In Chapter 1 of his, The Adventure Begins When the Plan Falls Apart: Convert a Crisis into Company Success, Baker recounts a story in which he and his son are headed to a golf course in Ireland when his rental car crashes into a guardrail resulting in two flat tires. The Bakers are then challenged to think on their feet as they attempt to fix their rental car in an unfamiliar country. As Baker describes this predicament that he and his son found themselves in, he states that while they could have spent the remainder of the day on the side of the road with their rental car, sulking about a missed tee time and subsequently spoiling their trip, Baker and his son decided to turn this unexpected happening into an adventure. They would find an alternate way to reach their destination, and thus enjoy their trip, even if it was not by the same means they initially intended.  

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic an international emergency.  Over the next couple months, individuals across the world were mandated to shelter in place, wear masks, and distance themselves from others. The fear of the unknown, coupled with a complete lack of social interaction in a world where connection is paramount to our happiness, the mental health of many across the world began to deteriorate. In a survey conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, 50.9% of participants showed signs of anxiety, 57.4% showed symptoms of stress, and 58.6% exhibited depression. Similar to the realization that Baker and his son had when they encountered the unexpected while heading to the golf course in Ireland, many individuals across the world understood that they would have to innovate to remain mentally healthy in a time where uncertainty and isolation was suddenly plaguing the world. 

One route that individuals turned to in order to care for their mental health was Holistic health. Holistic health refers to caring for the whole person; tending to physical, mental, and social needs, and subsequently understanding that these needs are all intertwined. For example, mental stress causes physical issues like weight gain, muscle pain, and difficulty sleeping. Conversely, mental stress can be caused by things such as a lack of exercise and poor nutrition. Following Holistic health in order to care for one’s mental health during the pandemic meant that individuals had to make changes in all aspects of their life.  

The first step many individuals took was understanding the importance of exercise as it relates to mental health. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals in your brain like dopamine and serotonin, which enhance happy feelings. While gyms might have been closed during the pandemic, parks and running paths were packed with bikers, runners and walkers. Additionally, many individuals took advantage of promotions that companies like Peloton ran, where workout classes were available for free upon downloading the Peloton app. 

 Next, many individuals also worked on their diet and nutrition in order to better their mental health. Minerals like iron, zinc, iodine, and calcium each play an important role in maintaining the stability of your mental health. With this in mind, people began recognizing the benefits of cooking healthy foods at home, where they could ensure that what they were eating was meeting their health needs. In addition, individuals also began taking more vitamins and minerals, as oftentimes diet alone does not fulfill the body’s nutritional needs. 

Finally, with a stay-at-home mandate ordered, people were entirely unable to meet up with friends for coffee or go out for a drink with coworkers after work. In turn, many individuals took to Zoom; setting up “Zoom happy hours” which offered just an ounce of normalcy to the insanity which we were living in. In a survey conducted in May, 2020, 55% of the American population said they were participating in virtual hangouts with friends and family.  

As Jim Baker describes in Chapter 1 of The Adventure Begins When the Plan Falls Apart, when he discusses his mishap during his trip to Ireland with his son, our approach to each individual problem has the ability to influence the outcome of an entire situation. Therefore, when we view our health holistically, we adopt a unique approach that galvanizes us to view our ailments as opportunities to rejuvenate and care for ourselves.    

Jim Baker’s The Adventure Begins When the Plan Falls Apart 

Survey of mental health during COVID-19  

Holistic health care 

Mental health and exercise 

Mental health and nutrition 

“Virtual hangouts” during COVID-19