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By Kara Jackman
How are we doing? I mean really doing. This is a surreal time, but as I have been reminded by many in our community, we have made it through tough times before. Thus, we truly are uniquely prepared for this time in our nation’s history, battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am sure you are wondering, how do we manage this seismic change to our lives. I’ve read much about how to handle everything from working from home to home schooling. All of which is well and good, but true work must begin within one’s self: mind, body, and soul. But what does that look like? Here are some suggestions.
Calming the Mind
I originally titled this section “Clearing the Mind,” but quickly realized that is an unrealistic expectation even under normal circumstances. Our mental health is everything. We must be able to calm the racing thoughts and tough emotions, so that we can execute all the tasks that make up each day. Where do you begin? A friend suggested on Sunday morning that I begin my day with meditation, journaling, or prayer. I must say I did all three and it really helped. I also wrote a “to do” list. All of it took less than 10 minutes. It really organized and clarified my priorities. I was more productive and self-assured, too. For meditation, or mindfulness practices, please check out the Calm app, Fitbit’s 90-day FREE premium membership, or check out the offerings on Youtube by searching for “guided meditations.” I would suggest ending your day in much the same way, too. There is something so vital about these transition points, out of and into, restorative sleep.
The other important element for boosting our mental resolve is through physical movement. I will not be so bold as to say the dreaded “E” word, exercise, because I hate to lose a captive audience. That said, committing to some physical movement that works best for your body is vital. Go for a walk, preferably outside, with your family, while honoring the six-foot distance that we must maintain for social distancing. Yoga, or just simple stretching can help, too. Tai Chi and other martial art forms can be soothing, too. Here’s a couple videos from youtube to get you started.
With the gym closed, I have turned to the streets to run. I am by no means fast, but I make it fun, listening to music that I love, taking pictures of the interesting things I come across on the road. What will you do?
Love The Skin You're In
If the thought of physical activity freaks you out, don’t worry. There are other ways to stimulate your physical body to bring about the positive mental health you need during these trying times. Take care of your skin. It is the largest organ of your body. Watch this six minute video about how dry brushing and applying body lotion or oil can calm your stress response. You can perform dry brushing on yourself, your children, and even your pet. Additionally, dry brushing can be helpful for those of us that have sensory processing issues. And if not for all those reasons, who doesn’t love to pamper themselves?
Go ahead, it’s not weird. We need human touch, to heal, feel settled in our physical being. But we are told not to touch others, so we can’t do this one, right? No! You can hug yourself, which in this study was shown to reduce physical pain. In fact, you could probably do this with others while maintaining the mandated six-foot distance. There is also a move called a hookup, used by some teachers and occupational therapists for individuals with Attention Deficit and Hyper Activity disorder. Learn more about it in this article.
This is how you can perform a hookup. Sit, stand, or lay down. Cross your legs. Stick your arms straight out, then cross your wrists one over the other, and face your palms together. Then interlace fingers and swoop your arms down and into your body, hinging at the elbows. Your hands will land just below your chin. Now breathe deeply, from the abdomen, in through the nose, and out through the mouth. During a time when we really cannot hug others, I find these so very calming. Focus on loving-kindness in your mind while you do the breathe and body work. You will find yourself more grounded in the here and now.
I hope you take these suggestions to heart. Please consider implementing some or all of them in your daily lives, while experiencing these extremely stressful times.
More resources for Families and Individuals
While geared toward kids and education, I found this link to provide very helpful advice on stress reduction, nutrition, and caring for our bodies.