good hydrated status can keep your stress levels down. When you don’t give
your body the fluids it needs, you’re putting stress on it, and it’s going to respond to that.”

According to staff at the Mayo Clinic:

How much water do you need?

Everyday you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish your water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.

So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food. About 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks.

For this and other health benefits of water click the link below.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

Drinking plenty of water also helps us produce enough saliva. Saliva is essential to fight off viruses and bacteria that we are constantly plagued with in our environments each day. Our brain, our cardio-vascular system, our entire body needs precious water to function and function well.

Staying hydrated with enough water will help our bodies utilize our lymphatic systems more efficiently to flush out toxins and bacteria that may cause illness.

Most older adults are often very dehydrated and more susceptible to illness in part because they are not drinking enough water.

Here is a great link from medical news today – 15 benefits of drinking water
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290814

We know that studies have shown that when a person is dehydrated it leads to higher cortisol levels in the body. Remember, this is the primary stress hormone that makes it more difficult to work through our stressors. Staying hydrated helps all of us be better able to face and manage our challenges and thus our stress levels.

All of our organs, including our brains, need water to function properly. If you’re dehydrated, your body isn’t running well — and that can lead to stress. When you’re stressed, your heart rate is often increased, breathing accelerates, and this may lead to more dehydration.
So, when we are stressed we should drink more water.

As we work to increase our health status and decrease our stress levels drinking enough water is vital to our success!
© Douglas Olson DMD, My Dental Company

2- Diet

Diet Plan
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

During this time of Coronavirus I have seen a lot of different foods fly off of the shelves. Sometimes what I see people choosing to take home to stock up on boggles my mind. Many of the least nutrient dense and most preserved foods are often the first foods that go.

So often when we are stressed, we become exhausted. When we are stressed and exhausted we often choose food choices that are convenient and fast. This may often include going out to eat or take out. It means fast food. Usually this means more processed and less fresh foods.

It is important to get foods that can store well to make it possible to go to the grocery store less. However, the foods that give us the most nutrient density are most often the fresh foods. It’s the fruits and vegetables folks that need to be part of our daily food consumption. These foods are still on the shelves. They are there just waiting for you to take them home. Yes, they have a shorter shelf life, so you will need to stock up on them more often; however, these are the same foods that support your immune system best. So go get more veggies and fruits. You can freeze many of them to make them last longer if necessary. And make sure that they are the majority part of what you are consuming each day.

When we are in these situations we must create a plan B or even a plan C. These are our back up plans. These plans should include next best choices that we can go to when we don’t feel like making that wonderfully healthy dinner. It could mean a choice that is a little less healthy, but is still a good choice, without falling off of the bus completely and going for the worst, most processed choice.

We need to remember that what we put into our bodies is what sustains our immune system. If we put in lots of junk foods or preservatives, the result will decrease our bodies ability to fight off infections and hinder our ability to stay well. So, when you’re exhausted, choose a good back up plan and stick to it.

There is a lot of information and varying opinions about proper diets out there in cyberspace, so look at them and decide which is the best fit for you. I believe that we should be intentional about our dietary choices and take the time needed to eat more healthy. When we do eat healthy our immune system functions much better and we are able to think more clearly and stress less to make better decisions for our families during this crazy COVID19 time.

The American Society for Nutrition is great resource for dietary guidelines during COVID19 is below:
https://nutrition.org/making-health-and-nutrition-a-priority-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/

© Douglas Olson DMD, My Dental Company

3- Oral Health Care


Kids photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Make sure that you Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss once a day.

Ok, you knew I was going to say it because of what I do. But here’s why:

Our mouths are teeming with bacteria and other oral microbes. Our mouths are also the gateway to our internal bodies. What this means is simply this, the cleaner, and more bad bacteria free I keep my mouth, the better my whole body is able to function well. The more I do not keep my mouth clean, the more it creates an entry way for bacteria and viruses to enter my body and blood stream. This creates more strain and load on my body’s immune system to have to respond to. In essence, this may weaken my body’s immune response when it is needed to fight other things like viruses, etc.

So, especially during this COVID19 time it is essential that everyone get on the twice a day brushing routine.

OK, I see you- you once a day brushers. You can do better! Twice a day brushing is the standard. Try it, and feel the difference in your mouth. You will notice a big difference in how much more clean your mouth feels, and it will help with your overall health.

Other oral health tips:
Make sure to floss once a day as well. This is one more way to make sure that you are removing the plaque and bacteria that is between your teeth. Water Piks or Water flossers are another needed tool to ensure optimal oral health. Use a Water Pik each day and you will be amazed at what you continue to get out of between your teeth, even after brushing.

The big takeaway on this is – Your mouth is part of your whole body. And the cleaner you keep your mouth the healthier your body can be. It really is that simple.

Just one more thing on Oral Health Care. When things calm down with the Coronavirus, get back into your dentist soon and continue your prescribed dental work. Due to the nature of COVID19, dentistry may be perceived as nonessential except dental emergencies. Dentistry helps keep you in optimal oral health and is essential to your over- all health. The bacteria found in cavities and gum disease also travels through your body in your bloodstream. Two great examples of the importance of dentistry in our lives are: 1- When patients undergo cardiac procedures they most often have the cardiac team ask for dental clearance prior to the procedure. This means the cardiac surgeon does not want any oral infections or disease processes the heart during surgery. This means diseases in your mouth are also in your bloodstream and affect your body. 2- It is recommended that pregnant mothers have additional dental cleanings during their pregnancy due to the research indicating higher birth weights of babies being correlated to better oral health. So, we know all of you want to look out for our babies. SO, why aren’t you looking out just as much for your own oral health! It does make a vital positive difference in your life.

So think of what this means for you. The better your oral health the better your over-all health.

Happy Brushing everyone! Take this time to not just keep from getting COVID19, but become more healthy!

© Douglas Olson DMD, My Dental Company

4- Exercise

Exercise
Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

Just like our diets, there is a lot out there about exercise on the internet. We all know that we should exercise each day to help maintain optimal health. So why don’t many of us do it? And why is it especially difficult to do it when we are stressed and tired? Why is it so easy to fall off of the exercise bus?

Let’s dive in. Remember that fight or flight response that often comes with stress? Those stress hormones can be serious de-motivators and affect our concentration or ability to focus on accomplishing tasks. Also the stress response uses an incredible amount of mental and physical energy. This can create a downward spiral, especially if our stress is affecting our sleep. No wonder we fall off the bus with exercise when we have this combination going on.

So what do we do when we are struggling? I think the first thing to do is to figure out why we are struggling. Are we struggling because we are tired? Are we truly exhausted or is it that we are feeling sluggish and tired because of dehydration?

Remember, if we are not drinking enough water each day that sluggishness or feeling tired can be a side effect of dehydration. So drink some water if you’re feeling sluggish. Then see how you are feeling.

If you are truly exhausted and know that you’re not getting enough sleep. Do what your body is asking for and take a nap. Then re-evaluate after a nap. Exercising during exhaustion can often lead to injuries, so listen to your body and figure out if you are truly exhausted or is it the effects of stress or dehydration.

One of the best ways to start exercising when you are feeling stressed and unmotivated is to start with stretching.

When we are stressed, our muscles become tighter. So stretching can release those tense muscles and help you start to feel better and more motivated to continue to exercise.

Another great way to approach exercise when you do not feel motivated and you are stressed is yoga, especially restorative yoga. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I have done restorative yoga, when I was stressed, that I have not come out of it feeling a whole lot less stressed and feeling much better overall. There are a lot of internet yoga classes going on right now. It is a great exercise routine.

I think that often when we struggle with the thought of exercise, we are actually overwhelmed with the time we think it will take and the massive amount of commitment that we will need to devote to our exercise routine.

I love this concept, consistency is more important than caloric burn. What this means to me is that it is very ok to start where you are. If devoting 5 or 10 minutes a day is what you can do, do it. It is still very beneficial. The idea is to do something, and do something daily. We should work to make consistency our mantra with exercising. In my experience, even when we start small we begin to feel better and more motivated to eventually increase the amount that we exercise.

One of the most easy and beneficial ways to create an exercise routine around is walking or hiking each day. This activity has been promoted by health care professionals for years. And this is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I love hiking! There is a myriad of articles and research out there supporting the benefits of walking or hiking. The link below is great. As Nike said, “Just do it!” Do it, and do it consistently, and you will find out for yourself why it is so great!

This health line article lists many benefits of walking and the supporting research.
https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-walking

It is well known that exercise:

  • makes our bodies stronger
  • increases circulation of blood
  • stimulates the lymphatic system to work better
  • helps the body flush toxins and deliver nutrients to every cell

Another important thought about exercising is to get outside and do it in the SUN. Of course we don’t want overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, as we know it can increase our risk of skin cancer. However, we shouldn’t disregard the many wonderful benefits of sunlight. When our skin is exposed to the sun, it creates vitamin D3, which is really important to bone health and metabolic function.

Another important finding, especially during this crazy time, is exposure to sunlight during the day can help you sleep better at night. Sunlight and exercise both improves our immune function and increases endorphin production resulting in increasing our feel good emotions.

On that note, make sure your exercise routine is something that you really enjoy doing. This dramatically helps with your ability to keep consistently doing it for optimal results.

Don’t forget, consistency is more important than caloric burn

Having a daily exercise routine helps us all improve our energy levels, optimize our immune systems, stabilize our moods, resulting in decreasing our stress level. Remember when we feel good, everything in our bodies naturally works better.

© Douglas Olson DMD, My Dental Company

5- Sleep

COVID19 Health Tips
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

In my experience, one of the most essential questions asked by health care providers, when addressing your over-all health is, “How are you sleeping?” Why do they ask us this? The answer is each one knows that quality sleep is absolutely key to staying healthy and becoming healthier! This is especially true during this COVID19 time. We all need good sleep to recover, heal, and stay healthy.

What happens when we sleep? I really like Healthline’s article What is the purpose of sleep? They explain it very well and it is supported by solid research. Check it out.

https://www.healthline.com/health/why-do-we-sleep#takeaway

Essentially sleep affects our bodies ability to recover, heal, stay healthy, and so much more. Is it any wonder that when we don’t get enough sleep we are moody and can’t function or even think well?

So how does this COVID19 stress, that each of us are under, affect our sleep? Remember the fight or flight response is turned on with the associated hormones like epinephrine that is part of this system. It increases our heart rates effectively raising our blood pressure. It can also affect our respiratory system causing us to breathe shallower. The flight or flight response also affects our digestive systems causing a secretion of more acid thus creating possible acid reflux and heart burn among other things. This high stress response causes a tightening in our muscles; this can create headaches or migraines.

When we experience a chronic fight or flight response our brains think that we are constantly in danger. So our brains are often running a variety of scenarios in our minds to work through our danger. Often these thoughts are worst case scenarios creating a degree of increased fear, anger and anxiety, thus influencing an ongoing spiral of the affects of our fight or flight response, negatively affecting our bodies.

Of course with all of this going on how are each on of us supposed to sleep? We will discuss stress reduction specifically coming up. In the meantime, this link for an article from the National Sleep Foundation has some great tips for helping us get great sleep.

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips

In this stressful time I do see another sleep condition that is particularly evident in the dental chair. This condition is Sleep Apnea. This is when a person may stop breathing for a period of time related to obstruction of the airway or the brain not receiving the proper signals to breath normally.

Often when I can tell a person may have sleep apnea it is through anterior premature tooth wear. This, at progressive stages, may be combined with an elevated blood pressure. We also have our patients go through a series of questions to help determine a risk assessment.

If we are not getting enough oxygen at night, our body is under stress, and as result, we can often clamp down or bite down very, very hard. A person may even grind forward in a subconscious effort to increase the airway space to breath better. Thus creating anterior premature tooth wear.

When you notice that you are very fatigued during the day. It is important to identify the cause. Could it be that it is the stress of COVID19? Could it be that you have been feeling very fatigued for a while now and if so, why? Do you wake up in the night gasping for air? Or does your significant other notice times during the night when you have stopped breathing? Then it would be a very good idea to speak to your physician about your symptoms and a sleep study may be warranted.

Left untreated sleep apnea puts a lot of extra stress on your cardiovascular system and can increase risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. So it is very vital to know for sure why your sleep is disrupted.

Again – Check with your physician if you feel that you are having problems with sleeping. It is possible that it may even be something else. Often your MD may be able to help in many ways.

© Douglas Olson DMD, My Dental Company

6 – Stress reduction

Stress Reduction
Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash

Oh my gosh, what a needed concept right now! We are all stressed, and that stress is affecting just about every aspect of our lives. It is vitally important to get that stress under control to help us create a better, more effective responses and plans for our health, our families, and our work life.

Remember that fight or flight response that can cause us to “fall off of the bus” and have a stress, freak out session in our bodies and mind?

As a reminder, click to link here, to go back and read it again.

Now we are stressed. Remember…

Step 1 Stop – Slow down, breath, reflect, and analyze how you are doing on the basics.

Step 2 Start – You must start doing all of the essential basics.
This is about hitting the reset button to get all of our physical requirements optimized to physically decrease our stress, and optimize our bodies functional level.

The essential basics:
Water intake –
Remember what we read in water intake: “We know that studies have shown that when a person is dehydrated it leads to higher cortisol levels in the body. Remember, this is the primary stress hormone that makes it more difficult to work through our stressors. Staying hydrated helps all of us be better able to face and manage our challenges and thus our stress levels”. Drinking enough water actually helps decrease our stress level. So, don’t forget the H2O factor of stress reduction.

Diet
The Diet/ stress factor is this; when we eat nutrient dense foods that are good for our body, then we set ourselves up for optimal functioning. When we do not, we absolutely set ourselves up for increased inflammation, and potential systemic disease processes over time. This creates physical stress on our body potentiating the effects of external stress.

Oral hygiene
Remember optimal oral health and optimal oral hygiene effectively keeps your oral microbe load down. Keeping levels of bad oral microbes down essentially lowers bad microbes in our bloodstream and thus decreases physical stress in our bodies since they don’t have to work as hard to fight off these microbes in our bodies.

Sleep
With sleep it is simple, proper sleep makes everything better. When we don’t get enough productive sleep it makes everything worse. The sleep recovery, and healing processes create a more refreshed and positive you. This effectively reduces not only the physical stress but also perceived stress as well.

Exercise
We know that exercise puts a controlled load or stress on our bodies. This controlled stress on our cardiovascular system, and muscles/ body effectively: builds muscle to make our bodies stronger, releases endorphins to help elevate our moods, increases our heart rate to help it ultimately function better, and many many other positive effects. This ultimately decreases our stress both physiologically, and mentally.

The Harvard link below has a really great article about exercising to relax, take a look.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax

Don’t forget as with all of these basics, make sure that you check in with your health care provider to create a plan that is a best fit for your and your unique situation.

Other Stress Reducers
We could go for hours on this topic. Here are some of my favorites:

Breathing
Deep breathing exercises can be hugely effective in reducing stress.
The American Institute of Stress has a great article about deep breathing
https://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath

Music
Listening to music can be super helpful in reducing stress – I love listening to great music.
One of my favorites to listen to when I want to destress and relax is, The Piano Guys.
Here is their link, or check them out on Spotify.
https://thepianoguys.com/pages/videos

Laughing
This is one of my favorites. Laughter really is one of the best medicines. Pick out some of your favorite hilarious movies and movie binge on them, then see when you are laughing hysterically how much better you feel.

The Mayo Clinic has a great article detailing the health benefits of laughter.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

Spending Time with Loved Ones
This is another favorite of mine. This is my favorite place to be, with my family! Not always a cure for stress reduction, but it definitely is most of the time.

Hot Tubs and Saunas
Both of these luxuries are also a wonderful way to decrease stress levels.

Many, Many Other Ideas for Stress Reduction
There are many, many more ways to decrease stress. The really cool thing is that each of us are unique and so one size doesn’t fit all. So, during this crazy COVID19 time consider what works best or multiple things that work best for you in decreasing stress, and make it a part of your daily routine. Then mix them up to keep your routine fresh and effective.

I also really like this Healthline article about ways to reduce stress
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety

© Douglas Olson DMD, My Dental Company

7 – Mindset

Mind Set
Photo by Xevi Casanovas on Unsplash

OK, this is one of the concepts that really drives me. Our mindset and thought patterns are one of the most important things that we can gain mastery over. It is also one of the fastest things that we lose focus over when we face tough trials and challenges. We know that COVID19 is such a challenge.

A major point about this concept is that when we fall off of the bus in the other basic physical essentials like our diets, water intake, our sleep, oral hygiene, and exercise, it often creates a downward spiral to our mindset. The physiological stress that this induces may result in our internal voice saying “screw it, I don’t care”, and we almost literally jump off of that bus! This can be often due to those physical needs not being met well.

So, I cannot stress enough, how important it is to reset our efforts on the essential physical basics to keep us physiologically healthy to ensure we can be more effective at mentally creating the mindset that we desire. That being said, I also believe that all of our actions and physiology are dramatically affected by what happens in our minds. So, keeping both healthy is extremely important for optimizing our overall well-being and health.

This is why it is so important that when we fall off of the bus due to tough challenges in our lives we stop and evaluate how we are doing with the physical essentials, working on the areas we have slacked. Then watch how much easier it is to get on to consistently improving our mindset and thought processes.

Remember, when we see a snake on the hiking trail, or when get into an argument with a co-worker, our flight or flight response kicks on, we have instantaneous thoughts that accompany these processes as well. This creates a neurochemical reaction that causes physiological responses in our body, and helps create an emotion like fear or anger. Chronic stress may keep us in a level of this state proportionate to the level of stress that we are currently experiencing.

Our emotions are really insightful tools to give us greater feedback to what our thought processes are that are creating these feelings. When we recognize that our emotions are not the ones that are the most healthy to enable us to make the best decisions, such as fear or anger, we can change them.

We start by understanding that we can control our thoughts! However, we need to be present in the moment to understand how.

Most of the thoughts and feelings that we go through each day are primarily habitual and from the past. We have a quasi automatic mode that we run on for many of the actions that we do each day. Eating, getting dressed, driving etc., often our primary responses to our external environment are a series of habitual practices and thought processes. Our bodies become used to these thought patterns and feelings that we go through each day.

Often when we try to change those thought patterns and create new ones our bodies and minds in essence say ‘what the heck is going on here’. I am used to the old habits and thought processes. And due to this we often generate old memories that take us back in the direction of the old patterns and habits, that release the old neuro-chemical reactions to keep us in the familiar state. That is why it can be so hard to change to new thought patterns and habits; we are not only fighting to change our thoughts, we are fighting to change our deeply ingrained neuro-chemical/physiological reactions to those thoughts. Meaning we are changing our whole being, both body and
mind.

So, with all of the craziness of COVID19, or most other challenges for that matter, how do we really change and grow in our thoughts and mindset?

1- We have to absolutely dedicate time each day to work on ourselves!

We need self care, and time for self growth. Just like anything else that we want to become great at, we have to dedicate time to it.

For those of you who are thinking, “Great, I have very limited time already, how am I supposed to do this?” I want to share a couple of things.

First, as Simon Sinek says, “Find your why”. If our why is big enough, then we find a way to make it happen.

Help with Why –
Most people have loved ones and friends that they want to BE THERE FOR, and would do anything for. People in our lives who benefit from our love and our attention and our service. When we look for our WHY, I say we look at them. I believe it comes down to this, if I can become my best self, I am also my best self for the ones I love the most! And I can provide a better self for them and me. Just like me, our loved ones want you around for a long time and even more when we are becoming better versions of ourselves each day.

Being better mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually for ourselves and the ones we love most is a pretty great place to start for a powerful why!

Dedicating time
For me, first thing in the morning is best. I am able to start my day off right. Start with the time that you can. When I started I began with half an hour, then I progressed to an hour and more. I believe the key here is start where you are and when you start to see what this can do for you, add more time. I actually get up at 4:30 am to start my miracle morning. It is a little tough, but I absolutely love this time before I go to work. Remember, when our WHY is big enough we find a way. Now, if you are worried about sleep, go to bed a little earlier so you don’t lose out.

The important point here is to find a time that is best for you. Remember what we said in the exercise section – CONSISTENCY IS BETTER THAN CALORIC BURN – The same applies here. Consistent effort, over time equals growth and progress. Remember this is a marathon not a sprint.

I believe that it is very illuminating that some of the most successful individuals of our time dedicate many hours a day to their own self care and self growth. We should all be on a quest to follow their lead and do the same.

I really like Hal Elrod’s book, Miracle Morning. I began by using this book as a guide to start my day with a “Miracle Morning” and man does it ever make a difference. Starting with things like visualization, meditation, gratitude journaling, exercising etc., can create an amazing start to each our mornings. And it sets the stage for a great day of our own making. You can locate Hal’s book on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Morning-Not-So-Obvious-Guaranteed-Transform/dp/0979019710

I combine the Miracle Morning with Dr. Joe Dispenza’s Morning Meditation and Visualization. Dr. Joe also has a great evening meditation to do before you fall asleep.

What I really like about Dr. Joe Dispenza’s meditation is the visualization part of it. It really helps me create my day visually before I start it. Try it, I think you’ll love it.

https://www.amazon.com/Morning-Meditation/dp/B071SBHD39/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=dr.+joe+dispenza+morning+meditation&qid=1587251842&s=books&sr=1-8-catcorr

If you really want to do a deeper dive into your thoughts and how they affect not only your body, but also your environment around you, then read Dr. Joe Dispena’s books. Two of them that I really love are:

  1. Breaking the Habit of being yourself
  2. Evolve your brain

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=dr.+joe+dispenza+books&i=stripbooks&crid=1LOYYPYPN18F3&sprefix=dr.+joe+dispenza%2Cstripbooks%2C194&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_16

Good Luck, I can’t wait to hear about your progress!

© Douglas Olson DMD, My Dental Company

8- Spiritual Congruence

Spiritual Congruence
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Hmmm, Why would I include this topic? Let’s take a look

For our purposes here, Spiritual Congruence is keeping our thoughts and our actions in harmony with our core spiritual beliefs and values.

Another word for this concept is integrity, being whole, or behaving the same regardless of where we are; acting in accordance with our beliefs.

What happens when we are not living in harmony with our core beliefs and values? I believe we create a real stressor physically to our bodies and our mind when we do not act in accordance to our core beliefs. I believe it is not too unlike when I am angry, or fearful, or frustrated. I create a neuro-chemical reaction in my brain that travels throughout my body and the same stress related hormones and signals that can create physical and psychological damage to my body and brain ultimately cause similar effects.

I realize that there are unhealthy spiritual beliefs. I am not going to dive into that here. However, if you really dive into your belief system and how it makes you feel, you can figure those out for yourself.

I absolutely believe that our spiritual/intellectual belief system, that is a part of who we are, grows and develops with us throughout our lifetimes. We become open to new ideas, both spiritually and intellectually. That is part of our wonderful life experience here on earth.

What I really want to focus on is who are you fundamentally? What do you believe? If you are unsure, take a deep look into yourself and work to understand what are your core beliefs. Take the time to investigate and find out for yourself.

I believe that we all have an innate sense of what is right and what is wrong. This is regardless of your religion. When we believe that something is right, and we choose to act against that belief, we often feel negative emotions that are associated with choosing to go against these fundamental beliefs. On the other hand, when we align our thoughts and our actions with those core “positive” spiritual beliefs we also experience positive neuro-chemical reactions within our bodies and brains that have positive results for our body and mind.

Now, this is very simplified, and it is a lot more complex than this, however, the point I would like to make is that the more we can align our thoughts and our actions with our core spiritual and intellectual beliefs the more our body and mind are in harmony. This harmony creates an optimized spiritual body connection and results in a better immune system and happier existence.

So, especially during this COVID19 time, live your beliefs; live your religion. Take the time to make a self assessment on how your life is congruent with yourself spiritually. And seek to align yourself. Then, watch one more important step fall into place to help you become your best self.

© Douglas Olson DMD, My Dental Company

Final Point
As we go through this incredible journey we call life, we find that there may be many times when through life trials, we find ourselves “falling off of the bus”; this COVID19 is such a time. The important concept is not to become discouraged when we fall off of the bus; it is to recognize that we are off, and quickly return to the bus to reach our goals and dreams. By taking a step back, evaluating how we are doing with the 8 essential basics, and then making sure that we are doing all 8 to the best of our abilities, we will not only get back on the bus, but we will be healthier, stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually and much better able to reach our goals and dreams.
Stay Safe and Healthy Everyone!

In Our Company Your Are Family!
© Douglas Olson DMD, My Dental Company

To help alleviate the burden currently placed on the ER, and avoid you being among the sick, the safest choice for your tooth pain is My Dental Company. Call 527-2626 to discuss your emergency and how we can serve you in a healthy and safe environment.