The Tao Te Ching tells us:
The Tao is the one.
From the one come yin and yang,
Sunlight and shadow,
From these two creative energy,
From energy ten thousand things
The forms of all creation.
(Tao, Chapter 42)
The Tao Te Ching affirms the power of creative energy, but these days, under the shadows of Covid-19, many of us are feeling emotionally exhausted. Some have called this pandemic fatigue. How can we bring more light and creative energy into our lives? Research has revealed three ways to increase our joy, energy, and vitality.
Get Regular Exercise: Research has shown that regular exercise builds vitality and helps relieve feelings of helplessness and depression (Rethorst & Trivedi, 2010). Choose an exercise practice that works for you.
- If you already have an exercise practice you enjoy—running, hiking, dancing, working out, tai chi, yoga, or something else—commit to doing this exercise at least three times a week to increase your vitality and stamina. Check out online exercise classes or exercise outdoors, following public health guidelines.
- If you don't have a regular exercise practice, just walking around your neighborhood is a good way to begin. Just mask up and begin walking. As the Tao reminds us, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" (Tao, Chapter 64).
Share Positive Events with Others: Research has also revealed that we can increase our vitality by sharing our goals and positive experiences with others (Niemiec, 2018). You can do this virtually by phone call or Zoom link:
- Spend time with a friend sharing your goals, challenges, and progress.
- Join a group to work on a cause you believe in.
- Work with a coach or counselor to overcome roadblocks and develop greater vitality.
Spend Time in Nature: Research has shown that just being out in nature can raise our mood, lift our spirits, and increase our vitality (Ryan, Weinstein, et al, 2010). How can you spend more time in nature?
- If you enjoy hiking, backpacking, or camping, plan to do this more often, checking out possibilities and observing public health guidelines.
- If you'd rather stay close to home, mask up and take a walk around your neighborhood or in a nearby park.
- If you'd rather stay even closer to home, you can spend time gardening, growing flowers or vegetables in your yard or apartment balcony, watching them grow, and enjoying the harvests.
Whatever way you choose, cultivating your relationship with nature world can help restore your vitality and build your hope.
I wish you joy on the path.
Rethorst, C. D.& Trivedi, M. H. (2010). Evidence-based recommendation for the prescription of exercise for major depressive disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 19, 204-212.
Niemiec, R. M. (2018). Character strengths interventions: A field guide for practitioners. Boston, MA: Hogrefe Publishing. Discussion on pages 129-130
Ryan, R. M., Weinstein, N., Bernstein, J., Brown, K. W., Mistretta, L., & Gagne, M. (2010). Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, 159-16; Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrated framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, 169-182.