Inspiring Author Tells You How To SuperCharge Your Life – When You Need It Most

SuperCharge your life! Try these simple techniques to make the most of each day during the pandemic.

Female Authors

Guest author: Dr Judy Ho

Dr Judy Ho, Ph. D., ABPP, ABPdN is a licensed and triple board-certified Clinical Neuropsychologist based in Los Angeles, a tenured Associate Professor at Pepperdine University, podcast host, and published author. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she’s also a regular on the set of The Doctors. Her new podcast will help you SuperCharge your life, including steps you can take now – even while we socially distance.

Anytime is a great time to SuperCharge your life! Check out these simple to use techniques to make the most of each day during the social distancing directive.

 

 

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1. SuperCharge Your Sleep

Sleep is repairing, recharging, and helps benefit our physical and mental wellness which we so need right now! Sleep is crucial for us to be able to make good decisions, regulate emotions well, be in a better mood, boost immunity, improve attention and memory, lower blood pressure, maintain healthy weight, reduce diabetes, and keep our heart healthy! We need all of the above to be able to withstand the stress and unknowns that come with this pandemic.

 

To improve your sleep:

– Make time for sunlight each morning. Depending on your skin type, aim for 10-20 minutes of sunlight in the AM, even if it is indirect (via a windowsill). This helps to regulate your circadian rhythm which is important for sleep.

– Have productive hours and relaxation hours. Very easy right now to just mix work and pleasure in all areas of the house. Make sure you have hours for work (and locations within the home associated with work) and mimic the idea of “leaving work” where you stop working by early evening or late afternoon and go to the other areas of your house associated with relaxation.

– Exercise. This is very important to try to get good sleep. Be creative around the house. Dance, exercise to a YouTube video, clean the house at a fast pace to music! Do this earlier in the day (before early afternoon) if you want to improve sleep rather than disrupt it.

– Downshift in the evening. Turn all of your devices to night shift or wear blue-blocking glasses. This is very helpful as it can help with the unwinding process.

– 1 hour to sleep time, start a relaxing bedtime routine. Power down devices, take your time to do a bedtime routine. Slowly get into your bedtime clothes, brush your teeth, use sensory experiences to enhance relaxation like candles, soft music, and aromatherapy. Do a relaxing activity like reading a chapter in a book, listen to a podcast, have soft conversation with family, and listen to your favorite music.

– Don’t get into bed until you’re tired. If you aren’t tired, don’t get into bed because you will lie awake being anxious about not sleeping. Wait until you are a 8/10 of tiredness before you get into bed so you don’t spend too much time laying awake in your bed and associating your bed with anxiety.

– Make sure bed is only for sex and sleep. Do not bring snacks or work into bed! Associations are important so make sure the bed is associated only with relaxation.

 

Dr Judy Ho SuperCharge

2. SuperCharge Human Connection

We are wired for physical contact as humans. We are social animals! There are extensive studies on the importance of human touch for all mammals. For example, the wire v. cloth monkey experiment where experiments were set up for wire mothers v. cloth mothers – even though the wire mothers provided food, the monkeys in the experiment spent more of their time hanging out with the stuffed animal monkeys.
The benefit of human touch is well documented. Human touch is essential to increase the production of both endorphins (feel good chemical) and oxytocin (the bonding chemical). These two neurotransmitter together make us feel safe, decrease fight or flight inclinations, resets our biology and helps us to relax and for our cells to regenerate and repair. It is truly essential to our well being and our physical and emotional survival. These hormones help to relieve pain and stress. In addition, cortisol decreases and dopamine and serotonin (feel good chemicals that boost mood and well being) also increase.
The good news is, there are alternate ways to satisfy human touch without people close by. First, cuddling with soft items (stuffed animals, weighted blankets) can produce similar effects and produce the types of responses in your body that you get when you receive human touch. People have reported experiencing decrease of cortisol (stress hormone) and an increase of serotonin and dopamine (feel good chemicals).
Second, if your perception of social community is good and you don’t perceive yourself as being isolated, that is a huge boost. Research shows that it is the perception of social isolation that is really harmful. So increase meaningful connection and establish what that means for you. For some people, it means getting on a phone call once a day with a loved one. For others, they need to see the person even if it is virtually, so Zoom or FaceTime is more helpful. For others, it may be having a shared experience. For example, calling someone on Zoom and eating your lunch together or watching a TV show together and being able to comment on it in real time with a friend or family member. The goal is to find out what makes you feel like a bigger part of a community. This could also mean volunteering or helping and contributing in some way, and right now it’s mostly virtual like joining an online support group or helping an organization virtually gather funds for the needy. Whatever the case, making sure you do something meaningful for your social connection daily will also boost the same chemicals discussed above.
Dr Judy Ho

3. SuperCharge Happiness

There are actually two-types of happiness, and sometimes we get caught up in chasing the type that isn’t going to yield fruitful returns especially during times of challenge or difficulty.
As a society we chase hedonic happiness often – this is the type of happiness Sensation-based pleasure: joking, having a great meal, first moment of vacation, first big paycheck or the next several ones. This form of happiness is ruled by the law of diminishing returns. This type of happiness rarely lasts longer than a few hours at a time.
In contrast, Values-based happiness comes from living a life well-lived with meaning and with the principles you want to stand for. This type of satisfaction comes from the sense that our lives have MEANING and fulfill some larger purpose. It represents a spiritual source of satisfaction, stemming from our deeper purpose and values. This form of happiness is not ruled by the law of diminishing returns – so there is no limit to how meaningful our lives can be.

 

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To tap into this, find out what your top values are (I have a hotline to a free resource – a values card sort – which is an activity you can do to find out what your top values are). Then, create goals and activities for your life each day that are connected to these values in some way. That is going to give you a deep sense of happiness that can’t be taken away from you during stressful times. Even during difficult times, as long as we are making contact with our top values, we are going to feel great about our day and the way we are living our lives. It is not about how many goals we are checking off, but rather the process of living a life that is guided by values and consistent with our values.

4. SuperCharge Mindset and Choose Optimism 

Optimism is a choice. There is so much in this world we can’t control, but one thing we can is our own mindset. Yes, it’s hard because there is a lot of negativity out there. The fear is realistic and understandable. But we can still change the way we look at what’s happening.
Optimism starts with gratitude. Start your day by saying out loud to your family 3 small things you are grateful for or write them in your journal.
Second, spend 5 minutes a day imaging a brighter future. Research shows the this helps to turn negative thinking into a more positive one. Roll it into your mindfulness or meditation practice, using it as a form of visualization. Do this with a partner or a friend, where you dialogue about a brighter future together as a creative way to do this exercise.

 

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Third, when you do have negative thoughts, know that it is normal, but ask yourself the A-B-C question. “Is the thought accurate, balanced, or complete?” If not, try to reframe the thought using this simple tool “Yes…But.”Acknowledge something that isn’t going well, then recognize something that you are actively doing to improve the situation. For example, “yes…I lost my job, but…I am finding new ways to connect with my family and I will look for another job next week.”

5. SuperCharge Communication

People are reporting shorter fuses and getting into more arguments with their loved ones during the pandemic. Stress is high and we often take our frustrations out on those closest to us. Yet good communication is so important especially during this time so you can support your loved ones and also so that you can get the support that you need.
To improve your communication, here’s an acronym to help up your communication and negotiation game: V.A.S.E.!
Communication skills are so key for us to achieve our goals, have good relationships, and navigate conflicts. I love using this handy tool from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to remember the steps to take when you’ve tried to be assertive in a situation, try to set good boundaries, but the other person doesn’t agree and you need to put your negotiating hat on to try to get to a solution where you feel heard and you can move towards resolving the issue.
VALIDATE the other person’s needs and concerns. Then, state your own needs with an I statement. For example, “I understand you need some alone time after a busy workday. But I also would like some help with managing housework and chores.”
ASK the other person for a compromise solution that incorporates both of your needs. Try to incorporate both their needs and also your needs. “Can we try leaving 7-8 pm every night for some joint work we need to do on the house together?”
SUGGEST alternatives if the first compromise doesn’t work, and this should involve the other person. Take turns brainstorming ideas until you find one that you both agree to try.
EXPRESS your gratitude and mention one thing that you liked about your conversation. “Thank you for being willing to compromise, I appreciate you not getting defensive during the conversation and hearing me out.”
Dr Judy Ho
PLUS: To help you SuperCharge YOUR life, we have an amazing contest that you can enter here. Enter to learn all you need to know about Judy’s amazing new podcast, and be in with the chance to win a $300 Amazon gift card!
All  images via dr Judy Ho/Pinterest