By Dr. Pamela Plank, ND, LAc
While we are safely tucked away into our homes, it is easy for anxiety, fear, and loneliness to become constant companions. We worry about our health, the safety of loved ones, and the well-being of strangers, while also dealing with concerns about the economy and our own financial safety. Our carefully made plans are crumbling, and we are not able to access many of our coping strategies. So, how do we manage these extraordinary times with grace and integrity?
First, we must grant ourselves the gift of gentleness.
Be kind to yourself—there is so much to process. Your nervous system is working hard right now, and you may be feeling tired even though you are doing “less”. It’s important to acknowledge the load you are carrying, and both lessen expectations of yourself, as well as allow yourself more rest. While it is important to stay current with events, limit your news intake to no more than one hour a day from reputable fact-based sources. We can also look to the plant kingdom for powerful remedies that soothe and calm the nervous system. Holy Basil, Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Lemon Balm, and Chamomile make lovely teas, especially with a little dollop of honey.
The little things count.
While it often seems that thoughts arise of their own accord, we have the power to water and strengthen constructive thoughts, and starve destructive thoughts, just like how we tend plants in a garden. One way to do this is to bring our attention to the present moment with small acts like turning our focus to the smell of a flower or the wonder of the changing colors of sunset. Did you know that no matter what mood you are in, fMRI studies show that smiling activates happiness circuitry in the brain and causes increased production of feel-good hormones? Another trick is to close your eyes for 30 seconds and visualize something that brings you joy. This simple practice significantly decreases production of anxiety hormones and improves immune function.
The power of connection.
Connection builds resiliency and there are many ways we can keep our spirits up while socially distancing. Try writing a real letter with pen and paper and mailing it to a loved one. Or jot down three things you are grateful for daily. And of course, don’t forget how good joyful movement and fresh air can make you feel!
Wishing you and your family health, well-being, ease and peace in these challenging times.