I’ve just returned from a short trip and throughout my journey home I have observed the reactions in the U.S. and around the world towards the quick outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. The responses that have been most prominent to me have ranged from hoarding anything and everything in the grocery store and preparing for an apocalypse; to the opposite reaction of celebrating in the bars for St. Patrick’s Day, a retaliation of sorts by people wanting to connect and feel the connection of people through “good old fun” during a fearful time.
If you are anywhere on this spectrum, and most everyone is, then some self-care may be needed.
Fear is a response that elicits many other responses in your body. It excites your nervous system, enables your fight or flight response, impairs your immune system, clouds your thinking, immobilizes you, and causes you to be anxious and depressed.
If you are feeling any of these I would like you to adopt a daily practice of caring for yourself mentally and physically. These practices can be taken on now, but I believe that they can be helpful if practiced daily throughout your entire life.
DAILY NEEDS ARE BEING MET
Make sure your physical needs are being met. You are eating properly, you stay physical, you are taking care of hygiene needs, and trying to get the necessary sleep.
GET OUTSIDE IN NATURE
Get out in nature. Whatever your jam is right now do it. Attend to your 5 senses when you are in nature. If walking or snowshoeing, I would recommend practicing a mantra with each step. “So hum” is a good one or “I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m grateful.”
PICK UP WRITING
Begin a practice of writing. Pick up a pen or pencil (my favorite) and write. For example, write about your fears, your experiences at this time, and the feelings coming up for you. If you don’t know a place to start, begin with the writing prompt, “this is what I want you to know,” or “I didn’t want to say this, but…” Have fun with this and make it happen right away in the morning.
Sit in silence or if you are like me and music calms you, put some on in the background. Get comfortable. This can happen in a prone position also. Close your eyes and check in with your senses – what do I hear, what do I see (in my mind’s eye), what am I feeling (sense or emotion), what do I smell, and what can I taste (can be a metaphor). After you check-in, silence yourself. Notice what comes up for you and let it pass by. Adopt a mantra that fits your current state. If you are worried, for instance, about your health than state “I am healthy” as a mantra. If you are worried about current events it is helpful to visualize and feel “I am safe.” Some people find the practice of Mala beads very useful in helping to recite mantras and find calmness.
MAKE THOSE CONNECTIONS
Connect, connect, connect. Reach out to those you love and care for and who love you and welcome you into their tribe. I know a phone call is a rarity in this day-and-age but take the time to chat with your bestie, or a family member, or a long-time buddy you have not spoken to in a while, or all of the above.
PRACTICE NEW WAYS TO GET SLEEP
If you are having trouble getting to sleep, you can try these tricks. Do an alphabet of gratitude for the week. For instance, A is for Aunt Betty who called to see if I was ok. B is for this blog. You get the picture. Start at the beginning, end or in the middle of the alphabet. Whatever you are feeling. You can also do the alphabet by listing things in your house that begin with the corresponding letters.
GET SOME TIME OFF THE SCREEN
Limit screen time especially the news. If you must look, make it once a day and not before bed.
As always, you can also connect with me and we can personalize your daily schedule. It can be a simple phone chat or a Video Zoom session. email me for phone number and/or a video chat session inquiry: firstname.lastname@example.org
I know this is a trying time for all of us, so the support of one another will be a critical component. Understand that one must find support for themselves before spreading their care to others.
Be at peace,
Liz Hartman, MA, LPC