Guest Author: Tara Jackson
As we aspire to persevere during these uncertain COVID-19 times — with life and reality as we know it halted — it is natural to feel overwhelmed, and feelings of anxiety and fear as well as old traumas might arise.
This is exhausting both physically and emotionally. Your body might adopt the “fight, flight, or freeze” response, and as a result you may revert to behaviours and patterns that can be harmful in the long term: drinking or eating too much, watching non-stop TV, etc. You may find it hard to sleep or motivate yourself if you feel trapped by what is happening around you outside of your control, and you may not be able to care for yourself as you normally would.
Taking care of yourself can seem almost impossible under these circumstances, but this is when you need to the most. So here are a few simple tips which will support you to come back to your body and find a sense of peace within yourself:
Feel What You Are Feeling
Acknowledge that the circumstances presented by COVID-19 are completely out of the ordinary, and it is okay to feel whatever you are feeling. Feel any pain, rage, anger, sadness, or whatever else may come up and be kind to yourself. You may want to journal out the feelings, get them out through movement/physical exercise, or express them creatively. You may choose to share them with a coach/counsellor or someone you trust. Whatever your preferred method, it is critical that you acknowledge your feelings, as this is the first step to moving through what is happening and supporting yourself.
So simple and so powerful, yet so easily forgotten in moments of fear or anxiety. Taking long, deep breaths into your entire body (particularly into your lower belly) will help you to get out of the fight, flight, or freeze response and allow your body to relax. Take the time to do this regularly, particularly if you are feeling anxious. If you are able to go and lie on the grass or with your back to a tree and take some deep breaths here, this will be extra supportive for you.
You may find you have more time on your hands to think, or you may have had an active mind already, so it’s easy to get lost in thoughts and situations in your head, replaying things or even trying to predict the future. Instead, try bringing your attention back to the present moment. Ultimately, we can’t change the past or predict the future with our minds, and trying to can lead to unnecessary thoughts that can spiral negatively. Whenever you notice your thoughts doing this, instead bring your attention back into the present: try focusing on an object next to you – notice all of its different colours, textures, and shapes. Then move on to another object. The more you do this, the easier it gets.
Look After Your Basic Needs (As Best You Can)
Food, hydration, and sleep are essential to everyone but are so easily forgotten when times get tough. Remembering to nourish your body and get sleep when you can will help with how you handle this situation enormously. Even a small amount of sleep deprivation and dehydration can impair your normal body and brain functions. If it’s hard to manage, go for little and often with both sleep and nourishment and ideally eat the most nourishing food possible.
I hope these simple practices help. Please do reach out for support if you are struggling as you don’t have to do this alone.
Tara is a holistic wellness coach and the author of “Embodied: A Self-Care Guide for Sensitive Souls”. She supports people with seasonal and cyclical self-care, self-love, reconnecting with themselves, and being fully embodied, so that they can thrive in today’s fast-paced world.