Have you ever paused to notice how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising and being outdoors is an effective way to break this cycle and help to boost our mental and physical well-being especially when facing extreme challenges. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind. And the reverse is true as well. Relaxing your mind through quieting your thoughts by mediating or sitting peacefully focused on your breathing will lessen physical stress in the body.

I have committed to my physical and mental well-being by regularly mediating most days 15 – 30 min., walking 10,000 steps each day, doing yoga 2 times a week and using weights to enhance the strength of my muscles, get toned and increase my bone density.I downloaded a free activity tracker on my phone so I can watch my progress with walking steps each day. And I downloaded brain.fm app that works perfectly for timed mediation and work focus with music and sounds that resonate for me.

At first it was hard to create these new habits, so I started slowly. Each day, I did my best. Then after a week or two, it gradually became a way of life. I need challenges to get me started and to keep me going so the challenge of achieving at least 10,000 steps per day was fun.  As it is hard to mediate and stop the thoughts in my head, I found the timed mediation with music and sounds enables me to more easily relax into a quiet space. Yes, there are days when I don’t mediate or do the steps, but they are few and I have been going at it for over a year. When those days happy, I just allow it for whatever reason, and then get right back to my goals the next day doing what makes me feel the best.

I love being outdoors walking, jogging and hiking, and completing 10,000 steps can take 2 hours if I walk or climb hills, and sometimes more if I travel to a park. That is a lot of time in a workday when I am meeting with clients or facilitating groups. As much as exercise is good for me in so many ways, on some days I allow myself to walk 7,500 steps, which is a minimum for good health. I found that my program for me still works well with reduced steps maybe 1-2 days a week.

The bottom line is to find what works best for you when you are living a life filled with change and challenge. How can you be and give your best? The most important step is to take care of you and then you can better take care of your work an

I feel so much better that moving your body and being outdoors will help to clear thoughts can reduce physical and mental stress.

Your mind needs to be sharp to continue working, to look for a job, to figure how to best keep your business alive and just to live and take care of yourself and your family.

As a reminder of what has not changed nor is closed is the outdoors, fresh air and nature. Just yesterday, I walked on Lover’s Lane at the Presidio in San Francisco. Other people were walking and we all practiced respectful physical distancing. Getting outdoors is good for immunity especially in the sunshine, which is healing and feels so good.

As I was on the trail, I overheard a conversation between two women who were walking together six feet apart. They both worked at the same company and were talking about a project and how much they enjoyed this way of walking together rather than walking alone. Even though you should stay physically distant from most people it does not mean you have to be socially distant. And the shelter-in-place orders state that you can go outside to walk or jog.

After I get back home from exercising in the outdoors I feel so much better with more energy and a positive spirit. This makes me so much more productive and creative as I sit down at my desk to resume my work.

How to Find Sanity, Well-Being & Better Health During a Challenging Time