Over the past 7 weeks, I have experienced an array of emotions. Isolation and global fear of uncertainty, unknown and our human desire to understand, plan, and control have created a turbulent mindset in many.
In these times I have sought to control the things I can and try to accept what I cannot. It’s easier said than done and there are certainly days when I don’t want to get out of bed. Days when I don’t want to cook, clean, study, or even talk. It’s these days that I take a step back and soul search for the compassion and kindness that I would bestow upon the loved ones that I conjure for myself.
April was a rollercoaster of highs and lows. My eldest daughter chose to move out and self-isolate with work friends. She, at 17 years old, is lucky enough to still have a job. There is a narrative to its own in this experience that I won’t unpack here, let’s just say it’s painful.
I awake some days with boundless energy, happiness and blissfully going about my daily routine. I was productive, took time for rest, exercised, and ate well. I’d fall into a deep sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and dreamt of the adventures I’d take when this was all over.
Other days, my refusal to leave the sanctuary of my sheets was a deeper yearning for comfort, connection, and a sense of wellbeing. I reluctantly moved my feet one in front of the other. I sat, struggling to comprehend the enormity of the situation and found myself flitting from one thing to the next with no outcome other than to watch the clock tick over until it was time to withdraw to bed again.
Understanding that we are humans with an array of emotions, allowing ourselves to experience the diversity of these, knowing that tomorrow is a new day, is the way through the fog. Give yourself permission to feel the lulls, allows us to see it for what it is. We are living in extraordinary times, so much uncertainty; however, we cannot let this become our new ‘normal’.
Be compassionately curious about what has given rise to the feelings, thoughts, and how we act upon them. What we suppress, only gives rise to its power.
In these less than ideal days I found a number of non-negotiable actions that worked for me, because let’s be honest, not every day are we wanting to do a 1-hour long workout and audition for MasterChef.
1. Drink 2-3 litres of water a day
This includes clear soups and herbal teas. Dehydration affects all processes in our bodies and a thirsty brain only compounds the perpetuating negativity. Plus hydration allows our bodies to work effectively boosting our immune system. Top up a water bottle in the morning and sip away, refilling throughout the day. Water is contained within every cell in our body. It is the fluid in which all processes occur such as; body temperature regulation, maintaining blood volume, lubricates and cushions joints, acting as a shock absorber for eyes, organs, and spinal cord & brain, active in many chemical reactions throughout our bodies, including energy production and cell renewal, solvent for minerals, vitamins amino acids, glucose other molecules for their absorption and use within our bodies.
2. Exercise each time you go to the toilet
With so much fluid flushing through the toxicity and excess water now flowing through your body, use this time productively to complete squats, pushups (off the bench), Tricep dips (off bath), lunges, high knees, oblique twists. I have a daily target that I’ve set for myself of 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups/core activation, 100 squats. I will do x 20 of an exercise, alternating each time I go. So even on days when I only go for a walk, I have activated muscles that would otherwise be mooching in front of the TV.
I have always loved crosswords, cryptic puzzles and the best way to keep a positive mindset is to keep it busy. Our imaginations can wander aimlessly with the worst-case scenario and this only adds to our growing anxiety. Grab a puzzle book, test your knowledge, and create downtime, positively.
4. Music and movement
Music speaks directly to our soul. Pump your favourite tunes as you do the washing, clean the dishes, vacuum. Combining movement to music will lift your mental fog and get the endorphins flowing through your body. A clean kitchen, laundry, or floor will also make your mind feel a little clearer. Having dishes piled up or washing overflowing isn’t going to help your funky fog mood. Even its 30 mins – a little clearing, cleaning and tidying of your space will make all the difference.
The art of reflective writing in a journal has a cathartic effect on our mindset. It allows us to unpack thoughts, feelings and can help in devising a solution to those pain points that seem so hard to overcome. Sometimes I will draw what I am feeling, other times it is just a series of random words of a page. Try writing 3 things that you were grateful for in each day. Put the diary/ journal by your bedside and reflect and write before you go to sleep.
The practice of gratitude reflects our attitude.
As the weather turns glum and rain forecast for days, it’s easy to create excuses to avoid outdoors. Whilst we can’t all take a hike, a walk around the block, yes in the rain too (take a raincoat), will boost your feel-good hormones, and boost your immunity with the abundance of negative ions in the air. Play with the kids in the backyard or read in the sun (when it's out).
Research conducted in Japan (Nippon Medical School) found that time spent in nature;
Significantly increased numbers of NK (natural Killer) cells and activity as well as enhancing anti-cancer proteins
Significantly decreased the levels of stress hormones
Increased hours and quality of sleep
Decreased scores (POMS test) for tension, anxiety, hostility, fatigue, and confusion
Stimulates a happy disposition
Significantly lower blood pressure and heart rate (reduce risk factors for heart disease)
Increase heart rate variability
Suppress the sympathetic nervous system and increase the parasympathetic nervous system into balance, creating feelings of comfort and relaxation.
Just 10 mins outdoors each day promotes the synthesis action of Vitamin D, a vitamin that we assimilate better when attained through safe sun exposure techniques more so than food sources. A vitamin required for many bodily functions, notably increasing levels of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Your feel-good hormone.
Taking a walk in nature, regardless of the weather will have a remarkably calming effect.
Whatever works for you, note it and come back to that when the fog is hard to lift.
Stay Safe, Stay Home (for now) and Hope to see you on the trails soon!