Ahhh these are very different times for many of us. It’s well into week two of distancing here, and at times it feels as though the walls are closing in. Cabin fever is amongst us. As Glennon Doyle puts it in this post here– It’s getting chippy.
But what to do?? There’s no heading out to the gym/office/pub to be done. We are all here. Together. Most importantly, staying safe and looking after each other. But as independent creatures, used to living our independent lives, it takes some adjusting to.
(They don’t say ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ for no reason….)
And meanwhile, our Sainsbury’s extra down the road has mentioned that they may not be restocking wine and beer for the foreseeable…mercy….we need strategy and tactics my friends…
So here are my top tips (I actually have a ridonkulous long list – but these are my tippity toppity top seven tips!)
- Walk – big long walks may be your thing, but if you have grouchy kids or are pursuing a greater level of self isolation they may be shorter than you’d like. With the government recommending 15 minute ventures out, take the time to really tune into the world around you. Allow yourself to become aware of the changes.
In our neighbourhood, which is close to a busy road, not only is it incredibly quiet at night (loving that!), but the birds have come back in the most astonishing way, ground feeding birds like pigeons, thrushes and blackbirds are everyday, sparrows and various tits flock in great numbers and coolest of all – a neighbour spotted a sparrowhawk devouring a pigeon in their garden. How freaking cool is that?? Take note of the air quality, noises, and such. Enjoy the window paintings and marvel at how easy it is to guesstimate the age of the occupants by the level of artistry in each rainbow.
2. Grounding – getting your bare feet on the earth can mean big health benefits – check out this article from the Journal of Environment and Public Health. We are spending more time in our houses, that’s often more time watching screens sat on our jaxies. A few minutes outside,with your feet on soil/ grass/ concrete (just visualise past it!) can make all the difference.
When I talk about grounding – there’s a chemical element (see the article) but there’s an intentional energetic element too. When you are feeling all at sea, with anxiety creeping in, take a moment to breathe deeply, in through the top of your head and out through the soles of your feet. As you breathe out through your feet, imagine silver threads exiting with the breath. With each breath, allow these threads to thicken, driving deeper into the ground. Spread your ‘roots’ far and wide, feeling yourself anchored and secure. Imagine how it would feel to be a grand tree, letting the wind pass through your branches without damage as you bend and sway with all that comes your way.
3. Sleep – now is a good time to take a nap. I mean really, don’t you find all this readjusting exhausting?? Or have an early night – during the first week of lockdown I found myself crawling into bed at 7:30pm. At the time it felt utterly ridiculous to be considering sleep so early. But with all the upheaval of home schooling whilst trying to run a business from home, I needed to make space to rest. Remember, to check in and ask yourself – what would feel good for me right now?
4. Group Howl – in our family when one of us is frustrated, you can pretty much guarantee that we’re all frustrated. Instead of stuffing it down and getting grouchier and grouchier with each other, sometimes the best thing to do is let it out.
The aim of the game is to stay non directive. There is no requirement for blame. You take responsibility for your frustration and let it out, THEN once the energy has levelled out you can have a conversation about what’s hacking the group off. Remember that in times like these, it’s often the situation that creates the frustration, it just looks like it’s an individual! If you feel the frustration build, let it out, have a mini tantrum (the first time you do this everyone else will look at you as though you are a little batshit – this is perfectly okay.) Stamp your feet, let out a yell, and encourage those around you to do the same. This is a judgement free zone, you say. Normally, these moments in our house result in a lot of noise, followed by a lot of laughter as we realise how narked we were all feeling. If you feel that your frustration is too great to let out in a group situation – I fully recommend the Pillow thing at 6) and also this…
5. Keep a journal – feeling ansty? Write it down. All your thoughts and feelings, write them down. Let your brain spill out all the feelings. Get it all out. Stage two is about asking what’s true. In all that you wrote, what is true for you? What is based on your beliefs? And what is based on the beliefs of others? What do you do and say that keeps other people feeling safe and happy, but makes you feel ‘less than’. You can find plenty of journaling prompts in my free ebook – click here to download a copy.
6. Beat up a pillow – very cathartic if the world is p*ssing you off. Grab that cushion and give it a belt. Here’s my take on it.
7. Breathe – When the going gets tough, the tough get breathing. Harness the power of your breath to calm your nervous system and move from ‘fight or flight’ to ‘rest and relax’ mode.
I often talk about diaphragm breathing as a shortcut to calm, and it really works. Start by shifting your attention away from breathing into your ribs and down to your belly. Breathe with the intention of inflating your abdomen like a barrel – you’re looking for 3d expansion not just puffing your tummy out.
If you feel like your breath is stuck high in your ribs, try activating your diaphragm by gently rubbing your bony sternum (that’s the bone that runs top to bottom, down the middle of your chest). Take your time breathing in, pause before breathing out, let your breath out slowly (see if you can make it last longer than the inbreath) then pause momentarily before breathing in again.
There are many different breathing practices – a lot of them are great. Have a search for Box Breathing if you’d like a structured practice you can follow. Or try my diaphragm breathing video here.
That’s the first few ideas that spring to mind!
The main thing I think, is to remember that these are unprecendented times are we’re all trying to work out how it all works – especially when advice and expectations are changing every day. Be kind – to yourself and to others. Lead with your heart, this won’t last forever.
In the meanwhile, if you’d like more ideas, check out my next post.
Big love, Carrie x