The Power of Simplicity!

Stay sane during COVID-19

Simple Routines to beat anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic

If you can…change it.

If you can’t…change the way you feel about it. (Eckart Tolle)

 

The Coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented and if you are feeling uneasy, frustrated, anxious or can’t see how you will manage, you are not alone. In crisis times the unconscious brain reverts to fight or flight and we can find ourselves more anxious and on edge.

 

So how can we cope in these uncertain times? The answer is that there is power in simplicity! Practicing simple daily routines and self-care will signal to your unconscious mind that everything is ok. If you have more serious concerns (such as financial difficulties or domestic violence) deal with these first – seek support and advice from a charity (e.g. National debt line, Shelter) or a local Citizen’s Advice Bureau. There is also general advice on the nhs and government websites.

 

Below are my top tips for staying sane during the crisis. They may seem common sense, but it’s the simplest things that have the most profound impact on our mental and physical health, and its often these basic things that get forgotten when our brain goes into crisis mode. The government has suggested that the social distancing is not going to go away anytime soon so get started with your new normal today!

 

ESTABLISH A NEW NORMAL

This can be a new routine or a new pace. It’s all about adjusting your expectations…of yourself and others. Recognise that this time is challenging and it’s ok to feel a mix of emotions.

 

We are creatures of habit and with social distancing many of our usual routines just disappeared overnight. Some have had to increase their hours or work in more pressured environments, while others may not be able to work and are having to manage financial worries. Even those who are working from home, may still have to adapt to sharing space in the home with family members or have to fit in extra tasks like home schooling young children or supporting relatives who are shielding.

 

Whatever your situation set yourself a new routine and Include mealtimes, exercise, worthwhile tasks (work, home projects, volunteering), social connection and a bedtime routine.

 

EAT TO NOURISH

It’s easy for healthy eating to go out the window when you are indoors all day, or working in a stressful environment. But healthy eating is a great way to support your body’s immune function, a key part of living well during isolation. This is particularly important if you are a health worker as research shows that a good diet helps your body cope with the stressors of crisis working.

 

You may not be able to get your usual food, so be creative and try new things. If you tend towards emotional eating be aware of this and find someone to talk through your feelings. Many professional therapists are offering online sessionsduring the crisis.

 

GET FRESH AIR AND EXERCISE

Even if it means just opening a window and doing leg raises! If you can, go for a walk every day or join an online exercise class. Many gyms are offering online classes and there are also lots of live and pre-recorded classes to choose from on YouTube, such as Louise Solomon Yogalates or Joe Wicks – find something that is right for you.

 

DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL

If you are working from home, great, but if you can’t work or do your usual daily tasks find new things to do in the house that give you a sense of joy or accomplishment – whether it’s gardening, clearing out kitchen cupboards, finishing a DIY project, getting back into a hobby or starting something new (art, craft, musical instrument, seed growing!). It doesn’t have to be big, just something that takes focus, has an outcome and makes you feel good!

 

CONNECT WITH OTHERS

We are all in this together! We are social beings so if you live on your own try to make a connection with someone over the phone or via video call as often as possible. If you can’t go out then call an old friend or relative, or volunteer to speak to other isolated individuals. If you live with others, be aware of how family members are feeling – everyone is responding in their own ways, and we all will have ups and downs.

 

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

Have a bedtime routine you can look forward to! This might include a warm bath, reading a book in bed or listening to an audio book. Make it something you really enjoy and you may even find yourself going to bed half an hour early!

 

Sleep is a critical factor in staying mentally and physical well. If you are struggling to sleep:

  • notice how what you are doing just before bed (especially social media use, gaming or alcohol) impact on your quality of sleep.
  • try out a meditation or self-hypnosis track to help you switch off.

 

FINALLY!

DO what you can

DON’T worry about what you can’t (Dalai Lama)

Meditation for Health and Happiness

There is a wealth of research that suggests that spending just 10 minutes a day quieting the mind and practicing non-judgemental acceptance can have a transformative effect on your health and happiness, reducing anxiety and improving stress tolerance, as well as sharpening cognitive function, strengthening social engagement and improving personal relationships.

At the start of each year many of us reflect on what we can do more (or less) of to make the year happier and healthier. 20 years ago meditation wouldn’t have been high on many people’s lists, but in 2020 the stresses of modern life mean taking regular time ‘out’ is more imperative than ever. Meditation and Mindfulness have become buzzwords for wellbeing and here is why:

  • Stress Buster: It is now well accepted that having a regular meditation break is beneficial for wellbeing and helps relieve the daily build-up of stress.
  • Physical Health Booster: Scientific studies have shown that meditation can also boost immune function, improve cardiovascular health and be as effective as some medication for pain relief.
  • Work and Study Accelerator: Many schools and offices have incorporated meditation into the curriculum, or workplace, because of the positive effects it has on concentration and memory, and the benefits of increased empathy and social connectedness on workplace relations.

How does Meditation Work?

Meditation changes the way people experience stress, pain or anxiety by creating a non-judgemental awareness of those experiences.

Although more research is needed to fully understand the biological transformation that takes place through meditation, neurological research (neuro-imaging) now suggests that meditation may produce physical and biological changes to brain density and responsiveness. And it is not only those who have years of practice who can benefit.  One study in the US showed that after just 2 weeks of learning meditation, people’s bodies adapted more healthy ways of accommodating stressful situations. Their blood pressure was lower and their cortisol levels (stress hormones) were reduced, showing that even after a short period of regular meditation practice, people were coping better with stress.

How can I start?

Simple techniques in meditation such as the “mindfulness of breathing” and the “body scan” are easy to learn and can be practiced at home or even in a quiet space in the office. There are now many apps (such as https://insighttimer.com; https://www.headspace.com; and www.calm.com) that support a home based meditation practice, as well as courses and retreats for those who wish to benefit from group meditation (such as https://gaiahouse.co.uk; https://www.rivendellretreatcentre.com; https://www.lighthouseretreatcentre.org ).

Why not try out some short meditations on my website.

Or come and join me for a weekly meditation group at the Worcester House Practice in Petersfield. You can also follow my facebook page where I regularly share meditations, posts and research on the benefits of meditation.