We’ve all come to the place where we understand nothing is normal anymore. And while we don’t know the timeline for being released not just from quarantining, but also from uncertainty and fear about the future, we do know we need help coping during these unprecedented time. Feelings of anxiety are abundant. Grief is showing itself. For some, depression and OCD are becoming companions.
People are finding new ways to implement routine. New ways to manage emotions, especially as they impact mental health. New ways for everything.
In my practice, I talk a lot about the mind-body connection, and now is no exception. So I think it’s really important people are caring for their physical health with the intent of it positively impacting their mental health. This is more than making sure you still get in a workout (which I am all for). This is about taking care of your body because it’s connected to your brain. And BOTH of those parts of you are working overtime right now.
So take a quick read through this list o’ five and give them a try in your life. Remember, taking care of your body is taking care of your brain which is taking care of your mental health.
1) Make sure you stretch! Especially your hip flexors.
I say it often, but we hold emotions in our bodies. And I know we’re all feeling extra emotions right now! Over the past hundred years, we’ve become more sedentary and our bodies are not made for that. Especially now, when we aren’t even getting up to go to the copy machine, go visit a coworkers office, or even just walk from the parking lot to our office or store, our bodies are in need of EXTRA consideration.
People are doing a great job of considering online workout options. From Peloton offering their programming for free to yoga with Adrienne, a variety of fitness instructors are contributing in a lovely way to this pandemic.
I want to encourage everyone to add stretching as much as possible to their daily routine. It can be between virtual meetings or even while you’re watching TV. But allow those muscles to breathe, and allow your body to release the pent-up emotions its holding onto right now.
2) The 20/20/20 Rule. Use it!
Our eyes strain, even if you don’t notice it, when we look at a screen all day. And we are obviously looking at our screens for an even longer daily duration right now. It means our eyes are not being utilized to look at objects in the distance, which can cause issues with our eye muscles. So use the 20/20/20 rule! Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet in the distance for 20 seconds. I promise your eyes will thank you! (Set a timer reminder if you must.)
Water is so helpful for your immune system, digestive system, and just overall functioning. But I know people are drinking more caffeine and alcohol right now. (More on that another time.) Make sure your water intake hasn’t diminished, and I would even encourage it to increase to the best of your ability. Remember, water is the greatest source of energy for your brain.
4) Physical Touch…….one of the hardest considerations right now!
For those that live alone, especially, the lost of proximity to others is especially draining. I would encourage you to use mindfulness when showering, doing your hair (if anyone is doing that these days), or other activities around your body and caring for it. When you’re putting on lotion at night, pay attention to the process. It’s so hard to be devoid of hugs and closeness, and this is no substitution, but it can be a semi stop-gap measure. Put lotion on your hands more often in the day (they are getting dry from all of that hand-washing anyway!) and put some on your feet at night.
For you moms, especially moms of littles, who are getting tapped out from all the touching from your kids, talk to your partner about getting a break during the day. I know work schedules are being balanced to the best of your ability right now, but talk to your partner about you getting two 15-minute breaks during the day. Your partner can be on duty with the kids and you can take that time to decompress (again, as best as we all can right now).
5) Ask your body what it needs…seriously.
It may sounds too “woo-woo” and I get that. But now is the time for trying new things because nothing in our life is as it was! So close your eyes, take a few breaths, and check in with your body. See how it feels—where the tension is; if you’re more tired than usual; if you’re reaching for food because you think you’re hungry but your body actually wants tea or water; or if you haven’t eaten because you don’t feel hungry and actually your body is trying to send signals that it does need calories! It may tell you it just wants to lay down for a nap; that it needs fresh air even though it is cold out; or that you’re actually doing ok! But check in with it, reconnect with it, and let it guide your actions.
Bonus Tip: Do something with your hands. Color. Paint. Cook. Build something. Make play-doh(even if you’re grown up!). Pull some weeds in your backyard. Dig up some dirt. But do something kinetic. It will give your body a sense of fulfilment and purpose and also helps your brain.
If you need any support during this time, for any reason, please reach out. I would love to connect and help you in any way I can.