Two Ways to Stay Physically and Psychologically Healthy Right Now
About Dr. Tasha Eurich
Dr. Tasha Eurich is an organizational psychologist, researcher, and New York Times best-selling author of INSIGHT and Bankable Leadership. She writes and speaks about psychology and business, and her life’s work is to help leaders and professionals become the best of who they are and what they do. Thinkers 50 has named her one of the top 30 emerging management thinkers in the world and a top 50 world leader in coaching – and she ranked #13 on the Global Gurus list of organizational culture experts.
I spent January and February in a keynote frenzy. March was going to be one for the records, with ten speeches booked. The future was bright…and busy.
No one knew how much the world was about to change.
The calls started on February 28th. A few days later, nearly every event in March (and some in April) had been cancelled. The good news? Clients were rescheduling. The bad news? I was grounded for several weeks (at least).
It was as if I’d been living on a high-speed train—then, without warning, the universe had pulled the emergency break, bringing everything to a whiplash-inducing halt.
After returning home from a speech in New York last week, the reality finally hit me. Except for a few meetings with consulting clients, my calendar was clear…and I was beside myself.
Some of my friends struggled to understand my anguish around my forced speaking holiday. In a way, it’s been helpful to realize how much speaking means to me, and that I’m truly happy on the road. But just days into my involuntary grounding, I was gripped by quiet desperation.
I suspect I’m not alone. Around the world, many things have screeched to a halt. Perhaps you’ve cancelled a work trip or vacation. Or your company has instituted temporary teleworking. Or you have a higher risk of complications and you’re smartly following suggestions to stay home as much as possible.
In the public discourse, there are some great resources to help reduce the spread of the virus and manage our stress around it. But staying psychologically and physically healthy during this sudden downshift has been largely overlooked.
Here’s why it matters. Research has shown that periods of high activation (action, joy, stress) immediately followed by low activation (inactivity, stillness, boredom) come with physical and psychological risks.
Physically, during high activation, our bodies release hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline to keep us “up.” When we slow down, they drop sharply, compromising our immune system. Psychologically, downshifting suppresses the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine, which can worsen our mood and trigger behavior like overeating.
The bottom line: our brains and bodies are most vulnerable afterperiods of high activity. If you’ve ever come down with a cold on the second day of vacation or holiday break, you have experienced what researchers have dubbed the “let-down effect.”
How can we keep ourselves healthy and sane during the downshift? Here are two tips.
First, researcher Marc Schoen suggests keeping ourselves “slightly revved up” physically and mentally—not in a stressful way, but in a way that keeps us active. In that spirit, I’m inventing one daily adventure. Right now, I can’t wander the streets of London or see my friends in faraway places. But I can find a new neighborhood coffee shop, take Fred the poodle to her first dog park, and paint my living room. Research shows that we don’t need to leave the house to counter the let-down effect: even a five-minute stair climb or crossword puzzle can work wonders.
My second tip is to search for the silver lining.Although this new reality is disappointing and scary, it might present rare opportunities. As one example, it’s been ages since I’ve spent so many consecutive nights at home with my family.
Here’s another. As you may know, I’m working on a new book to help people understand and overcome interpersonal injuries at work, from small slights to big betrayals (which I’m calling, ever so scientifically, “bad things”).
In the last week, I went “all in,” assembling and training a nine-person research team to interview hundreds of working adults on their experiences with “bad things.”This study will be an unprecedented opportunity to scientifically understand the difficult (and all-too-common) experience of being slighted, wronged, or mistreated at work.
Have you had an experience with interpersonal injury at work? Today, I’d like to invite you to sign up for a confidential, 20-minute phone interview with a member of our research team(especially if you have any unexpected free time 😊).You won’t just be supporting science—you’ll be the first to receive our results.
If you can help, please click this link to choose a time that works for you. We’d also be grateful if you forwarded this invitation to anyone else who might be interested.
I hope this message has given you a few ideas to adapt to our new reality. It is my hope that the national and international community can come together, help each other, and above all, not panic. We will get through this.
Please let me know how you’re doing, and know that I am sending love, strength, and health to every member of our incredible community.
To Learn more about Dr. Eurich contact [email protected]
Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency. www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]