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Keeping the Sanity by Nicole Kluck

There is no doubt in my mind that some of us (if not all of us) are going to be learning new things that we never knew about ourselves before. 

Stress, whether we know it or not, is hitting us hard RIGHT NOW. In the same way that too much or too little water will affect a plant or a change in the weather challenges an outdoor animal, shifts in our daily life, no matter how big or small, has the potential to affect us dramatically. As humans, we find comfort inconsistency, and when you think about our hunter-gather’ ancestors and how inconsistency meant probable death, it makes sense. Comfort is ingrained into our DNA and meant to keep us alive. Stress and adrenaline are meant to get us out of immediate danger by encouraging us to act, by telling us to MOVE MOVE MOVE NOW NOW NOW! 

So what do we do with that adrenaline when were under lockdown, quarantined, and confined to our home, that by now is no longer a place of comfort and rest? 

Eat Nourishing and Comforting Foods: There is no question that food fuels our body, but it also feeds our soul and emotions. It is the way that certain smells, sights, and sounds remind us of comfortable places and can trigger certain feelings we are trying to elicit. It’s common to want to reach for the sugar, salt, and carb-loaded processed foods that trigger our happy hormones, but when your stuck at home and tempted to snack all day, finding a healthier alternative can help you fight the boredom by spending time in the kitchen, as well as save your immune system and diet. Making your own soups, like a simple vegetable soup, can bring you so much warmth and comfort when you need it and is cheaply made. This is also a perfect time to experiment with those healthy Ice cream alternatives, pudding recipes, and baked goods you see on Pinterest! When your shopping, reach for the 60-70% Dark Chocolate instead of your milky bar to snack on since chocolate gives us a natural high, and is high in anti-oxidants. Recipies like my Chia Seed Pudding and Chocolate Chip Cookies are a great place to start! 

Exercise: Moving your body physically in any way is going to help release those happy hormones and endorphins to relax and help us feel safe. This provides a place for the adrenaline and stress that is coursing through our veins, to escape and is a good way help keep a routine in our daily lives. Going for long walks, getting back into daily runs, doing 40 minutes of yoga, or at-home workouts is a good way to ease yourself back into it. There are hundreds of qualified people with high-quality content on YouTube if you do some searching, as well as subscription-based content like FMTV, and GAIA that have hundreds of different exercise and yoga videos at every level and length, as well as documentaries and recipes to help keep you busy! 

Meditation and/or Breathwork: There is a reason the Monks are known for their calmness, both mental and physical. Breathing and taking time to let our bodies consume oxygen and get our thoughts balanced can help to level out our emotions by letting the left and right brain get reestablished and working together. This does not have to be the conventional ways thoughts and ideas of what meditation is! If sitting on a rug and trying to clear your mind isn’t your thing, try writing, journaling, poetry, walks around the block at super early or late hours of the day when it’s quiet, exercising, or anything that gets you to take a breath and take the weight off your chest/shoulders. If you want to try conventional meditation: This short video with Expert Wim Hoff, who happens to be the world-leading expert in breathwork, is a great place to start. Also I love this Meditation series with Kevin Courtney, it is simple, quick, and is not to “far out” for those of you who have never meditated before making it a good way to ease into experimenting with regular practice. Jazz it up and make it more personal and healing with some essential oils like Balance, grounding blends, and uplifting blends. 

Mindfulness: Take care in everything you do. Bringing extra emotions into a time when your already emotionally exhausted can deplete your “cup” even further. Come up with a way to remind yourself to stay present. Set an alarm on your phone to go off every few hours reminding you to take 30 seconds to take a deep breath and check in on your emotions mentally and physically (How am I feeling Physically? How am I feeling Emotionally?), put notes around the house of what you want to remind yourself of (Bring the Joy. You are *insert something positive* … Today I am thankful for…), set up a specific time for you to be alone and plan the feelings you want to bring into your day. This may sound completely incomprehensible to you, but if you DECIDE to be just a little more patient, gentle, or kind for TODAY, with your partner, kids, or roommates, it will follow through full circle, and if anything give you a sense of control over your day. 

Enjoyment: Right now you either are bored (and stressed) out of your mind or don’t know what to do to keep your kids busy. Either way, you have the power to bring enjoyment into what you decide to do. Spend extra time doing tasks that bring you joy, and find ways to bring enjoyment into the tasks you don’t like. If you like cooking, art, or music, spend more time making, creating, and listening. If you hate cooking, cleaning, and entertaining the kids, bring the things you do enjoy back into them, play music while you cook, dance while you clean, and play with your kids in the ways that you enjoyed while growing up to (I’m thinking rolls of string and obstacle courses in the living room. Flour and water newspaper mache. Chemistry experiments like soda and vinegar rockets, or something as simple as playing with toy trains). 

Collectively we all know how hard this is, and is going to be, and these are not cure-all’s or quick fixes by any means. This is also not an excuse to find joy in binge-watching Netflix and eating Oreo’s all day every day because it makes you happy and brings you comfort. We do need to comfort ourselves, but the importance to do it lovingly, in a way that cares for us over the long term, has never been greater. It is OK to not be OK, and you have permission from yourself and the world to feel what you are feeling now. We are all just taking one day at a time, and that in itself is sometimes enough to get you through.

By Nicole Kluck

April 28, 2020
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