Hey everyone, I wrote this blog for my ministry Secret Habit and have posted my blogs in the past with gratitude from others, so here I am, posting this one for whoever needs encouragement and help Its hard to escape the constant intake of COVID-19 updates, government decisions, and precautions we are supposed to take… TV, Social Media, News apps, Radio, etc, all offer us what we do need to know, but they also offer us negativity that we don’t need to be taking in. The constant intake of hysteria, chaos, fear, lockdowns, number of infected people, and whatever else we see, is causing our bodies damage, and we must take note of this truth. This pandemic is a lot more than just a virus that we either need to avoid or one that we must ensure we don’t spread… We need to be aware that this pandemic can also be a breeding ground for addiction, mental health issues, and a wide variety of painful physical symptoms. You have likely heard the old saying “stress kills”? Well, because of the constant stress most of us are currently living in, the thoughts, the feelings, the actions, and the lives we are living may seem out of our control… When we begin to feel this way, the very feeling of being out of control may drive us to feel even more stress. When we begin to live a life that seems out of control, some of the main emotions we may feel are anger, fear, and anxiety. These 3 emotions are major catalysts to the stressors we deal with each and every day. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, because there is an obvious heightening of emotions, its easy to feel even more out of control than ever before. The way one reacts to such emotions is a key factor in how healthy they are able to be. If someone is a naturally fearful person, the stress they would be going through in this time may be astronomical… If you are the kind of person who always imagines the worst-case scenario, always wants to control the situation, can’t rest until they know all the details, and whatever else comes with living in fear, then you are probably struggling a lot with this current season of life. If our whole day revolves around “what if”, we will be living in constant stress, and this very stress is what can cause damage to our bodies much worse than the COVID-19 virus. When the mind is sick, meaning, it naturally thinks negative thoughts, it gives into negative emotions, and it acts out of pain/reaction, it will inevitably lead to a sick body. When I say “body", this includes the brain, and when I say “mind” I am talking about the workings of the brain. If you took a second and evaluated yourself since COVID-19 hit the news, is it possible that you have more tension in your neck? Are you are sleeping less? Maybe you have had headaches? Or maybe you find yourself relapsing into an addiction again and again? This is what happens when the mind is stressed and the body begins to react. There is a lot to be said about how the body reacts to stress... I won’t get into all of that in this short blog, but make sure you check into the resources I offer at the end. Gabor Mate is an expert in this field, and one his main findings is that the childhood trauma we carry into our adult lives is a key factor as to why we live stressful, bogged down lives. Its situations such as COVID-19 that re-trigger the trauma and cause us to feel the pain, but in ways unlike before. I have had my fair share of physical symptoms in my lifetime that were able to be traced back to being 100% psychological, and stress-related. I used to have such debilitating Carpal Tunnel (or so I was told) that I wore braces most of the day, couldn’t do my own dishes and had trouble sleeping… I used to wear glasses, orthotics, knee braces, and I struggled to wear a necktie to work because the tightness around my neck would cause me so much pain I could not bear it… These, and many more painful symptoms caused me grief, but to make a long story short, I wanted to share with you that I have lived a life of subconscious stress, and it was miserable… yes, I still have stress, and it does lead to different types of physical pain at times, but I now realize that it's my body’s way of telling me something is wrong internally and that it is not an injury or a problem that needs physical attention. I know some of this can be touchy, but its clear when reading from people like Gabor Mate and Dr Sarno (Founder of “TMS") that this is all very real. Not only does the stress affect our bodies, but it can begin to affect our minds as well. If you're in constant pain from different stressors, not only is your life ruled by this stress, but your body is now working in a deficit… Sadly, the pain you will feel physically will lead to you feeling it emotionally. This can lead to depression, isolation, self hatred, restlessness, and much more. There has been an influx of mental health issues over the years, and I wonder if a pandemic such as right now will be a catalyst for more cases than ever? These are the types of questions we have to be asking because when we ask, we can shed light that there are answers and things can make sense. I want to take a moment and tie this into how all of this can lead people into beginning, or furthering their addictions such as pornography. Simply put, porn, and other addictions, are actually nothing more than symptoms. One may watch porn because they long for something more than the stress, anger, fear, or defeatism they feel… In such emotional states, porn becomes the coping mechanism to numb the longing for more because one likely has no idea how to find this so called “more” they need. Bringing this full circle to COVID-19, one may feel the stress of the situation, internalize these stressors, long for relief, but seek it in the wrong places such as pornography. I know its a big idea, but if you think about it, it truly does make sense… Lets go back to the “stress kills” quote for a quick second - Do you believe this is true? If so, then this all makes sense, if not, pick up a book or a resource recommended below and my guess is that you may think otherwise. Remember, the word “kill” doesn’t have to mean sudden death, it can mean slow deterioration of things that are good and healthy… This my friends is exactly what’s happening. 5 tips on what you can do today to take care of your mental and physical health: Journal out the negative and replace it with truth: When you write out the thoughts and feelings on paper, you get to see them for what they are, lies. Make it a practice to write out your thoughts and feelings each morning, and each evening so that you can see how things shift throughout the day. The second piece to this exercise is to counter the lies you are thinking/feeling with truth. Ask yourself, “What is something true that I can believe today?” - You may write down a scripture, a motivational quote, an encouraging word someone once gave you. Whatever it is, ensure that it is believable, positive, and true, and you will start to fill your mind with what’s right and dilute what is wrong. Assess yourself: Something that is so important to do is to evaluate and assess. Heres the reality - Something has to happen for us to have an injury and feel REAL physical pain, and if we are dealing with emotional pain, we can actually trace it back to where it may have come from. If you feel some pain, some depression, something at all today, stop and ask yourself “Where could this be coming from?”… Maybe your back started hurting in the morning because you went to bed angry? Maybe your knee has been hurting but you didn’t do anything to hurt it? Or maybe you have some sort of issue but Doctors have said: “There's nothing else we can do”? All our pains and problems are to be assessed so that we can live a healthy life of truth and exit the life of stress and lies. Speak to yourself, rather than listen: When you listen to yourself, you are listening to all the negativity of your subconscious mind. To take control of your life and live in a healthy state during this COVID-19 pandemic, and for the rest of your life, you need to begin talking to yourself. Tell yourself how and what you want to think - This is referred to as “thought coaching” and it is crucial to you getting out of the routine you may stuck in. Combine this with your journaling and you will be well on your way to starting the day and ending the day on a healthy note. ACTUALLY take care of yourself: When the body speaks, it is doing so for a reason. It may speak through painful physical or emotional symptoms as I had already explained, or it may speak in the opposite way, through healthy and affirming symptoms. I want to encourage you to begin taking care of yourself, and to do that, you need to understand what that even means! Check out this blog I wrote for some more depth to this subject… For now, lets talk about what to do: You need to learn what is actually fulfilling to you, what is actually pleasuring to you, and what is actually something you like, but never do for yourself… This does not have to invoice money, going places, live entertainment or whatever else your mind may initially think of. The world we live in has made sex, food, and mental stimulation our “go-to” for pleasure, but honestly, ask yourself, is it pleasure? Do you feel better after? Its time to find a handful of things you love to do, and give yourself the grace to do them when you need a break, earned a reward, or have a day off. Give your mind and body the pleasure it deserves! Get yourself connected: I know, it seems hard to connect right now due to COVID-19… But hey, the online world is loaded with places to connect! You can use forums, group chats, video calls, and so much more to stay connected. In your situation, it will be worth getting connected to the right communities, ones that are beneficial to your specific situation. If your body and/or mind is full of pain, an example of a fantastic forum would be the TMS Wiki Forum which is linked below. This is a place where you can read amazing stories of healing, get better informed on the practises, and post whatever you want to get yourself involved in the community. There are Facebook groups, Reddit groups, Church live streams, etc to get involved with, you just need to take the first step and say hi Bonus resources: Gabor Mate - When the body says no Dr Sarno - The Mind body prescription TMS Wiki Psychology Today Unwanted - How sexual brokenness reveals our way to healing Your brain on porn Ps, You can also find Gabor Mate on several podcasts which I have found to be profound in my studies. Disclaimer: I am not an expert, simply someone with a story, a passion, and a desire to educate. I am sharing knowledge that I have taken from others such as Gabor Mate and Dr Sarno and I hope that you would seek them out as well. I want to note that not everything is psychological… It may sound like I am pinpointing that in my writing but I am certainly not. You must get checked by a doctor if you think something could be more severe, but keep in mind, doctors are in the business of selling drugs and making money too… That is why this is groundbreaking because our bodies can often tell us much more than a doctor.