We are in a situation once again when the world seems to have gone all topsy turvy. Things are so strange that we can’t even agree on what name we are using for this virus that has done so much damage. Is it COVID-19, Coronavirus, or SARS 2? There is a lot of uncertainty out there and for those of us with Autoimmunity or other health issues, there is a lot of fear. I’m not going to go into all the ways that you can take care of yourself right now because I think we all got the message- wash your hands, stay inside, and eat your veggies. What I do want to do is to give you some tips on tending to our mental and emotional wellbeing.
First, stop getting your medical information from your aunt on Facebook (unless your aunt works for the CDC) and go to reputable sources. My functional medicine doctor put out this amazing COVID19 Action Plan and I think it’s a great and comprehensive source of information.
Secondly, manage your energy! I like to think of my energy the same way I look at my money. When I tend to it and invest it wisely it grows and I have more of it to do the things I love but if I don’t, I fall into a cycle of struggle. Struggling to sleep turns into struggling to work in an effective manner which then turns into limited time to be with the people I love or do the things I love. Right now, during COVID 19, managing our energy is also another way to protect our mental and emotional health which is important to our overall health and well being.
Here is how I manage my energy
- Get adequate sleep, ideally between 10pm and 6am since research shows that those times are when our body is doing its job to repair our body and brain.
- Limit and put boundaries around what information is coming in. This looks like checking the news only once or at the most twice a day. You aren’t going to change anything by holding vigilance on twitter. Also, only tune in or read sources from media that has your best interest (not your spending dollars) at heart.
- Stop scrolling and start connecting. Social media is a really amazing tool but since it’s built using the same algorithms as slot machines we have a tendency to scroll for ages. The problem with this (other than its a massive time suck) is that you have no control over what is coming. Maybe its more cute kittens but it also might be a horrible and scary story that causes your body to react like its being chanced by a bear. Instead, get on Skype, FaceTime, Google messenger or whatever you have and check on your people. Tell them you love them, ask them how they are feeling, trade your best stories, or just have them on the line so you can work together.
- Go outside as often as you can. Go for a walk between meeting, do some yoga in the park, go pull those weeds in the garden, or just slip off your shoes and feel the earth under your feet.
- Have a mindfulness/spiritual practice. You don’t have to be religious or be a master meditator to have a practice that gets you grounded, calms your body, and helps you to put things into perspective. Find something that you do every day that grounds you. This could look like prayer or mediation, or it could be journalling, gratitude practice, a mindful walk in nature. There are hundreds of spiritual practices so try some on and see what works for you.
- Take action. So much of our stress comes from a sense of helplessness. You aren’t helpless. Yes, you probably aren’t the person who is going to cure this disease and you can’t save everyone but you can do things. You can take care of yourself, you can remove yourself from the general population so there is less people for the virus to hold on to, and you can tend to your emotional wellbeing. You can also reach out to your friends, donate to the food bank, give your neighbor a roll of T.P. or anything else you feel called to do. Don’t surrender all your power just because you don’t have all the power.
Finally, honor your emotions but don’t get stuck. Its 100% normal to feel fear, frustration, anger, sadness, or any other of the 100s of emotions we can feel as humans. We tend to think we need to push these feelings away but that doesn’t work. They just get louder. You can take a deep breath and say I’m feeling this way and that’s okay. And then, you do the work to say how can I tend to this. I’m feeling anxious, what do I need to do to remind myself and my body I’m safe? Who do I need to reach out to or what thoughts do I need to think?
So what are you doing to protect your emotional health? And/or what song are you using to make sure you get your 20 seconds of scrubbing? Let me know!
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