Offered to you by Mari Alexander
Below are some basic issues we are all dealing with during these times along with ideas of how to deal with them. The intent is to calm our nervous systems and restore our balance.
1. Predictability allows us to plan and anticipate our days and right now there is a lot we just don’t know. Our lives are not predictable. So:
- Make a schedule: when you’ll get up and ease into the day with a mindfulness practice (meditation, yoga, Qigong, journaling, drawing etc.) Get dressed!
- Set when you’ll eat your meals, and what activities you’ll do
- Sunday evenings look at the week and create a plan for the week.
- Your plans will give you something to look forward to doing in specific time frames.
2. Find ways to activate your body – Moving your body helps you physically & emotionally!
- Live Streaming fitness, dance, yoga, tai chi, NIA, Zumba classes.
- Walks, runs, skipping, bicycling, dancing, hopscotch – gardening . . .
3. Connection – We are meant to be collective – and wired for connection!
- We need to be seen, to be heard and paid attention to and engaged with others.
- Create ways to connect daily with people you are close with: live stream gatherings, make or eat meals with other people in their kitchens doing the same; story-telling, read books aloud to another, make music (sing-alongs or jams) together with friends …virtually. Feel the joys of seeing others’ expressions, hearing their responses; share tears and laughter with your friends and family.
4. Check in with yourself periodically during the day. Take note: are you numb inside? Is your body contracted, your breathing shallow …get to know the difference between being present with yourself and being numb. Numbness isn’t selective: all of you gets numb making connection with yourself and others difficult.
Mindfulness can be grounding and bring you back to yourself. Breathing is one way: breathing into your belly, holding your breath for a few counts then emptying your belly of the air– holding and doing it again for 10 breaths, following your breath with your minds’ eye. A few minutes of this can ground you and bring you back to yourself (to being present). Can also sit on a bouncing ball, gently rhythmically counting the bounces; choose a color and count how often it shows up in your home listen to music and count the rhythm…: all create mindfulness and presence.
5. Time can feel like it’s standing still: uncertainty in the future skews our sense of time. Having a schedule with definite things you will be doing each day and week will help put time back in view for us. Having sense of time is comforting.
6. Sense of safety can feel threatened. Notice what makes you feel calm and include it in your day. Touch is vitally important. People you’re with or animals in your home can be very consoling. If you’re alone, get the sense of touch inside your own body: remember times when you have been held, cuddled, touched: visualize those times and remember the sensation of that touch in your body,
Privacy is also an aspect of safety. Identify a place where you can withdraw from others and be with yourself. Journal how you’re feeling and know that you may have an array of feelings surfacing at the same time…some fears right alongside feelings of faith and comfort that you and yours will be alright. Let all your feelings be there: one doesn’t have to take over for other feelings.
Media: Social Media can consume you just as the news can. You probably will stay abreast of all you need to in 5-15 minutes of news a day. Best not to look at news first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Put your phone away so you can be present with yourself as it can easily hijack you.
7. Who are you during this period of unpredictability and changes in time and priorities? What is your purpose during this time? Remember that this is temporary. Remember that your purpose lives on inside you and you will have the opportunity to live it. Remember experiences that you have lived already that have felt purposeful and resonated with your value and your desires. Picture those experiences in your minds’ eye and feel your heart open and your body relax into the memories. You are the person who is experiencing this now AND you’re the person who has experienced many other things in your life. All are you.
By Mari Alexander, SIETAR USA member. April 5, 2020