Guest post by OMC member Lexi Taylor of Kalon Spa Bellevue
You can increase your resiliency and feelings of hope even in these times of immense stress and life transitions by shifting your mindset and taking care of your body’s basic needs. Increasing your resiliency naturally increases your feelings of hope and your ability to navigate stressful times in life. Having hope is one of the best ways to persevere through any adversity in life weather It be a personal disaster, financial setbacks, or a global pandemic. There have been several medical studies showing that having hope (or a positive outlook) has a protective effect on our brain function and chemistry.
10 ways to increase your resiliency and feelings of hope:
Invite a new beginning
If you are feeling stuck in a middle of a crisis, creating a symbolic fresh start can help you bring in new positive, hopeful energy and move toward healing. One of the best ways to start fresh is by changing your surroundings. Sometimes this can mean a move to a new home, new city or even a new state but other times it can be as simple as changing the energy in your current home. Start by going through your home room by room with the idea of bringing in fresh energy – rearrange the furniture, add a mirror to bring in more light and create the illusion of more space, open up the windows and let fresh air in each day, burn candles you love or diffuse essential oils, create a donation pile of the things that no longer fit in your life. If you cannot do anything to change your physical surroundings, you can create a symbolic gesture for a new start can be as simple as going outside each day to take a few deep breaths of fresh air, lighting a smudge stick to clear bad energy, ringing a bell to set a new intention for the space, meditate, create a vision board for your new ideal, anything that helps you to break the illusion that you are stuck. You are not stuck, you are a new person each day and each moment. It is easy to get caught up in the illusion that your situation is permanent and hopeless when your physical surroundings don’t change during times of great hardship. But it is never permanent, one thing that is always certain in life is change. there is always an ebb and flow of energy, nothing is stagnant in this world. Set your intention for your space and watch things unfold.
Reconnect with nature
Whether it’s a long wilderness hike through the woods or just a walk around the neighborhood (practicing social distancing of course) or even a few deep breaths just outside your front door, sometimes time outside is all you need to reset your mindset and release stress. The power of nature can temper even your worst days and remain an immovable source of strength. People were not made to be away from the grounding source of nature, we crave time in the outside world and although those of use in apartments may need to be a little creative in these times of sheltering in place and social distancing, even a daily walk around the block and getting some house plants to care for can help. The next time you feel the anxiety creep in, take some time in nature, don’t force it just be in the moment and let nature work its magic.
Focus on connection
The feeling of isolation can have detrimental effects on overall wellbeing. Humans are made for connection and we do not fare well without it. While we are separated and sheltering in place, reach out to your friends and loved ones over the phone or video chat instead of texting or email. Connection is especially important for those who live alone or are elderly. Studies have shown time and time again that loneliness is not only a major cause of depression but also of decline in health, especially in the elderly population. Have a virtual happy hour or virtual morning coffee with friends. Encourage kids to FaceTime with their grandparents or aunts and uncles.
Ask for help
Reach out to your support system. It’s easy to feel like you are alone in the world when you are going through a difficult time, but reaching out and asking for help from family and friends for things like getting groceries or supplies if you are feeling anxious going out right now, coming up with projects, etc to entertain the kids while you work (or have a moment to yourself), asking your partner and children for help around the house with chores, or even reaching out to the community to ask for support if you own a small business and are suffering during this pandemic. If you don’t have family nearby to help, even paying for a little extra help by ordering take out for dinner or ordering your groceries to be delivered can help take the mental load off in times of stress. In normal times when we are not ordered to shelter in place, things like asking a family member to watch the kids for a few hours, trading off who makes (or picks up) dinner with your partner, hiring a housekeeper or landscaper 1-2 times a month to help with extra chores or something as small as saying yes to help out to your car at the grocery store can make a difference.
Your body’s hydration levels can have a major effect on your body and mind. Dehydration leads to nausea, headaches, increased pain, sluggish lymph fluid, and even mental confusion. During a stressful event, you want to feel your best and sharpen your ability to think clearly by staying properly hydrated. In times like these, we tend to turn to comfort food full of simple sugars and carbohydrates which may increase your risk of depression, mood disorders, and even chronic health issues. Drinking pure, filtered water to rehydrate your body can promote mental clarity and reduce your cravings for unhealthy snacks.
Repair your adrenals
Hormones in the body shift during prolonged periods of stress. Cortisol, the hormone that helps control blood sugar levels, regulates metabolism, reduces inflammation, and assists with memory formation can skyrocket then plummet as we sustain large amounts of stress and entertainment into adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. Adaptogens like ashwagandha and other supplements along with lifestyle changes can be used to support adrenals and get hormones back on track.*
Release tension through bodywork
Although bodywork is temporarily not available due to the shelter in place mandate, it is still one of the best ways to release the negative feelings of stress, worry, and anxiety. Irritability, crying, headaches, muscle stiffness, and insomnia are often effects of energy that needs to be released from the body. Deep stretches, yoga, heat (hot water bottles or even a warm Epsom salt bath), or using a tennis or lacrosse ball in areas of tension are all ways to release physical tension on your own. You can take turns with your partner giving each other massages and of course when things return to normal book a massage with your massage therapist!
Decrease whole-body inflammation
My favorite way to decrease inflammation is, of course, lymphatic decongestion therapy, but until I can see you back in the office there are things you can do at home to reduce the inflammation in your body! Our bodies experience a harmful inflammatory response when subjected to prolonged stress, to combat this you can increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, decrease intake of inflammatory foods, control your blood sugar, increase exercise, and take supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and CoQ10.* These things help to decrease the long-term effects of stress on the body by bringing down inflammation and soothing the tissues.
Deepen your sleep
Good sleep is crucial when going through times of great stress. Your body needs restorative sleep to recover from the stress of the situation. Ways to improve sleep include shifting your nighttime routine, sleeping on a grounding mat (such as the PEMF mat used in the spa), reducing blue light exposure at nighttime, decreasing caffeine intake, using supplements such as melatonin to help sleep*. Increasing to quality of your sleep can increase your resiliency and hopefulness, reduce depression, and helps to calm stress and anxiety.
Check your thyroid
This one is hard to do while under a shelter in place mandate, however, thyroid levels can have a tremendous effect on our ability to function in day to day life. Long-term stress leads to adrenal fatigue and ultimately thyroid function suffers. When your adrenals are worn out, your thyroid begins to down-regulate its healthy production of hormones in order to force you to slow down and recuperate. Your thyroid shifts to a hypothyroid state to encourage the rest and repair of your body. This can make you feel chronically fatigued among other symptoms. If you are left with long-term loss of energy, weight gain, dry skin and hair, depression or fatigue you may want to consider getting your thyroid levels checked when we are safe to resume routine checkups. Regulating thyroid levels if they are out of balance can help your energy levels, mood and resiliency.
While we all hope to resume our normal schedules soon, try to take this time to slow down and connect with those closest to you. Read with the kids, talk with your partner, video chat with friends and family and focus on self-care at home. Declutter your house, go on a walk, start a new hobby, do the things you never have time for and try to just live in the moment.
*This is not medical advice, always check with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements, or dietary changes.
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