Whether you feel the people around you are over- or under-reacting to the current state of the world, one thing’s for sure - these are unprecedented times. And whether you’re going stir-crazy in isolation or loving the extra free time, your body is certainly experiencing stress. When our daily lives are disrupted out of the blue with no clear end in sight, our limbic systems go haywire. Our brains don’t like uncharted territory! Creating new neural pathways to process a brand new, threatening situation spells stressful times for our poor minds. So, now more than ever, it’s time to nurture, pamper, and care for ourselves! These next few paragraphs will jump into various ways we can care for our Bodies, Minds, and Spirits in these crazy Covid times.
Take Control Of Your Mind
I’m no neuroscientist, but I do know this: our brains work by sending signals through neural pathways. We can think of them as roads, and our thoughts as cars driving down the road. When we’re accustomed to something, our cars are driving down familiar roads - like how you feel driving around your hometown. Easy, peaceful, familiar. But when we have to go somewhere new - when we’re experiencing an event or interaction we haven’t before - our brain has to pave a brand new road to drive down. And the state of that road is going to be a product of how the brain is feeling during construction. Imagine a bunch of panicky, stressed out construction workers trying to pave a new road as fast as possible. It’s certain to turn out bumpy, uneven, and full of cracks. Heck, it might not even go the right way! That’s what happens when we form neural pathways in stress or trauma; we form damaging stress responses to that situation. Think: bad coping habits, angry outbursts, shutting down. When our little internal pavers are calm and centered, they pave peaceful, even roads that we can feel calm driving down. Cue: meditation.
Cultivating a regular meditation/mindfulness practice is basically sending your brain a self-care package. Mindfulness works to quiet anxious thoughts of what may happen in the future or what may have happened in the past, and focus in on the inherent peace and certainty of the present moment. And no, you don’t have to be able to sit in perfect stillness to meditate! Download the free Insight Timer app and listen to a guided meditation. Tune into the breath; following deep inhales and exhales, or breathing along with the GIF below. Give your senses the spotlight, turning attention to the things you hear, feel, see, smell, taste in the present moment. Practice non-attachment by resisting the urge to judge or explain these things. Let them simply come into existence and fade away.
Most importantly, remember to treat yourself with love and compassion! When we stress & have anxiety; when we have a hard time focusing on meditation; when we turn to unhealthy coping habits; it’s easy to berate and criticize ourselves. But this only stresses out your brain’s pavers! Practice speaking to yourself like you would a small, scared child. You’re learning. Everything you’re feeling is completely justifiable and fair, and you are doing the best you can! Your inner child likes to be told “it’s okay, sweetheart.” It may feel strange, but try whispering this to yourself when you feel worried or stressed or mad at yourself. It really is all going to be okay.
Being locked up in the house may lead to lots of laziness. Not only is movement crucial for our physical health, but it helps destress the mind as well! The best part is, there are more options for getting moving now than ever before. Don’t have a home gym? No problem. Grab cans of peas or gallon jugs for your weighted workouts. Missing your yoga studio? The internet is an absolute miracle for continuing or beginning a yoga practice! You can follow along with all kinds of videos on youtube, get inspiration for your own personal flow from videos like mine below, or even join live classes with a loving and supportive community like this one. Need a change of scenery? Go for a walk or jog around your neighborhood. Depending on where you live, you may even be able to drive to public parks to get outside. There’s no better medicine than a big dose of sunlight and fresh air - just remember to keep your distance from others!
Whatever you do, make your movement mindful. Tune in to what you’re feeling in your body with each step, each rep, each pose. Feel your muscles stretching and flexing. Feel your breath expanding in your chest. Notice every emotion as it bubbles up in your heart or in your belly. Whatever you feel, just let it move!
psst... click here to see my poses in the video above written out!
Be Your Own Preventative Doctor
There’s no question that Western medicine is a miracle worker in times like these. But for those of us who are asymptomatic, there’s not much that our doctors can do for us. A key difference between Western and Eastern medicinal practices is prevention. Whereas we in the West tend to be treated for illness or disease once we’ve already got ‘em, in practices like Chinese traditional medicine, they treat healthy people to avoid getting sick in the first place. Now may not be the ideal time to go see an acupuncturist, but here’s some good news: there’s so much you can do for yourself at home to strengthen your body. Because we know that Covid-19 attacks the lungs, I’ll highlight some Eastern practices and philosophies that help to strengthen and protect these vital organs.
We already talked about deep breathing. Not only do strong, slow breaths calm the mind, they literally strengthen the lungs themselves. When our minds are stressed out, we tend to respond with fast, shallow breathing. Instead, as often as you can think of it, draw deep inhales all the way into the belly and exhale strongly, like you’re blowing out a candle. It helps!
In acupuncture, there are different channels and points throughout the body that correlate with our various organs. Luckily, you don’t have to stick yourself with needles to stimulate these points at home! You can do a lung-strengthening self-acupressure massage by pressing and holding the below pictured points with your fingers. Massaging the areas around the shoulders, traps, and collarbones also gets energy moving along the lung pathways - rub these areas first, then continue massaging down the arms toward the fingertips to help clear out and revitalize the lung channels. And if you want to take your self-massage to the next level, try using our CBD and aromatherapy infused massage oil while you do it!
Another major contributor to our immunity and lung health is diet. Foods like dairy, eggs, bread, and sugar build up what’s known in Chinese medicine as “dampness” in the body (think: phlegm). Too much damp can make you sick. You can help keep your body and airways healthy by avoiding these kinds of foods and turning instead to things like cooked veggies, almonds, apples, and fresh foods seasoned with onions, garlic, and strong spices. These tasty treats help avoid damp energy while tonifying and strengthening the lungs - and not to mention, they’re just straight-up good for you!
Balance Your Body Inside And Out With CBD
Have you ever heard of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)? Did you know it’s functioning in your body right now, just like your nervous or endocrine systems, and is shared by every mammal in the world? The ECS plays a crucial role in helping our body maintain homeostasis, or balance; and despite its closely related name, it functions completely independently from the cannabis plant (more on that later)!
So how exactly does the ECS work? Our bodies create ECS-specific neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids, which are responsible for sending messages and creating responses. The ECS has receptors located throughout the nervous and immune systems, and together these transmitters and receptors serve various functions, from immune responses to creating a “runner’s high” during exercise. Things like stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise can throw this essential system out of whack and lead to a body out of balance. All of the practices mentioned in this article will help soothe and balance a stressed out ECS!
Interestingly, another way to help balance the ECS is the use of certain plants. Many plants contain their own cannabinoids, called phytocannabinoids, which mimic our own. (Endo = within the body, phyto = of a plant.) So, ingesting or applying phytocannabinoids to the body actually activates the body’s endocannabinoid receptors.
One of the most beneficial plant-based cannabinoids is CBD. (THC is another phytocannabinoid. Fun fact: the ECS has “canna” in the name because it was discovered when scientists were studying THC’s effect on the body!) Whereas compounds like THC primarily stimulate the body’s ECS receptors, CBD is a modulator. In times of great stress, CBD can help de-stimulate parts of your system in order to cool down and return to balance.
Many people find that taking full-spectrum CBD orally helps to calm anxiety, relieve insomnia, and even brighten moods. Applied topically, full-spectrum CBD is being researched for its ability to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and nourish the skin. This magic molecule from Mother Nature can help your Body, Mind & Spirit in more ways than one. And a balanced ECS means a stronger, better equipped immune system! Try it out in our all-natural, hand-made, sustainably-sourced products available here.
Get In Touch With Gratitude
Perhaps one of the simplest and most grounding practices we can all use right now is gratitude. I know you might be thinking, “how can I be grateful with all this stress, grief, and fear going on all around me?” But it’s in hard times that gratitude takes on its most powerful form. You might find it in the simplest of things: a roof over your head, a good book, a tasty meal, a bath. Connection with loved ones, whether at home or over the internet. The budding trees and blooming flowers of Springtime. Your favorite scent - mine’s fresh laundry blowing through the vents on a rainy day. Try writing, thinking of, or stating out loud a list of things that you’re grateful for, big or small, every day as a habit. Maybe start with three. Work your way up to ten. Soon enough, your mind will start to rewire, filling in the cracks and smoothing out the bumps in those hastily paved roads. In time, gratitude will come as naturally as breathing.
There are so many ways to help yourself form healthy habits in both brain and body during these unusual circumstances. Don’t let this list overwhelm you! These are all just gentle suggestions for ways you can begin to ease yourself from stress and worry to peace and calm. The state of your mind directly impacts the health of your body; so please, remember to treat yourself with sweetness and love. You deserve gentleness now more than ever, and it’s up to you to extend yourself that compassion! If these ideas are all new to you, pick just one that seems exciting, or easy enough to try out. Give it a try. See if you like it. Pay attention to things like: how does my body feel when I do this? And after it’s done? You don’t have to become a self-care machine, trying out new practices and principles non-stop. Being still and doing nothing is self-care, too! So take a deep breath, then let it go. And remember, everything is going to be okay.
With love and gratitude,