Pandemic Self-Care Phase 1
My heart goes out to everyone during the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s shocking how quickly everything changed, and how much we’ve had to give up. I hope you and your family are staying well and safe during this time.
It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? The news is hard right now. Changing how we do everything is hard. Not to mention fears about loved ones getting sick. It’s overwhelming. It’s scary. Things are not ok.
I name these things not to scare us further, but because my current #1 strategy is: Kindly acknowledge how hard this is. It’s ok to not be ok. Nothing is normal. You don’t have to pretend to be.
Hear me out a minute.
We’re all anxious in ways we’ve never been before. We are uncertain, frightened, and sometimes even panicked. I have spent my career supporting people to find their own self-care routines, and have many of my own. And yet…
This week I have often been caught staring blankly off into space, not breathing. I absentmindedly almost put hand lotion on my toothbrush yesterday. I can’t remember what day it is. Fears about the future are rattling me. I am suddenly addicted to news and social media on several devices all at once. In my daily mindfulness practice, I am easily distracted and can’t stop thinking. I feel a bit like I am drowning sometimes. And I am; my nervous system is on overload.
Because of how deeply this is affecting all of us, I have changed my main self-care strategy to the only one that really matters: Kindness.
Please be kind to yourself right now. Start there. Forget positive thinking for a minute. Let yourself be scared, sad, angry, all of it. Let your loved ones feel whatever they are feeling. Be kind to the part of you going into fight/flight/freeze. Stop trying to keep up, and instead sit down for a minute. You are not broken. The world is broken. And you, your immune system, and your nervous system need something: Kindness.
Self-care for the New Era, Phase 1:
- When you get overwhelmed, take 30 seconds to focus inward and say “It’s ok to feel this way. This is overwhelming.” No judgment. Just leave it at that. Then get back to what is needed.
- When you can, sit or lie down and just rest for 1-5 minutes. Even if you’re anxious or your mind is racing. Act as if you are caring for an upset child, and just rest quietly, sending yourself kindness. Just rest in that, no matter what else you’re feeling.
- Get support from people who know how awesome you are, and who believe everything is going to be ok eventually. But who also let you say openly, “This sucks, and I feel XXX about it!”
- Talk about these feelings without feeding the panic. Just let yourself be heard. No fixing. No catastrophizing. Just acknowledging the facts. “I feel very anxious right now.” “I don’t know what to do.” “I’m worried my parents will get sick.” “I don’t know how I’ll be ok financially.” Get it out of your body. Don’t feed or stuff it. Just let it out. Make sure you do this for others. It is a form of kindness to be heard without judgment.
- Get angry at the damn virus if you need to! Shake your fist at the sky. Anger is a part of the grieving process, and we are all grieving the loss of normalcy right now. Kindly acknowledge the fact that anger might be here too.
- As much as you can, bring compassion to everyone out there. We are all a mess.
- You can trigger positive memories and emotions through your sense of smell. To harness this, inhale essential oils, or diffuse them into a room. Use ones you know you love, or experiment with new ones. Citrus oils like orange and bergamot are uplifting, and mandarin and lavender are very relaxing. Inhaling rose oil can open your heart and make you smile as you remember the good things in life.
- Take a hot bath with 4-5 drops of lavender essential oil to promote nervous system recovery.
- Here is a short meditation for your nervous system:
Breathe in: Send kindness to yourself
Breath out: Send kindness to those around you
Breathe in: Send kindness to yourself
Breathe out: Send kindness to the world
Repeat all of the above as often as possible. You will still feel all the things. We are in a very hard time. Your body and psyche need help coping, so bring kindness to all of it. It matters.
Lisa Tongel, LAc
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At Portland Acupuncture Studio, we have three highly skilled acupuncturists ready to help you on your self-care journey. Contact us today to see how we can support your nervous system during these unsettling times.