We’re in Day 5 of what started out as voluntary and is now a California State Mandate to Stay at Home except for grocery or other essential runs. No social activity and no gatherings of any kind. In Belgium, a friend reported that they are not even allowed to walk in groups larger than 2 people. We need to come to terms with what this means for us in the long haul. The honeymoon phase has not worn off yet, and some of us are still finding this novel (no pun intended). What if this is our new normal for the next many months? What if, as some scientists advise, we need to maintain social distance for half a year, or even a year?
This is an unprecedented time in our history. But, if you were to look at the history of mankind, there have been many such unprecedented times. Certainly in the history of USA alone, nearly every generation can claim to have had an unprecedented time. This is ours. How we respond to this crisis is what will define us in the history books when stories are written for posterity. This too shall pass; we will prevail. We will come out of this stronger and a more connected society.
As a society we had allowed ourselves to run rampant on our hamster wheels in the name of success. Our kids have never been busier, lives have never been more hectic, stress has never been higher than it is now. The silver lining in all of this is that we have been given an opportunity to do a hard reset. There are many articles being written about the economic impact of this virus on the world, and my love, thoughts, prayers and energy are with the families of those who have lost loved ones, and with those communities who do not have the means or the resources to shelter in place.
I, however would like to address what we can do to raise the collective vibration of the world and therefore channel more love, more light and more prayer toward those who need it most.
Now more than ever before, it is critical to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. There is a good reason airplanes instruct us to do this. If you don’t care for yourself, you are of no service to those you love and care for most. We often feel like we must care for our kids/elders FIRST and FOREMOST even at the cost of our own health. But, who will care for them when you drop from exhaustion or worse? Now’s the perfect time to start a self care routine for yourself. It usually takes 30 days to form a habit, and if the news is any indication we will definitely be hunkering in place for at least 30 days if not more.
Meditation: It’s not just about blanking your mind. It’s about making the space and bringing attention to your mind. There are endless apps out there now that offer free guided meditations. Insight Timer, Calm are just two that come to mind. However, if staring at a candle or chanting a mantra, or even listening to a guided meditation isn’t your jam, simply do my favorite meditation; box breathing. Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts and repeat. The simple act of having to count to 4 for each of the anchors will keep your mind from wandering. You can’t count and think about something else at the same time. Go ahead, try it.
Mindfulness: Is simply the act of being more aware of your actions, whatever those might be…you can be mindful in your eating, your interactions with family, how you speak to your kids, how you do your laundry or even clean your toilets. It’s easy to zone out when we do mundane tasks that we’ve done a thousand times before. Bringing your attention to these tasks makes you a lot more single-mindedly focused (which is great for those of us with monkey-mind). As an experiment, instead of reading, watching TV or talking to anyone during your next meal, just focus quietly on each bite you take. Savor the flavors, appreciate the sources of your food, express gratitude that we are not experiencing food shortages and that people are being super civil and kind to each other in the grocery stores (albeit from a 6ft distance).
Movement: Social distancing means we can’t be with our friends, coworkers or really anyone except our immediate family and must maintain a 6ft distance with anyone else we encounter. Thank goodness for the great outdoors, and for those of us who have the privilege of living in small towns where this is feasible, or better yet, have access to miles of hiking trails as we do, this makes it that much more palatable. You don’t have to have cabin fever. You CAN get outside. Walk your dog, take an online yoga class or dance class in your backyard/front yard, walk on the beach, walk or run the of trails (All trails is a fabulous app that can show you what you have in your own neighborhood).
Nutrition: If you’ve never been able to find the time to get serious about your nutritional intake there’s never been a better time. This does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as first taking the time to track your food intake for a few days and then assessing if what you are consuming is healthy for you. Having a balanced meal means complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats. Check out Dr. Mary Hyman’s website for great resources. Here are a few quick things you can do right away.
Minimize the 3 As (acidic, allergenic, addictive foods)
Balance Blood Sugar (reduce processed foods and added sugars)
Support Your Digestive System (include adequate fiber and incorporate a probiotic into your diet).
Rest: Ah, the ever elusive rest. Most Americans do not get 8 hours of sleep a night. It’s a known fact that new parents get less than 5-6 hours of sleep per night; however this number doesn’t change as the kids get older. Stress and other factors continue to keep those Z hours way below the recommended average. Now is a great time to boost this number. You’ve got nowhere to go and nothing critical on your calendar. The first step to resetting your circadian rhythm and your body clock is awareness. Being aware of when you sleep and what your habits are before bed time will help you change this. Most of us can get lost in our social media or news feeds and we tend to just lose ourselves in the black hole of the thumb scroll.
Set a new precedent and put social media or other screen time limits for yourself. Instead of scrolling through your news feed before bed time, which will simply exacerbate your frustration and inability to wind down, get your news first thing in the morning or throughout the day, but limit yourself from reading the news say after 8pm, and switch your reading to be more for leisure.
Pick up a real book, revisit a classic or read those titles you have been saving for ‘when you have time,’ that time is here now.
Take a leisurely bath; again one of those elusive luxuries that we never have the time for. Create little rituals for yourself and your family (our bed time ritual as a family is to play crazy eights or UNO and then do 1 minute of plank, 1 minute of wall sits and as many push ups as we can do!)
As a society we live in a high state of ongoing stress. Stress was never meant to be chronic. Stress triggers certain hormones that the body produces to protect itself, however when we experience chronic levels of stress (and therefore overproduction of those hormones) we may experience chronic disease. We may not have control over the fact that we have stress in our lives, but we can certainly control HOW we deal with the stress.
We have an opportunity to support each other, love each other and encourage each other (from a safe 6 ft distance or more) through this situation. Now is a time to reach out to each other more than ever before. Technology like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Marco Polo and Zoom (we are hosting a Zoom party for my daughter who turns 13 tomorrow) all exist to help us shrink this feeling of isolation and can connect us to each other in a more meaningful, less distracted way.
We are in this together and will prevail together. We are #EARTHSTRONG