10 Tips for Taking Care of Ourselves
There’s not one thing I can say that will quiet your fears about the Corona Virus pandemic.
I can tell you how to cook healthy meals now that you’re home with time to cook. I can advise you on the best kinds of ingredients to boost and support your immune function. I can advise you on the best way to clean so that your home is as sanitary as it can be without leaving a chemical trail in the environment to be dealt with when this is all over.
But I can’t quell all of your fears. And to be frank, our fears are well-grounded. We are living through a global pandemic that’s robbing people of their lives and their livelihoods. Life, as we have come to know it is forever changed. That may not be a bad thing, but we have yet to know that. I am hoping we come through this with the lessons of this virus learned. I am hoping we are wiser, more compassionate, more united, not as harshly judgmental of each other and better stewards of our fragile planet.
Hope springs eternal as the saying goes.
But in the meantime, I thought I would take a few minutes and give you some tips that work for me in managing the stress that comes with this new reality we face. I won’t even think of minimizing your fears because I feel them too. While I cook, clean, exercise and continue my work (to what degree I can), I lose sleep, wondering late at night what our new normal will look like.
Here are tools that help me cope, in no particular order. I use them all throughout a day.
1). Look for the Bright Side
I saw a video the other day of the canals of Venice sparkling clear and blue. With no cruise ships, tour boats or littering residents and tourists to overwhelm the city, Mother Nature has renewed this jewel in the Italian crown.
It gave me great hope. In the midst of Italy’s suffering and devastating loss, Venice is renewing herself. So I wonder, will we come through this loving and respecting our cleaner, fresher planet? I know that I will. We are giving Mother Nature a pause, a time to reboot herself.
When we were kids, my mother would scrub the kitchen floor to a gleaming shine and within minutes we would be trampling over it. But on the rare occasion the floor dried and we didn’t desecrate it for a few minutes, it shone in all its glory. I think of or planet that way: the harried mother trying to keep things clean despite her delinquent children.
Take some time in your day to step outside for a few minutes if the weather is fine. Fresh air always gives us hope. Always.
Since we are glued to our screens, switch off the bad news and look for something positive to lift your spirits.
I allow myself 30 minutes in my day for news and updates on COVID-19. We pay attention to guidelines for safety. There’s no need to obsessively read about it, listen to podcasts and watch pundits drone on. It will only feed your fear and sense of feeling out of control.
2). Eat Miso Soup
Many of you already know this one, but it’s a good time for a refresher. Miso is the world’s oldest and most effective probiotic. Fermented from months to years, miso contains friendly bacteria and enzymes that build strong gut health and there’s never been a time when that’s more needed. I don’t care what kind of soup you make, from broth to hearty bean soups, season them with miso to stay strong with healthy immune function.
3). Eat Less
While we might be exercising at home (you are, right?): running or taking brisk walks will help keep your metabolism firing; lifting weights will help keep your muscles from going flaccid, most of us are not as active as we normally are. I know I get tired of running the steps in my house.
Eating a bit less volume will help you to keep your weight balanced. Eating until you’re holiday feast full, results in lethargy, complacence and depression.
And don’t eat for 2 hours before going to bed. You’ll wake up feeling fresher and more ready for the day’s challenges. It’s ok to go to bed a little hungry; you’re burning fat and allowing your liver to rest. You’ll thank me for this one.
4). The Body Scrub
Do this every day. It’s the best thing I have ever learned in the realm of self-care. You’ll feel so much better. Trust me. You can thank me later.
5). Stay Hydrated
This one is huge (but please don’t believe the stuff going around on Facebook that tells you that drinking water after being exposed to COVID-19 will send it to your tummy where your stomach acid will kill it). Staying hydrated keeps your immune system functioning smoothly. Dehydration, by reducing blood and lymphatic flow, results in inflammation which taxes the immune system.
Cooked and raw vegetables, whole grains cooked in water, soups and old fashioned water keep you hydrated and properly nourished with essential minerals and other nutrients.
If there is to be an upside to this pandemic, it’s that we are all forced to stay home. No doing lunch with colleagues; no quick coffee stops at a local café; no indulgent dinners out. And while we miss the social aspect of connecting with people, (I know I am distraught at not being able to connect with my wonderful chosen family of friends over an espresso), now is the time to take control of our food and cook meals from scratch. Of course, I prefer those meals be whole and unprocessed, plant-passionate, vegan meals, but whatever you cook, do it from scratch and with love and gratitude for this chance to hone your skills and nourish those you love as well as yourself.
There are tons of recipes online and you’re home. No excuses. Even if you’re working from home, home schooling or video conferencing, a pot of beans or a whole grain can be simmering on the stove while you work just waiting to be whipped into a fabulous dish.
7). Call Someone
Our lives, until now, were fast-moving and over-scheduled. Texting has become the preferred form of communication because we don’t have time to chat. How often have you groaned when the phone rang because if you pick it up to talk, that’s time taken from whatever seemed so important. I know I’ve done it; picked up the phone with a sigh because I “just don’t have time for this right now.”
Well, we have time for each other now. Now we crave each other. We don’t want to be left alone.
So call someone. It will make their day and yours a bit brighter.
I have meditated for years, sitting quietly for a few moments when I first get up to put my day and my thoughts in perspective. It was always like an anchor to me.
Then I injured my back (swinging kettle bells; long story) and sitting became (and remains) challenging. A dear friend is a qigong sifu and asked me if I had interest in the practice, a moving meditation, practiced in the morning and before bed for about minutes twice a day, every day. I began my practice 3 years ago and my meditative life once again changed as I have become more adept at moving chi or life force through my body. My back feels so much better and so does my soul.
Find what works for you, be it moving or still, but find a way to settle your mind and turn off the noise. It will help you to cope during these hard times and beyond.
In whatever form it might take, prayer becomes part of a collective voice sending its positive energy into the universe, opening your heart and the hearts of others.
Prayer is not: “Please God, make this virus go away.” Prayer is a way to connect to power greater than us; to align with nature; to soothe the spirit; for strength together.
Prayer takes many forms, from singing to chanting to speaking kindly to yes, conventional praying. Peace, compassion, kindness and connection to each other is more profound with prayer. Without it, we become spiritually bankrupt and lose hope.
10). Wash Your Hands
I could not write a self-care blog without reminding you to wash your hands, often and thoroughly. When I travel in Europe, I love that you must wear a disposable glove before touching produce in the market, preventing unintentional “leave-behinds” on the food. We don’t practice that in the US so wash your hands before you shop. Wash them when you return home and wash all of your produce items before use.
…because you know that even with all the reminders, there are people out there not washing their hands.
Finally, remember that this too shall pass at some point. How we re-enter life, treat each other and the planet and move through this life remains to be seen. I pray that we come through this wiser, kinder, more thoughtful and considerate. I pray that we are united and not so divided by politics and differing viewpoints.
Humans are amazing creatures. Let’s lift each other up during these hard times and come through this trial stronger and more loving.