There is so much information discussing how to protect ourselves from getting COVID-19. I would instead like to discuss emotional wellness. This is a time of great stress as we are in unknown territory. Isolation is not our natural rhythm. We are social creatures in a culture constantly in motion looking for minute to minute stimulation. For all the wonderful contributions of technology, it is a double-edged sword. We are fortunate to have technology as it allows us to stay connected during this difficult time, however, it’s programmed the brain to crave and as a result, we have a hard time being idle. That is where the anxiety can begin.
Change is inevitable but can trigger anxiety in many people. However, as the late Dr. Wayne Dyer said “change your thoughts, change your life”. We cannot change this current situation but we can control our response to it. Worrying about things we cannot control is a waste of good energy and it negatively affects our immune system which we need to be functioning optimally. We cannot control the stock market or the virus but we can control what we allow our ears to hear, our lips to speak and our minds to think. The great ancient medical system from India called Ayurveda tells us that we don’t just digest food. We also digest thoughts, so be mindful of what you are allowing into your psyche.
For those that have a daily spiritual practice which could range from meditation and yoga to a more traditional prayer or chanting practice, you know that your practice helps you stay calm and grounded and provides perspective amidst chaos. For those of you that have never meditated or tried yoga, now would be a great time to start. There are so many online resources. Jon Kabat-Zinn is a favorite meditation teacher of mine. It is also a great time to do things we all complain we never have time to do…read, listen to music (and dance!) or watch the list of movies and TV you have been compiling. You can explore your inner creative by crafting, painting, writing the book you have dreamt about or starting a blog. For me its many on the aforementioned but I also enjoy sewing, cooking and making my own aromatherapy products. I’ve been spending my spare time sewing masks for a local hospital. It’s my contribution to this effort but at the same time is very meditative and grounding. Cooking at home is also meditative and much healthier than eating out. However, purchasing restaurant gift cards for future use or as gifts for those you know are having a hard time financially is a great way to support local businesses and help someone.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I always remind clients that food is medicine. The United States is a sick nation with issues such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic pain on the rise. My hope is that once this virus has moved on, we will address the important connection of food and how it affects health. Within the context of this discussion we must also address how to provide underserved communities with healthier food options that they can afford. Just addressing these topics would create a much healthier America.
In addition to treating this time as an inner retreat, reaching out to others helps us stay connected and feel that we are not alone. So many have lost their livelihood and are frightened about the future. Just having someone to talk to can be calming. Facetime with friends over a cup of tea or glass of wine and check in on neighbors or anyone you know who is alone.
Make this a time for fortitude, compassion and self-reflection. We will all get through it and emerge more enlightened.
Be well, safe and peaceful.