The Silver Lining

Mindset Matters More Than Ever.

By Dr. Robin Rose

We are living through unprecedented times, the likes that none of us have ever seen and hopefully will never experience again. This virus is ripping through the world and our country at lightning speed. This predator is more contagious and infectious than any other disease we have seen in our lifetime making it seem almost supernatural. But, does it have magical powers? That is how most of us have created it in our minds, including me.

As a physician, I’m expect to have all the answers. I provide my patients with solutions to their problems on a daily basis through my years of education, experience, and constant review of the current medical literature. However, there is no definitive treatment for what we are facing right now. I’m overwhelmed by the uncertainty, and this makes me feel unsafe. I can only imagine how it feels for the rest of you.

The new normal in our households is exhausting and includes the stress of social distancing in public, being gloved and masked when we go out, disinfecting our goods when we bring them home from the supermarket, and obsessive hand-washing. I am a physician seeing patients, homeschooling my kids, housekeeper, chef, dishwasher, and a full-time mom.

COVID-19 is doing a number on my emotional and mental health. Regrettably, I fell victim to the magical powers of this virus. I am so used to having all the answers and being able to “fix” what comes my way. I have spent hundreds of hours researching the virus (that I have shared with all of you in our previous posts), yet none of the work made me feel better. Having a strong support system filled with love and compassion from my husband, children, and friends, didn’t keep me grounded. For weeks, I was paralyzed with fear, anxiety, and panic, I started meditating, exercising, and doing breathing exercises. Nothing worked.

Eventually, a few of my most closest friends pushed me past my COVID-19 COMPULSIVE DISORDER. They reminded me I am resilient, and that gratitude lies deep within me. A light bulb went off. I realized right then, that there isn’t a pill for this ill. After all those days of research, trying to figure out how to beat this virus, I suddenly remembered the multitude of peer-reviewed studies that have been published on mindfulness, resilience, and gratitude, and how the power of the mind can positively affect your health.

The meditating, exercising, and other healthy habits that I prescribed myself were never going to help because my mind and thoughts were not in order, and my heart was not in the right place. And therefore, these thoughts were becoming habitual. At the end of the day, I am not just a physician, but a mother, wife, and friend that needs to be strong for my patients, family, and loved ones. These people in my life depend on me and I needed to snap out of it.

The world around us is unpredictable and chaotic, now more than ever. People are losing jobs, closing down businesses, getting sick and losing loved ones to this beast of a virus. And unfortunately, we have absolutely NO control over this pandemic. That’s difficult for people to grasp, especially for a control freak like me. But, we do have the power to control our own world. My first prescription: take control of your thoughts.

My wise mindset coach, Liz Nicklas, explained it to me once so eloquently- you employ your mind, not the other way around. You tell it what to do. Once I absorbed this perspective, my mindset started to shift. I became the boss of my mind, telling it what I wanted to think, and this improved how I felt, breaking this cycle of insanity that had been paralyzing me. I realized I have more power over myself than this magical virus, and so do you. I can empathize with many of you who are feeling the same way, and it’s a spectrum of course- some experiencing a little bit of what I am describing, and others even more. But, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Once I started feeling better from the first treatment I prescribed myself, I wanted to optimize my regimen with prescription #2: nourishing my resilience and gratitude by focusing on the “good” I have in my life right now. I reflected and asked myself, “Is this virus magical because it can make us sick so easily, or is it magical because it gave us the gift of time- to take a minute, look around and breathe.” I want to believe the latter is true. For those of us who are thankfully healthy and with our families, it has given us a unique opportunity- to live in the present and bond with our families, and have quality time with them that we would have never otherwise had. Maybe it’s magical because I am doing things that I never have the time to do. I take walks by myself, or with my husband, kids and the dogs. I can take a moment to look up at the sky and appreciate the beautiful formation of the clouds, or look into the yard and see the flowers starting to bloom. I actually notice my kids laughing together and bonding more than I ever thought they would during our absurdly fast-paced life.

My gratitude is nourished as my resilience gains strength from the little things that I have missed over the years that I can now stop and appreciate: seeing the few little curls that are left streaming down my older daughter’s neck, my son’s smile that brightens any room, or infectious laugh of my youngest daughter. This is what fills my heart with love and fosters my fortitude.

A friend sent me a recording of Eat Pray Love author, Elizabeth Gilbert, reminiscing about something she learned from one of her closest friends that she lost to cancer. Her message she shared was so simple and sensible: your heart is who you are and your head is where you live. When we feed our hearts through forgiveness, redemption, grace, compassion, and humility, then we will grow. And to change where we live in our heads, we need to all practice meditation, stillness, forgiveness towards ourselves and others, and again practice humility. This is hard work and does not come easy to most people. I have struggled with mastering this over the years, and have been resolute in my focus, because I have learned how much it affects my own health.

This is one reason I founded Terrain Health. Our approach to health and longevity is antiquated. The current system is broken. We need to heal from the inside out. We need to learn and understand how the four pillars of health- nutrition, exercise, sleep and mindfulness are all intertwined and affect our well-being, and in turn the heath of the people we love. I am learning how to master this myself and for my family. I am committed to taking this journey with you.

I encourage you to take what I have prescribed for this pandemic. You will see results. Remember, if we nurture our hearts and minds, we will evolve, and in the end become more resilient, be filled with gratitude, and live longer, healthier, loving lives.