This is just a little check in to see how you are doing? I’ve been feeling a little “wobbly” lately, especially after being told we’ll be in lockdown for another two weeks, and get the feeling that you might be feeling the same. My anxiety levels are higher than they should be, I’m not sleeping all that well, some days are easy and other days are not, emotionally I feel like I’m riding the Anaconda at Gold Reef City (one thing I’ve never enjoyed)!! If you’re feeling the same, then I have some really great news for you….. you are NORMAL, you are a fully functional human being and YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!
Having spent some time looking at how we can take care of our internal physical environment during this time of stress and boost our immune system, perhaps it’s time to look at our emotional environment and what we can do at home to keep this environment safe, sound and grounded. Our emotional well-being is just as important as our physical well-being when it comes to our immune system, if not more important.
We’re all familiar with the “fight or flight” response so I’m not going to go into that very deeply today. What I will say is we need to switch off our fight or flight response, that natural response to fear, or a threat, which happens within our bodies whether or not that fear or threat is real or perceived. Long term exposure to this fight or flight response places our bodies under tremendous stress, impacts our immune system and needs to be managed. Here are 10 science based ways to calm yourself during times of high anxiety, stress and fear:
Breathing is probably the most basic of relaxation techniques out there and works within minutes. Deep conscious breathing, long in breaths through the nose and long out breaths though the nose for 2 to 3 minutes sends a message to your brain that all is ok. It tells the brain to stop releasing adrenalin and cortisol and to dial down all those other stress responses in the body. There are so many different breathing techniques but in times of stress all you need to do is begin to count… in for 4 counts, out for 4 counts, in for 4 counts, out for 4 counts. Breathe deeply into the bottom of your tummy and expel all the air on your out breath. If you want to investigate breathing a little more have a look at all the different types of breathing technique videos on You Tube. You’re bound to find one that resonates beautifully with you.
Research has shown that not only does meditation reduce stress but it also reduces the body’s response to stress, that being inflammation. It induces a state of deep relaxation and helps you to re-organise the thoughts that may be crowding your mind. This results in greater physical and emotional well-being.
Phone a Friend
Friends offer you a wonderful support system. Just a few minutes of talking to a friend relieves feelings of overwhelm and anxiety resulting in a reduced stress response in the body. Often chatting to a friend allows you to take on a different perspective changing the way you perceive the source of your stress. Just a good ol’ rant, cry or wobble often helps us let go of whatever it is we need to let go and lifts the weight of the world off our shoulders.
Laugh out Loud
Laughing out loud releases a huge amount of endorphins which, as we know, is our body’s natural feel good hormone. It decreases our stress hormones and increases our immune cells and infection-fighting anti-bodies. What better way to combat stress…. LOL!!!
Do Something with Your Hands
Knit, crochet, draw, colour in, paint, journal, mosaic, cook, garden. It’s called being mindful. It takes your mind off those things that you cannot control, those things causing the stress and playing havoc with your stress hormones. It induces a sense of calmness and relaxation and it’s fun too… give it a try.
Do Something with Your Body
Often we don’t only hold stress in our minds but also in our bodies. Our muscles become tight which impacts our circulation reducing the transfer of nutrients and oxygen around the body. Getting active is a great way to increase blood flow, reduce stress, relieve muscle tention and enhance over-all wellness. Do some stretches, practice yoga, dance around your living room, maybe even have a long relaxing bath or shower. You’ll feel better for it, I promise.
Get some Sunshine
We are so lucky in SA. We have the most beautiful days filled with sunshine and they’re still wonderfully warm. We don’t need to go further than our garden which means we can still practice social distancing and get the health benefits of a daily dose of Vit. D. Besides that benefit, just being outdoors connecting with nature or walking on the grass barefoot is known to have endless health benefits.
Take a Break from Social Media and the News
Especially now!! It’s everywhere. You can’t open an app without COVID-19 being spewed all over you. It’s like being out in the wild wild west. For your own sanity, blood pressure and fragile emotional state, take a media detox. You’re not going to miss out on anything. Follow a few reliable sources, check in with them every second day or so, just to keep up with the news. Right now your emotional well-being is more important, so, close down the apps, put away your phone, pick up a good book and just breathe.
Stop the Harmful Coping Mechanisms
It all just translates into stress, stress and more stress. It’s called “instant gratification” and doesn’t work, I promise you. These coping mechanisms usually result in a hangover, feelings of guilt, not liking yourself very much, depression and beating yourself up. They exacerbate the feeling of being out of control and do nothing to help our emotional well-being.
Be Kind to Yourself
Now is not the time to get caught up in trying to change your life around in 3 weeks, start a new online business, lose 10 kilograms or be the world’s number one parent. Do what is manageable, take one step at a time and allow yourself the space to be human. If you are not coping, step away, take yourself to a quiet place, do some breathing and return when you are ready. Do whatever it is that you find comforting. If it’s a melt-down you need right now, then melt away my friend!!
Now go and make yourself a lovely cup of tea, find a quiet place to sit and take time to enjoy it. If you need help, reach out, please!! My new hashtag… #youarenotalone and I truly mean that.
Sending you all so much love during this challenging time. Stay safe everyone.