The world as we know it has changed nearly overnight. As the coronavirus has swept around the globe, it has left in its wake change for almost every human alive. Health care workers are struggling to stay protected and manage the number of ill who need care, parents struggle with how to keep their children learning as schools close, and everyone is struggling with how to maintain a sense of normalcy as jobs are lost, businesses are closing, and the best way to contain the spread of the virus is to stay at home.
All of these changes, even without the threat of the virus, can wreak havoc on our health. The most important thing we can do right now is keep ourselves healthy, physically as well as mental and emotionally.
- Be present. Now is the perfect time to start a meditation practice. There are many options out there that offer free options, (Calm and Headspace are two favorites), as well as countless online meditation challenges that you can access for free. A basic way to start is to set a timer and follow your breath, or do a body scan, where you move your awareness through your body and focus on any sensations. Creating space in your mind will help you manage the high level of stress that is all around us in these times.
- Design a routine. You probably find yourself with countless hours to fill every day. Sit down and map out when you will work out, (mornings have been found to be the best time of day to be consistent), meditate, journal, eat meals, bedtime and waking time, reach out to someone else, and of course, shower and change clothes. It may feel odd to schedule some of these, but it will help you find some consistency and a sense of rhythm to your day.
- Spend time with gratitude. There are so many terrible things to focus on. The news offers an endless stream of them. Be sure to shift your focus throughout the day to what you are grateful for in your life right now, just as it is. You can choose the smallest thing, or reach for something bigger. Be sure to spend some time really feeling the gratitude in your body, noticing any sensations.
- Look for a way to help. A powerful way to counteract stress is also fairly counterintuitive. Research has found that reaching out to help others in times of stress decreases stress hormones in the body, and raises levels of hormones that help us feel calm and safe. Helping will look different in these times. Reaching out via Facetime or Zoom to someone who is alone, or offering to shop for someone who is high risk are places to start.
None of us are immune from facing change right now. Do your best to support you and your family in creating healthy behaviors during this time. Be flexible; if something doesn’t feel right, try something else. We are all navigating these tricky times together, so the more we are able to keep ourselves well, in body and mind, the better equipped we will be when it’s time to step back into the world.
Kalia Kelmenson, Certified Wellness Coach : mauimindandbody.com