This is Al Waller, your host for ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth. Many people have been feeling less productive than usual during the pandemic. Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute, here to discuss ways to decrease stress and increase productivity.
Al: Thank you for joining us, Mihaela. Mihaela: Thank you for having me. Al: So why are people struggling with being productive these days? Mihaela: Now that we are months into this pandemic, many of us are still learning to live with an unprecedented amount of anxiety, stress, grief, fear, and anger, among other feelings. For many—especially those who are recovering from the virus or juggling multiple responsibilities—experiencing inattention and “brain fog” is common, as is its impact on our ability to stay productive. Al: It sounds like a very stressful time for many. Why does this lead to unproductivity? Mihaela: Lots of research has shown that memory, cognition, and concentration suffer when people are under anxiety and stress, and that is especially true when it is prolonged. The brain is not designed to operate efficiently under constant, prolonged stress. Al: What other kinds of effects can stress have on our health? Mihaela: Stress can contribute to a plethora of health problems, such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, among others. Al: Those are serious effects—what can people do to mitigate this? Mihaela: One of the best things you can do is cut yourself some slack—have compassion for yourself and realize that the stress brought on by so much uncertainty is normal. When we are stressed out, we have less motivation to be productive. Realize that unchecked levels of stress will lead to you making decisions that are not in your best interest which may, in turn, lead to more stress, and consequently more decisions that may weigh on your mental health. Al: So how can people increase their productivity during this time? Mihaela: There are a few ways. First and foremost, give yourself the time to destress when you are feeling overwhelmed by doing things that make you feel good. This could be anything from meditating, playing with your animals, or taking a warm bath. Destressing will help set the stage to prepare you to take on other responsibilities. Al: So once overwhelming stress levels are addressed, what else can individuals do to increase their productivity? Mihaela: Set specific goals, such as, setting an hour to work on a specific task, as this will keep you on track more efficiently than vaguely deciding to “be productive”. By meeting the goals that you set for yourself, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, which, will reap some mental health benefits. Al: Checking off boxes feels good! Anything else that people can do? Mihaela: Take breaks—ideally outdoors. When you feel like you are stuck in a rut, you can take a time-out and go for a walk. The change in scenery and release of endorphins will hopefully give you a renewed sense of motivation. Al: That is all we have time for today. Thank you again for joining us, Mihaela. Mihaela: It was great to be here! Al: This has been another episode of ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth. I’m your host Al Waller – thanks for listening.