AMU APU Health & Fitness Mental Health Original

Overcoming the ‘Pandemic Wall’ of Fear in Stressful Living

If you feel like you might be about to run full-steam into a “pandemic wall” – physically, mentally, nutritionally and spiritually – you are not alone. Most often, some simple precautions can help you avoid a crash. 

During statewide or municipal lockdowns due to the pandemic, ongoing stress can suddenly escalate, causing rapid reductions in aspects of health, finances due to possible career changes, and relationship problems. That results in many people stopping exercising, lapsing into low-quality sleep, saying things they later regret and even stress eating after years of avoiding junk food.

Individuals with underlying health issues such as obesity and diabetes need to be even more proactive than before the pandemic. Daily routines are disrupted due to the greater risk of sickness, hospitalization and even death from COVID-19.

As a long-time personal trainer, I am very aware that you can lead a diabetic to fiber, but you cannot make him chew. Science-based dietary recommendations are important, but eventually everyone makes decisions for themselves.

Seeking Out Comfort Foods from the Stress-Free Days of Childhood Is Common

Seeking out comfort foods from the stress-free days of childhood is common; mine were hot dogs, potato chips, and greasy fries at baseball games with my friends and family. I must personally remind myself that God created avocados, not Twinkies, and to only eat foods that were recently living things, as opposed to synthetically manufactured food items, such as “laboratory meats.”

I strive to eat mostly foods grown on plants, not manufactured chemical creations that previous generations would not even recognize as food. I also avoid canned products because beans, for instance, that were once alive were possibly canned several years ago.  

Even elite athletes can experience almost debilitating fear of the unknown and sometimes find methods to cover it up to fool even expert psychologists until they finally “hit the wall.” When I was coaching, I told my athletes that our goal was to win every game and that our coaching staff had designed an initial game strategy and conditioning plan to help us achieve that goal. We may have had to change our initial plans during the course of a long season, but we never changed our goal to win every game and be victorious at the season-culminating championships.

My sports career has taught me to “make lemonade out of lemons” and to know that unanticipated stressors are often necessary to build up the “weakest link in the chain” who limits overall performance. Any stumbling block has the potential to become a stepping stone if it is approached correctly.

In my experience, an over-anxious mind functions like a combination lock. Even if you cannot remember the exact combination, it is important to never give up turning the dial until you finally hear the “click.”

The Negative Energy Released from Incorrectly Meditating Increases Poor Health Behaviors

The negative energy released from incorrectly meditating on never being able to hit the right combination is extremely self-defeating. It increases poor health behaviors even when you might not initially realize the cumulative effects that sedentary living, poor nutrition and insomnia are having. Meditating on fear has set many athletes off course both physically and mentally.

However, anyone can be coached to understand their personal internal and external “locks” and to learn from prior stressful experiences how best to never revert to replaying those “broken records” that cause energy-draining fear. Dealing with setbacks is inevitable in all aspects of life. But appropriate counseling greatly helps us to set reasonable short- and long-term goals while recovering from any mental lockdown-related disappointment. 

I personally think of my body and mind like a traffic light with green, yellow and red signals. On green light days when I feel good, stressful activities are not a problem. On yellow light days when I feel moderately anxious, I proceed with caution toward activities that have the potential to aggravate my health.

On days when I feel my body has the potential to lapse into the red danger zone, I appropriately curtail all stressful activities, particularly those causing combined physical and mental tension. A gram of prevention is worth a kilogram of cure. So I strive to pay prompt attention to the first sparks of extreme stress, knowing that simple awareness and taking appropriate precautions can prevent crashing into an often-avoidable “pandemic wall.” 

I also strive to maintain my spiritual health by forgiving nature and society for past wrongs, and I also forgive myself for having made impulsive decisions. That’s a tough lesson I learned from financial miscalculations I made while under stress.

Unlike God, the stock market does not forgive those who do not know what they are doing. I tell my children that I really never had a failure in life, but I have had many educational experiences that did not go my way.

It is a privilege to be alive, even if you are sick and frustrated. It’s really not the cards you’re dealt in life, but how you play them.

Daniel G. Graetzer, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the School of Health Sciences and enjoys giving students the latest statistics when instructing SPHS 500, Statistics for Sports and Health Sciences. Daniel also teaches a variety of mathematical sciences courses for Global University, including Statistical Techniques, Business Mathematics, Mathematics for Liberal Arts, and College Algebra.

Comments are closed.