Everything is a crisis nowadays. We’ve currently dealing with the cost of living crisis, Ukraine crisis, fuel crisis, energy crisis, food crisis. There are probably more, I’ve most likely lost count.
Whilst I would never demean the severity of the situations listed, it does strike me that it is manna for the media (both traditional and modern), who can’t get enough of labelling something a good old crisis to keep us all glued to their 24 hour streams.
There are some truly awful things happening in the world at the moment, coming off the back of a two-year Covid nightmare, it’s no wonder anxiety levels are through the roof.
I heard a great quote recently, and I can’t remember who said it, but it is as follows:
‘We have primitive brains, with medieval institutions, and god-like technology’
Our brains, which have barely yet evolved beyond the level of our tribal hunting and gathering days, cannot really deal with the constant stream of the 24 hour news cycle, usually presented with bias and/or an alternative agenda, that is so prevalent wherever we dare to look, both online and off.
I try to have a general rule for myself that I only cast a cursory glance over the headlines every day and pick out maybe one or two things to read that pique my interest. Getting my head stuck in the news, reading about crisis after crisis, with worse ones to come, does me no good whatsoever.
I also have a mantra that helps when I find myself tumbling down a rabbit hole and are about to waste valuable minutes or hours of my life ultimately wasting my time, “Will this make me better at tai chi?”. If the answer is ‘no’, I go and do something that will make me better at tai chi.
I’ve noticed a sharp increase in the amount of people coming to my classes, and starting one-to-ones with me, who are learning martial arts, or improving their fitness, specifically with the goal of improving their mental health.
We talk about it more now, which is great, so it could be that previously people would not have given the real reason as to why they were starting training. However, it’s striking that since the pandemic, in the wake of the numerous crises we are bombarded with, anxiety and mental health problems now seem to be a new pandemic we are facing.
I’m not a medical expert and anyone who is suffering with their mental health should seek professional health. However, on a personal level, as well as with many people I have trained, I know from first hand evidence, improving your physical health will have a knock on effect and improve your mental health.
We are designed to move. We are not put on this earth to sit staring into screens, we should walk, run, lift, carry, squat, stretch, every single day, multiple times per day. There is no wonder that inactive lifestyles, coupled with crisis after crisis being streamed straight into our brains via our devices, is making us paralysed by anxiety and mental health issues.
Whilst we can’t do anything about the problems and crises the whole world is facing, we can do something about how we react to it.
So next time you are bombarded into submission and are fed up with hearing about the food/cost-of-living/fuel/energy/etc… crisis, remind yourself that to keep yourself in good mental health in a world that seems to be teetering on the edge of madness, the only crisis that you need to concern yourself with is the Lack of Tai Chi Crisis.
That’s right, there is a shortage of people in this world doing tai chi.
Who can argue that the world would be a better place if we all just slowed down a bit, became mindful of our movements, took some time to be by ourselves and relax, breathed a little deeper, spent time moving around in nature, connected more with like-minded people, thought less about our differences with others and more about what we had in common, made our bodies stronger and more flexible, increased our self awareness?
What we can all do when faced with a crisis is to take ownership of what we can control, everything else just leads us down a road of anxiety and paralysis. Taking care of our physical and mental health is the best thing we can do for society and ourselves in times of crisis.
I have a lot happening in my life at present consequently there are times when I feel as if I am sinking and unable to cope, not knowing which ‘thing’ to deal with first. On top of this, every time a newspaper is opened or a television is turned on you are met with all the problems the world is now facing, man made or natural disasters, the majority of which we have no control over.
A few weeks back I remembered some advice that Mark gave me when I first started Tai Chi and Back to Fitness with him – take a deep breath, decide what is important and deal with one thing at a time. So every morning I start my day with a warm up, Tai Chi and meditation and by doing this I feel able to take a deep breath and sort my day out. The days I am unable to do this early in the morning I try to snatch a few minutes every so often and take a few deep breaths and relax, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.
Tai Chi definitely works for me!
Obviously and some times annoyingly there is the odd day when I am unable to do and then I can f