Podcast: COVID blues, depression and fighting back

Coronavirus and social distancing causes anxiety that leads to depression. We can proactively fight back by employing these tips to get unstuck.

Episode 25: COVID blues, depression and fighting back

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Show Notes:

The people you should know from this episode:

  • Dr. Alex Korb, who wrote The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression One Small Change at a Time. If you are interested in why the practices I recommend in this podcast work, Dr. Korb’s book has the info you’re looking for.
  • Dr. Nick Wignall. Dr. Wignall posts great blog articles about maintaining our mental health and finding the right therapists.
  • Jeff Sanders. Jeff is a productivity coach and author of The Free-Time Formula: Finding Happiness, Focus, and Productivity No Matter How Busy You Are. He advocates for watching out for your health so you can give your best to the people and projects around you.
  • Dr. Mike Dow. Dr. Dow has written several books. The one referenced in this podcast is Diet Rehab: 28 Days to Finally Stop Craving the Foods that Make You Fat. It’s a very helpful in understanding the chemistry driving us to do some of the things we do… and crave.

I talked about the Daily Examen as one of the contemplative practices I employ. This site is a great resource for more information. I’ve altered my own practice, specifically around the questions I ask myself. Here are those questions:

  • For what moment am I most grateful for today?
  • What moment am I least grateful for?
  • When did I feel most alive today?
  • When did I feel life drained from me today?

For my morning contemplative practice, I generally employ the Christian practice of Lectio Divina. I read a short piece of scripture and merely look for words or phrases that stick out to me. Then I spend a little time contemplating why that word or phrase may be striking me at this time of my life.

Episode Transcript:

The COVID Blues, Depression and Fighting Back

  1. It’s the Bad-Ass Dad Pod
    1. Giving little nuggets of wisdom for living our best lives no matter what age we are
    2. And no matter what our station is during social distancing—
    3. I’m Ryan Dunn.
      1. Level 4 Relationship Ranger.
      2. Level 3 Gym Warrior….
      3. Lawful good podmaster… and all that…
    4. Holy smokes… it’s early April 2020 as I record this
      1. And that means that life is different for all of us
      2. We’re right smack dab in the middle of coronavirus-related stay-at-home recommendations.
      3. And that’s upset the apple cart of stasis for a lot of us.
      4. Life is surely different.
  2. I have transitioned from being a 9-5 office guy
    1. To being a work-from-home, homeschooling Dad
    2. I’ve gone from going out to a gym 5 days a week
    3. To scrambling to piece together some work-out at home routines and equipment
    4. And friends, I’ve got it good, all things considered.
      1. Those who have lost paychecks…
      2. Those who are mired with sickness around them…
      3. I hope that listening to this episode gives you some point of feel-goodness in your day.
  3. How ARE you handling this transition?
    1. Now that we’re a few weeks into it, the novelty has worn off, right?
    2. This is no longer some kind of weird, vacation-type interlude, is it?
    3. Nah, it is new normal.
      1. I’ve been wondering if life after COVID-19 is going to be very similar to life before COVID-19.
      2. Like, are we all just going to jump right back into the pre-coronavirus normals?
      3. OR, are there going to be some drastic life changes?
        1. Like, are our cultural values going to shift some?
    4. I’ve read a number of comments and articles where people discuss the realization of how busy their lives were pre-shutdown… and how this realization might lead to a change in life-pace post shut down.
    5. Personally, I may be making a transition to being a primarily work-from-home professional.
      1. And that transition comes with both excitement and some shades of fear or trepidation.
      2. I’m excited about leaving some of the commuting behind.
        1. I don’t like that timesuck, nor do I like the ecological implications of commuting.
        2. BUT, something’s happened to me internally while I’ve been working from home… and it hasn’t felt very positive.
  4. If you listened to the last episode of this podcast, you heard that I’m highly dopaminergic…
    1. That means I’m a dopamine junkie… 
      1. Uhhh… the internally produced-type-of-dopamine that is…
    2. It means I’m naturally highly motivated to do stuff.
      1. I’ve always got a goal to work towards.
      2. I don’t take well to sitting around.
      3. I’m always chasing after some horizon.
      4. Shoot, this podcast is totally a result of my dopaminergic energies.
        1. I have fun doing this podcast because it represents more goals for me to shoot for
        2. And then get a huge mood boost when I achieve.
        3. Episode release day represents a neurotransmitter party in my brain.
        4. It’s ecstatic in a way… 
    3. Ummm… That is, I thought I was that way… super-motivated and all that…
      1. But a week into sheltering-in-place, it seemed all I wanted to do was sit around… by myself… cut off… 
      2. I had little will or want to be with my people.
      3. I had little will or want to read about the news around me.
      4. I had little will or want to achieve anything (which, we’ve covered, is not a normal state for me)
      5. I felt stuck.
        1. And I was frustrated.
        2. I was tense.
        3. I was super-short with the my family.
      6. And, honestly, I’m still feeling that.
        1. Holy heck, putting this podcast together is fight right now.
        2. I keep battling this voice repeatedly asking “What difference is this going to make?”
        3. It feels more difficult to do than it has previously.
        4. I’m not convinced it’s worth the effort
        5. I’m going to be late in getting this thing produced… and does it even matter?
      7. I wish the podcast was the only area of my life where I was facing those questions. But, right now, it’s not.
      8. I’ve been asking that stuff about my work. I’ve been asking it by relationships and workouts.
    4. It feels like all I want to do is just kind of sit and be.
    5. For sure, I’ve got some kind of the blues… there’s something going on inside there right?
      1. And if I’m not proactive, this can spiral down into something worse. 
      2. I’ve got the COVID-19 blues, maybe you do, too.
      3. And if we’re not mindful, we might step down into depression.
      4. Some of us are already there.
  5. As this podcast is meant to be a bit of a journal sharing my learnings in leading a better life, I thought it would be valuable to share through this episode what I’ve learned about battling depression and what steps I plan on taking now to proactively deal with whatever is happening in my head that’s got me feeling so stuck.
    1. Depression is something we’re keenly mindful of in my household.
    2. My wife, Gina, who we’ve met in several episodes, undergoes treatment for manic depression.
    3. And when I was going through psychological evaluations in preparation for becoming a certified youth minister in the United Methodist Church, I was diagnosed with depression.
      1. And, having learned what I’ve learned and looking back, I think it’s likely that I spent a fair amount of my teenage years in a state of depression.
      2. It’s likely that, were I a teenager today, I’d be in some kind of treatment.
        1. We just didn’t have that kind of awareness back in the early 90’s.
        2. But, it seems to me that the signs were there.
          1. A lot of social isolation–even when I was around other people.
          2. Blowing off obligations.
          3. An inability to communicate what I was feeling–’cuz I just didn’t know.
        3. I’m no longer a youth pastor, but, If I were the youth pastor to teenage me, I would probably make a recommendation to the parents to have teenage me go talk to someone.
    4. And what I’m feeling right now isn’t too dissimilar from what I recall feeling, or not feeling back then.
    5. That’s one of the things I’ve learned about depression.
      1. Depression isn’t really feeling sad all the time.
      2. Depression is more like feeling numb all the time.
      3. Everything just seems pointless… it all feels difficult and nothing feels like it’s really worth the effort.
      4. And because of that, I felt or feel anxious , ashamed, and totally isolated–like no one could understand
        1. Especially because it’s difficult for me to communicate what’s going on
        2. And in my mind I’m not convinced it’s worth the effort to try.
    6. Nick Wignall, who is my favorite internet psychologist… and who now has his own podcast worth checking out… Dr Nick says that depression is stuckness.
      1. It’s a mental stuckness.
      2. Where we employ the same scripts and thought patterns over and over again.
    7. I’m going to lean on Dr. Nick for some info in this episode.
      1. I’m also pulling some ideas from Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” 
        1. Which is his recollection of finding meaning in the midst of a Nazi concentration camp.
        2. It’s probably a great read for our current conditions, because it provides perspective in finding meaning when we feel like so much is out of control–as many of us are prone to feeling right the-freak now.
      2. I’m also grabbing some ideas from Jeff Sanders’ “Free Time Formula”. 
        1. Jeff does the 5AM Miracle podcast.
        2. It’s dope, check it.
      3. Most heavily, though, I’m pulling research from Dr. Alex Korb’s “The Upward Spiral”
        1. I’ll tell you, if it were legal… or at all ethical… to just read you Dr. Alex’s book, I would
        2. The best I can offer is to say “hey, go check it out.”
        3. I’m pulling out a few golden nuggets
          1. I simply don’t have the time to pull them all out
          2. And his explanations of neuroscience–which I’m not going to touch–really drive home the point behind some of the practices I’m going to recommend. 
          3. So when you listen to what I’m going to say and remain unconvinced, give Dr. Alex the chance to scientifically explain why these practices matter.
  6. Alright, back to our realities…
    1. We’ve lost some control of our lives.
    2. We are, in many cases, physically stuck.
    3. We’re struggling to navigate the nuances of our suddenly either hyper-close or hyper-distanced relationships. Right?
      1. Our kids and partners are now super close… all the time.
      2. But our friends and co-workers are faces on a screen.
    4. We’re bored some of the time.
      1. And we can’t rely on some of the old tricks to alleviate boredom and monotony.
    5. We’re also worried.
      1. We’re worried about getting sick. Or others getting sick.
      2. We’re worried about our financial futures due to changing work conditions and the recession.
      3. And we get online and see Karen the super-mom running her household like a homeschool military academy for high achievers and we’re worried that what we’re offering our own kids just sucks.
        1. She’s got her 5th grader re-finishing the deck and learning calculus 
        2. And I’ve convinced myself that my 12-year old watching Gladiator is legit history teaching.
    6. It’s gets us feeling blue… thus, the COVID-19 blues.
      1. Living with these blues and reacting only to them begins a downward spiral that leads to depression.
      2. Depression happens when our brain circuits tune in to certain chemical frequencies.
        1. Now, let me say, that sometimes people are born with that tuning.
        2. But more often there are circumstances… like right now… that push our brains into that tuning
        3. And the big problem is that once our brains are tuned into those depression-friendly frequencies, tuning anywhere else feels near impossible.
      3. Dr. Korb likens depression to a traffic jam. 
        1. There are all kinds of factors contributing to it happening.
        2. And once we’re in it, it feels impossible to get out.
      4. And you can’t really reason you’re way out of it.
        1. It’s an emotional state, right?
        2. You can’t just say “self, I don’t have a reason to feel this way, so let’s get on the right track and get this ass moving…”
      5. Dr. Wignall notes that trying to argue out of depression…either with yourself or with someone else… is like trying to argue with your inebriated racist uncle Harry at Thanksgiving dinner.
        1. You may be right.
        2. But arguing doesn’t do the trick.
      6. You can’t argue your way out of a traffic jam.
        1. Because all that amounts to is saying “I told you that you should have taken Murfreesboro Pike instead of I-24!”
        2. Reasoning comes too late to help you out when you’ve spent the last half hour bumper to bumper on 24.
    7. Instead of reasoning our way out, we’re going to look at it this way.
      1. There are a lot of contributing factors that lead us into the stuckness of depression.
      2. Likewise, there are a lot of contributing actions we can take that lead us out of the stuckness.
      3. NONE of them are quick fixes.
        1. We have to re-tune our brains… and just as it took a bit to tune our brains into the frequencies of depression
        2. It will take a bit to tune our brains into something else.
      4. But that means that it is possible to move out of depression.
        1. There are a number of things we can do to change those frequencies.
      5. Inside each of us are tendencies toward depression and tendencies towards contentment.
        1. What we’re going to work on in this episode is feeding the contentment tendencies
        2. While starving the depressive tendencies.
        3. Make sense?
        4. One of my favorite poems is “bluebird” by Charles Bukowski
          1. Bluebirds often represent happiness
          2. And he talks about there being a bluebird in his heart that wants to get out.
          3. But he stifles it with his depressive tendencies.
        5. We’re going to focus on feeding that bluebird.
        6. And once that little guy gets strong enough, we’ll likely hear him or her singing like crazy.
        7. That little bluebird’s going to be singing so frequently it’s going to make us sick and tired of singing… we’re going to be tired of winning…
  7. ANYWAYS, here are steps to combating the stuckness of depression.
    1. I’m not going to go into depth on medication, I need to offer.
      1. That’s because that’s serious stuff that I’m not in anyway qualified to talk about.
      2. I will offer this: Medication is a viable option. I have never heard of it being the only option.
      3. The actions I’m recommending are not meant to take the place of medication if a true professional has put you on medication.
      4. But also, you shouldn’t just rely on the medication.
        1. Medication may open the pathways for making action easier.
        2. But medication without action is just a symptom reliever and not a wholistic treatment.
      5. So, that’s my 2 cents on medication.
    2. The steps I’ve researched out for unstucking ourselves are going to sound hoaky.
      1. At least, at first, they did to me.
      2. And they probably are to you, too… because I’m leaving out the neurological research that backs their effectiveness.
        1. That’s the stuff that doctors Korb and Wignall explain so well on their various publications.
        2. Dr. Korb especially goes in to detail on how something as simple as taking a walk in the sun triggers neurotransmitters that in turn trigger vitamin and how that opens up new neuropathways. 
        3. I just butchered that explanation… and that’s why I’m recommending you read “Upward Spiral” for all those details.
      3. So the action steps might sound hoaky because I’m leaving off the scientific context. 
      4. BUT, they also might sound hoaky because our depression wants them to sound ineffective.
        1. Depression is a state of stability. 
        2. And our bodies really like to hang in stability.
        3. So our brains will often reject things, actions, ideas that threaten the status quo.
        4. So get ready to say “That will NEVER work… That sounds HARD… That’s just NOT for me… 
        5. And even, “ha, I’ve tried THAT before…”
          1. Maybe you have tried it before.
          2. But this is not a quick fix.
          3. We need to re-route a river of habits and neurotic connections.
      5. To do this, I’m going to lean on some advice that Dr. Mike Dow offers in relation to diet, but I think works well here, too.
        1. Don’t worry too much about what you need to cut out.
        2. At first, just add things in.
        3. Once these new habits start settling in, it’s easier to let go of the older, downward pushing habits.
  8. Alright, you ready for taking some control of this Shhhhtuffff?
  9. You bet you are… let’s let those caged little bluebirds sing, buddy-o!
    1. We’re gonna set these steps out as goals for us to conquer 
      1. and get Dopey the Dopamine pusher working on our behalf
      2. “Your life’s going to be bro-ing hardcore when you take that daily walk in the sun, broski!”
    2. Alright… the steps to starting a positive response… here we go.
  10. First, Breathe Deeply
    1. Did you… did you just laugh at me?
    2. I warned you that some of this might sound hoaky.
    3. But breathing deeply actually calms the brain’s stress responses.
    4. So the next time you’re about to blow your top because you just had to tell your new homeschooled pupil to put down his phone and pick up his math worksheet for the 600th time… 
      1. Breathe deeply
      2. It’s not going to immediately fix your mood… like you’re not going to take a few breaths and suddenly say “What the hell was I so mad about?!”
      3. What you are going to do is calm your response and start reprogramming your brain’s responses to stressful situations.
    5. Most of us pay little attention to our breathe.
      1. But, by taking time to mindfully breathe deeply throughout the day, 
      2. We will be communicating sense of calm… or, at least, non-anxiousness to our brains.
    6. Here’s a little game I play…
      1. I think this is from Jane McGonigal
      2. I breathe in for a long 4-count
      3. Then, breathe out for an 8-count at the same tempo.
      4. We all know, I like playing games… and I ain’t afraid to make a game of breathing.
      5. It’s just a helpful little mind challenge
    7. So breathe deeply and work your way towards peace, pal.
  11. Second thing you can do to combat the blues and depression: Exercise.
    1. Surprised? Probably not.
    2. Dr. Korb states that exercise is probably the best thing we can to naturally combat depression.
      1. In fact, almost everything that pops up as a symptom or result of depression can be combatted by exercise.
      2. Low energy levels? Exercise gets the right neurotransmitters working to get moving.
      3. Poor sleep? Exercise helps to regulate that.
      4. Bad appetite? Work it out.
      5. Can’t focus? Exercise is proven to help.
      6. Feeling isolated? Getting outside with exercise fosters a sense of connection–even when we don’t work out with other people.
      7. Scientifically, exercise releases serotonin and endorphins, which are the brain chemicals that make us feel real groovy.
    3. So, to start, ease your way in.
      1. Don’t start with Jim the Gym-buff’s 7-day ass-kicking at home exercises plan.
      2. Start with something repeatable and fun.
        1. Throughout my quest to dunk a basketball… which is darn near approaching a year in length… I’ve tried probably close to 10 different training programs.
        2. I’ve switched because I learned early on that pursuing this with any kind of passion meant I needed to have fun.
        3. When I talked to Andy Nicholson, the Over the Hill Dunker, and Jon Stewart, the 50-something American Ninja Warrior, I realized they kep doing their training because they had fun doing it.
        4. Fun is the key to persistence in exercise.
        5. So start with something fun and repeatable.
        6. During this time of being stuck without a gym, I’ve dusted off my skateboard.
          1. I’ve been using that as a warm up to plyometric jumping exercises. 
          2. It’s been fun to tootle up and down the street on my board again.
          3. I look forward to that. 
          4. What do you have that you can look forward to doing physically?
          5. Jump on that and accept that any movement counts as exercise.
          6. I hope you feel some relief of pressure in feeling like you need to feel like vomiting to ensure you’re doing it right.
          7. If you’re moving, your brain is getting rewired. 
          8. So MOVE, dangit!
    4. If time is your issue, let me ask you something… Are you able to give your best to anything else when you feel blah, are cranky, when you can’t focus… when you can’t sleep and all that?
      1. Jeff Sanders, author of The Free Time Formula, suggests you start building your schedule with time to exercise first… simply because it’s tied so closely to your health
      2. And, as Count Rugen reminds us, if you don’t have your health, what do you have?
      3. You have cranky attitudes, low motivation, and a feeling of stuckness. That’s what.
      4. Saying we don’t have time to exercise likely stems from two feelings we harbor
        1. First, that we feel guilty taking care of yourselves when we can pay attention to other things. 
          1. But, the deal is that you can’t give much of yourself to anything when you feel like crap.
        2. Secondly, we feel stuck because exercise sounds hard.
          1. Remember firstly that depression is trying to keep you in the stuck stasis, so it will tell you it’s tough.
          2. And let go of some pressure, secondly, to blow it out every workout.
            1. Maybe your workout is tossing the frisbee with the dog or riding your dusty skateboard.
            2. It’s got to be repeatable and fun.
    5. So there you go, second recommendation… and the probably the biggest, most effective one… is to exercise.
  12. Thirdly…or, the third step in the battle, is to make some decisions.
    1. Get decisive.
    2. Dr Korb recommends not allowing ourselves to languish over choices… just decide.
    3. I’m going to reframe this into a positive action a bit… since I’ve been recommending we don’t concentrate too much on what we’re going to cut out. 
      1. I’m not going to cut out indecisiveness.
      2. I’m going to practice decisiveness.
      3. And I’m going to do this, right now, by deciding what’s important to me… setting my priorities… and building my new social-distancing, working from home, homeschooling schedule on top of that.
      4. So here’s what I’m prioritizing in that:
        1. I’m going to give my best to my family first.
        2. I know I need to be healthy to do that… which, for me, means I need to exercise well.
        3. And I’m going to make time for connection beyond myself in the form of contemplation and prayer.
        4. So, I’m most likely to connect with family, based on our schedules, from dinner and on into the evening. 
          1. I’ve blocked that as family time. They get priority there each night.
        5. Secondly, I know I need exercise to give my best there. So, right now, I’m able to go exercise during my lunch break. 
        6. Thirdly, starting the day with some contemplative prayer practices really sets a wonderful tone for my day… so I do that when I wake… which I’m still doing about 5:30am.
      5. Prioritizing like this puts a framework to decisions and helps me allocate energy.
        1. That being said, if you’re struggling with depressive feelings and someone gives you a choice, make it.
        2. Even if you’re not convinced it’s the best best choice… accept that it’s good enough for right now.
        3. I’m going to quote Dr Korb directly on this, because it’s so dang good: “In your current situation, it might seem like there are no solutions to your problems, but the solutions are there; you just can’t see them because you’re overwhelmed by irrelevant details.”
    4. What keeps us paralyzed in decision making is our fear of accepting “good enough”.
      1. Making a decision to prioritize what we want to excel gives us permission to accept good enough in other areas.
      2. So deciding what’s for dinner isn’t that big of a deal. Because we just to pick whatever’s good enough for tonight.
      3. And, maybe in this season, accepting that kid only does about ½ of what I expect him to do while homeschooling is good enough. Because it’s better that I don’t kill our relationship… or each other… over this.
  13. Alright, let’s keep kicking this can down the road. Idea number 4 combating COVID depression: Keep as regular of a schedule as possible.
    1. And I mean this especially in regards to sleep. 
      1. I’ll tell you, the first thing I thought about when we got the orders to work from home was staying up late doing whatever the hell I wanted and sleeping in every day.
      2. And then, it just became staying up late every night… because who cares how rested I am when I’m just sitting at home all day, right?
    2. That was a mistake. Sleepy Ryan equals cranky, anxious, and stressed out Ryan.
    3. Sleep is central to the whole Count Rugen health thing.
    4. So regulate that stuff, man! Make time for sleep.
    5. Schedule it.
      1. And make that sleep time about sleep and sleep only.
      2. Like bed time does not mean bingewatch Tiger King until you fall asleep on the couch time.
      3. It means doing your bedtime ritual and settling into bed for the purpose of sleep… time.
    6. I’m going to get soap-boxy now because we tend to crap all over sleep.
      1. Like it’s something unimportant.
      2. Or that it’s something we can always do some other time.
    7. Friend, you gotta take that sleep seriously. So respect that scheduled bedtime.
    8. To ease your transition to bedtime, you can regulate your circadian rhythm throughout the day.
      1. And this especially important at this time when we’re shut in so much.
      2. But here’s a trick: during daylight hours, be around as much light as you can and at night, be in as much dark as you can handle. 
        1. Your natural animal brain says that when there’s light, it needs to be alert and moving.
        2. And when it’s dark it’s time to rest.
        3. Accept that tendency.
        4. And fight the urge to keep the drapes shut all day and to turn on every light in the house at night while staring at your 48-inch TV.
      3. Furthermore, do day-time alert things during the day.
        1. I especially think about caffeine with this recommendation.
        2. When you consume caffeine, your brain thinks it’s time get rolling.
        3. So you may say “It doesn’t have any affect on me.” Try telling that to your brain that gets a taste of caffeine and kicks into full alert mode.
    9. The last thing I’m going to gripe about at you here is to program your mind to accept that your bed is for bed-related activities–like sleep–only.
      1. Do not transform your bed into your work at home desk.
      2. Don’t work in bed.
      3. Don’t watch TV in bed.
      4. Don’t eat meals in bed.
      5. You want your brain to relate your bed to sleep… not to work or Tiger King or anything else.
      6. So don’t let the non-bed-related world infiltrate the sanctity of the bed.
        1. For crying out loud!
    10. OK, so you’re gonna take sleep seriously, right? Good.
    11. Oh, if you’re like me, the most likely thing to disrupt your sleep is worry.
      1. This is where some decisiveness pays off. 
      2. Because here’s how I deal, as best I can, with the sleep intruding worry.
        1. I deal with it instead of avoiding.
        2. And mostly, that dealing means that when I’m up at night worrying about all the things I need to do the next day, I make a decision about the what I need to absolutely do first the following day.
        3. Then I email myself a reminder to do it. Knowing I’ll check that email first thing the next day.
        4. Generally, that gives me enough peace of mind in the moment to grab some Z’s.
  14. Let’s move on…. Number 5 combatant against depression: focus on the positive.
    1. You chortled there, didn’t you.
    2. Next to breathing, this sounds hoaky doesn’t it.
    3. But it’s key to rewiring our brain out of the connections that spiral us into the traffic jam of depression.
    4. With each positive connection we implant into our brains, we open up another little artery where some of the clogging traffic can get off and we can get moving again.
    5. So, right now, in this time of social distancing, take some time to remember the good times.
      1. Reminisce with someone.
      2. And get as detailed as possible.
      3. Sit down with your family and talk about the best trip you’ve taken together and what  made it so great.
    6. Spend some time recalling some great things about yourself, too.
      1. If you’re dealing with depression, it’s unlikely you’re on the verge of becoming an overly-confident ego maniac.
      2. So ask yourself this: When were you really nice to someone just because?
      3. What’s something nice you’ve given to someone lately?
      4. When did you absolutely kill it?
    7. With this, we can practice some gratitude.
    8. I’ll tell you what: I’m a religious person.
      1. I already told you, I wake up and do contemplative prayer.
      2. Part of the close of my day is something I do almost subconsciously now… it’s called Examen (spell it)
        1. I key on a few questions
        2. For what moment am I most grateful for?
        3. What moment am I least grateful for?
        4. When did I feel most alive today?
        5. When did I absolutely feel drained today?
      3. It’s uplifting practice because it gives me cause to note what’s been going good in my life.
      4. Right now, I can predict that my most alive moment is talking to you through this microphone. And I’m thankful for that… so thanks for the good vibes, bro. … or madame.
    9. Ummm… while we’re concentrating on the positives and the religious, I want to tell you a little story about my homie John Wesley… who lived in the 1700’s.
      1. He was important in founding the Methodist movement in Christianity.
      2. One time he was traveling to America and his ship was caught in a storm.
      3. He cowered in corner certain they were all going down as he watched a group of Moravians calmly gather for prayer.
      4. Afterwards, John asked one how he could keep preaching when he lost all faith in the midst of that storm.
      5. The Moravian told John to keep preaching faith until he had it, then, because he had it, he would preach faith.
      6. This isn’t meant to sound poseur-ish… but what we put on the outside affects what goes on inside.
      7. Positive gestures and mannerisms trigger connections with positivity in our brains.
        1. So by smiling, you trigger inward feelings of happiness.
        2. By straightening up and puffing your chest out, you trigger feelings of control
      8. I remember running my first marathon.
        1. About mile 23, I was languishing. 
        2. Several people who had already finished had walked back out onto the course… they’d had enough time to finish and walk three miles back out onto the course.
        3. One of these finishers was a lady who noticed me trudging along in my struggle and yelled at me, nicely, to relax my face and shoulders.
        4. I did… and my whole mindset became a bit more relaxed. It triggered relaxation.
        5. What we put on the outside can affect what goes on inside.
      9. So friend, of all times, this is a time when we… and you… need your smile.
      10. Bring that light into the world and into the dark spots of your mind.
  15. Hey, you know what… sometimes we need a coach or helper to achieve our goals, right?
    1. Some of us can’t achieve our physical goals without a trainer… I think I’m going to sign one up to kill off this dunking quest.
    2. ANYWAYS, there are also times we can’t wrap our minds around our finances and need a consultant or planner, right?
    3. Similarly, some of us need an emotional counselor, therapist, or doctor. 
    4. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
    5. Seeking that kind of help just shows we’re taking emotional health seriously
      1. In the same way hiring a coach or trainer says we’re ready to get busy with our physical health.
  16. [Music In} Alright, let me close all this out with a little homework.
    1. This is your COVID-19 wellness assignment:
    2. First, set up a plan to get regular outdoor exercise.
    3. Second, schedule regular sleep.
    4. Third, right some thank you notes or gratitude letters.
    5. AND, if you’re going to binge watch during this season, binge watch something funny. Laughter makes good connections happen in the brain.
  17. I have espoused enough for now.
    1. Hope this has been helpful to you.
    2. Do me a solid and leave a rating and review… the 5-star variety is much appreciated.
    3. You can find links to the books I referenced on thebadpod.com
    4. There’s lots of other cool stuff there too… like blog entries and all the episodes.
    5. Music is by Eyoelin.
    6. I’m Ryan Dunn.
    7. I’ll catch you two weeks, I hope.
    8. OK Bye!

Published by RyanDunn

Ryan Dunn has a bunch of certificates on his desk. A few are awards for content production and marketing. Another marks his ordination as a minister. One says he’s earned a BA in English from the University of Iowa. The certificate next to that says he earned an MA in Christian Practice from Duke (with honors!). Ryan is most proud, though, of the things he’s created: The Compass Podcast, some deep content on RethinkChurch.org, a series of practical spiritual advice videos, a long-lasting marriage, and fantastic little boy. (He enjoyed A LOT of help on all of those projects, especially the last two.)

One thought on “Podcast: COVID blues, depression and fighting back

  1. Hi, Ryan! Wow! This was lengthy, but a lot of good nuggets in there! I grew up in the UMC, but am not ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I’m following you for more good nuggets. I’m kind of new at blogging, but feel free to check out my writing. I welcome and appreciate feedback. God bless!


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