We all know that life can present some challenges from time to time, however big or small they can have a negative impact on our health both physically and emotionally. With the current unprecedented times that we find ourselves, maintaining a healthy body and mind during times of challenge, is more important than ever.
Being closed off from our normal routine of work, school and social interactions brings with it a valuable sense of slowing down, a time in which we find space for introspection and become completely present with the simple tasks in life. However, the flip side of this situation is a rise in mental health issues through restriction on social interactions and exercise opportunities as well as the inevitable anxiety triggered by the global pandemic.
So, what can we do to combat these feelings? What tools can we use to lift the mood and maintain health when life presents such challenges?
Eat yourself happy
It is very easy to slip into bad habits when we move through tough periods in our lives, the urge to comfort ourselves through quick fixes such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol is never greater. These dietary ‘crutches’ or anti-nutrients serve as momentary pleasures and when their intake increases, we can find ourselves feeling irritable, tired, encouraging feelings of anxiety and low mood. When we experience these emotions after eating it is a clear sign that the brain and the body are not receiving everything they need and they are crying out for nutrient-dense, mood-boosting foods. The following foods have been proven to lift mood and promote an overall sense of wellbeing:
- Fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut
- Lentils and other pulses
- Walnuts and almonds
- Chia sunflower and flax seeds
- Leafy greens
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate – the darker the better.
These are tough times we find ourselves in, and the impact on our sleep can be huge. Whether you are finding it difficult to drop off or you fall asleep but are wide awake again two hours later, start by creating an environment that’s conducive to promoting a restful night’s sleep.
- De-clutter your bedroom, create a clear space.
- Have a relaxing, candle-lit bath before heading to bed
- Create a calming sleep oil. Mix 100ml of sweet almond oil with 4-5 drops of lavender oil known to aid relaxation along with ylang-ylang oil known to help with anxiety and apply this to your skin after a warm bath
- Let your room breathe, open a window
- Keep lighting low
- Restrain from late-night scrolling on your device
- Try a short, evening meditation – need guidance? Find a podcast or use the headspace app.
In these unusual times it can be easy to feel disconnected from loved ones, friends, family…the world! The social circles that we have created and nurtured over time are essential to our overall feeling of wellbeing and in times of crisis we need these people like never before. The current climate can bring about a very real feeling of isolation and it is now that we need to become creative with how we honour those relationships with the people we love. Find connections through digital channels, picking up the phone – plan quizzes and Zoom parties, share recipes and new hobbies, be open and honest about how you are feeling. We need to share and offload like never before, that sense of community and connection has never been stronger.
Learn something new
If you do find yourself with a little more time on our hands rather than falling into the same old routine, try to mix things up a bit and turn your hand to something new. Studies have shown that having a hobby can increase feelings of wellbeing by relieving stress and anxiety and encourage acts of mindfulness. We are lucky enough to have the world at our fingertips with a huge array of online courses rich for the picking. So, whether it be cooking, art therapy or learning another language, there is no time like the present.
You don’t need a garden; it can be as simple as planting a few herb seeds in a plant pot on your window sill. Planting a seed, nurturing it and watching it grow can be a wonderful way of appreciating life and feeling gratitude. Not only do you have something delicious to add to your salad, it can taste so much better when you’ve grown it yourself.
Out with the old
If you find yourself with time on your hands in between the home-schooling and remote work, then there’s nothing like a good, old sort out to lift the spirits and clear the mind. When your house is cluttered your mind can feel like that too so take some time to clear, organise, clean and where possible ditch/recycle those things you no longer need.
Easier said than done when it is the only way we can stay connected with work, with school, with friends and family. And yes, social media has never been such a positive vehicle for maintaining those valuable connections and reuniting with friends you haven’t spoken to in years, but once you have done what you need to do make a conscious effort to leave the phone and laptop in the next room and give yourself a good few hours of downtime especially before heading off to bed. If you’re a late-night or first thing scroller, make sure you keep the phone out of your bedroom.
Journaling is the practice of keeping a diary or journal that explores thoughts or feelings around your life. It is a proven effective tool for stress management through a means of self-exploration. The theory is that you express and place structure around your anxious feelings which reduces stress and the physical impact that stress has on your body. Expressive writing is also a route to healing, emotionally, physically and psychologically, by translating our experiences into language we remove emotional blockages, which on a physical level has been proven to lift mood and improve immune function.
Keep moving (and be still)
Sounds simple but it is so important in maintaining that overall feeling of wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be high-intensity exercise unless that is what you feel you need. But increasingly I’m finding the need to go slowly in this area, especially in times of adversity. That need to go easy on myself is really strong right now. A gentle yoga practice works wonders at shifting stagnant energy and lifting mood. It can be as simple as rolling out your mat and listening to your breath, finding a comfortable seated position and taking a 5-10 meditation, engaging in a short physical (asana) practice or doing all three. Need guidance on an online practice that could work for you speak to Nicole @wanderingwarrioryoga
Be kind to yourself
So, you might not be doing that online fitness class and the kids may be watching too much TV, whatever pressure you are putting yourself under in this current situation try to dissolve those negative thoughts and focus on how well you are doing in the face of adversity. Think about how quickly you’re adapting. You’re more resilient than you think. So, give yourself time. If you’re not getting all the hours of sleep you need at night, or if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, then take some time for yourself. Slow down throughout the day, allow yourself a moment or two to pause as well as a moment of appreciation of how well you have coped so far. Stop and do something for you, that you know will make you feel good, that will enable you to restore balance and promote that feeling of self-worth.
When you are experiencing low mood and a lack of energy it can be difficult to find joy.
Feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed can be all-consuming in times such as these, but there is a comfort in knowing that you are not alone, we are in this situation together. Run that candlelit bath, pick up the phone to a friend or roll out that yoga mat, it only takes a series of small steps to tap into that feeling of happiness.
Nicole is an experienced yoga teacher, mother and eternal student, passionate about living life to its fullest in the most holistic way. This is her second blog for Sleek Events, to read her first blog click here.
Check her out at @wanderingwarrioryoga or www.wanderingwarrior.co.uk