Updated: Mar 16
We are suddenly faced with strange times - confronted with a whole new range of challenges. It is more important than ever to really care for ourselves - but how does that look in times of quarantine?
Below I present some of my favorite strategies to deal with stress - especially as it relates to social isolation. I also present some thoughts of how maybe, just maybe, there might be some personal and collective growth emerging on the other side of this crisis.
I can add that all of these strategies will also help you boost you immune system, and help keep your hormonal health in check.
Eat nourishing foods
What we eat creates the foundation to our ability to handle stress and difficult emotions. With the right kind of nourishment from food, our ability to cope is multiplied.
I recommend a diet based on whole, unrefined foods - with as high nutrient density as possible.
For most people that will mean as many different kinds of fruits and vegetables as possible, whole grains, grass-fed organic and/or wild meat (including super-foods like liver, offal and bone broth), wild caught fish and plenty of high quality fats (pastured non-homogenized butter, cold-pressed seed oils, coconut oil and fat fish/meat). And, for those of you in the Northern hemisphere - make sure to get some supplementary Vitamin D3!
I also recommend avoiding stimulants like refined sugars, caffeine and alcohol - since they likely will create more stress in an already stressed system.
The same foods will also help boost your immune system - and your hormonal health (which is closely linked both to immune health and psycho-emotional health).
Also - eat what makes you feel good! Allow food to be a pleasure! Finding comfort in food is not a bad thing - if what we find comfort in is also nourishing for our bodies.
Spend time in nature
When our contact with other humans are restricted - finding comfort in the natural world can be a very good substitute. Make a visit to your nearby forest, park, garden, waterside or other area where you can meet trees, plants, water and/or animals.
Find nourishment in the breeze of the fresh wind, the sunlight, the rain, other life forms, soil, water and rocks. Research show that time spent in nature helps us release the neurochemicals serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine - the same kind of neurochemicals that are stimulated by loving interactions with other humans.
Practice a creative hobby
A period of isolation can actually be a great opportunity to pick up on a creative interest that you usually do not have time for - whether it be writing, drawing, painting, knitting, sewing or carpeting. Ask yourself "What is it that I have been longing to do, which I have been struggling to find time for?".
Engaging in a creative activity will help you connect to your body, center in yourself and find psycho-emotional nourishment.
Limit your consumption of social media and other media channels
In periods of social change and crisis, it can feel like we need to check our cellphone for updates every second minute to "keep on top of the situation". However, in reality, we will likely get all the important information even if we limit our media check-in to once or twice a day.
In fact, constant consumption of media outlets will just create more stress in us, and keep us distracted from the activities that will nourish and help us cope. Those nourishing activities that are, in fact, what will truly help us keep "on top of" the situation.
Instead of consuming the stream of information on social and other media outlets, consume what you consciously choose based on your area of interests. What makes you tick, and what fuels your inspiration? Dive into books, audio books, podcasts and movies that inspire you.
We have gotten quite accustomed to texting instead of actually calling those close to us. This is an optimal opportunity to turn that trend, and start connecting in real voice conversations. Maybe even arrange for a cup of tea over Skype?
Another great alternative to texting is voice messages - that will also help us feel more truly connected to the person we are communicating with, but do not require that we are both available at the same time.
In periods of life, we can be lacking people close to us to whom we can pick up the phone and give a call.
In these periods, journaling can be a great substitute. It is also a great complement to conversations with other people. It do not have to be fancy, and you do not have to be a good writer to journal - simply sit down with a blank paper or computer document, and let your stream of thoughts become words. In this way, you can have a conversation with yourself, reflecting on your thoughts and emotions in a similar way that conversations with other people can give you.
Engage in practices that create oxytocin
Oxytocin is the famous love hormone - stimulated by touch and intimacy. But did you know that you actually do not need another person to produce oxytocin? Activities like soft tender yoga, self massage/touch, meditation, dancing, cuddling with an animal, and spending time in nature (like mentioned before) also help us produce oxytocin!
In other words: we do not need touch from another to feel good - gentle self nourishment can give us the same effect.
We live in a society where the norm is to be constantly over-taxed. Can we let this period of imposed stillness become the period of rest, that we likely have been craving? Can we allow ourselves to drop everything (or as much as we're able to) and simply rest?
Times of rest, sabbath and seclusion has been important part of almost every traditional society - but has been lost in the modern age. Perhaps, this can be seen as an invitation to step into a period of deep rest and rejuvenation - an invitation to rediscover the benefits of stillness.
Especially if we are living alone, and especially if we are in complete quarantine, we are faced with the necessity of asking for help.
We have become accustomed to a society where everyone minds there own business, and where we are perfectly self-sufficient and do not need each-other for our day-to-day life to function. In the present situation, that model is suddenly not functioning for a lot of us. We are faced with the need to ask for help - and we are called to reaching out and offering a hand to those who need it.
There are few things that nourish us so deeply, and on such a basic level, as a growing sense of community. For many women I speak to (including myself and most of my closest friends), that lack of community is a core wound, creating constant distress. Can we see this situation as a possibility to start healing that wound? To reach out, and ask for help? And to offer help where we see it's needed - knowing that it will nourish us as deeply as it does to the one we are giving to.
In many local neighborhoods and cities, Facebook groups are popping up with the purpose of creating a support network for receiving and offering help in the current situation. Join one of them - or create one yourself - and invite your friends and neighbors. And, dare reaching out for help - it's OK to do so, and you are worthy of it.
In times of crisis, we are faced with two possibilities: to shut down, or to grow. What if the current situation can help us grow and become more resilient, both on a personal and collective level? What if it can bring us closer together, instead of further apart? Closer, both to ourselves and each other.
Peoples of all cultures have used isolation and retreat as rites for growth and development. Can we step into this with the same intention? Can we dedicate this period to the growing of something good? I believe we can. I believe both we and our society are ready for that.
And if you feel that you need support in this process, feel free to contact me. I will be happy to be there in whatever way I can.
Sending you all thoughts of strength, health, encouragement and support.