As the quarantine continues and I observe how people around me, including my own family respond to the restrictions, I am inspired to share with ECIM patients personal thoughts about using this time to their advantage. We could choose to make healthy changes for the betterment of our emotional/physical/mental states. We could use this enforced period as a springboard to a healthier way of living. Or we could continue to eat more carbs, sleep more, binge watch Netflix, fight over board-games (oops TMI)……
- Have an inspirational playlist to listen to every day. Some of my favorites:
- “Rise up “by Andra Day.
- “You Say” by Lauren Daigle.
- “Break the Shell “and “I am light” by India Arie.
- “Imagine” by John Lennon. “Let it Be” by the Beatles.
- Read every day or listen to books on tape. I am currently loving the below books or authors, but if something fictional or a little lighter such as a beach read will help relax your mind and make you feel good, go for it! It’s less about the content and more about taking time for ourselves to learn new things and focus our mind on something besides the current state of the outside world.
- Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”
- Any book by Brene Brown or Rachel Haller
- “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach.
- “The Uncharted Journey” and “Learning to Love” by Don Rosenthal.
- Post Inspirational quotes around your house as a reminder of who and what life is all about. Some of my favorites:
- “Don’t shrink, don’t puff up, stand your sacred ground.” Brene Brown.
- “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” Pema Chodron.
- “Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today” AA
- “Whenever you go to war with what is, you always lose.” Byron Katie.
- “The spiritual life is not a theory; we have to live it.” The Big Book.
- “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today, I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Rumi
- Every day. Yoga, stretch, dance, walk outside wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing or around the house just to move your body in a way that makes you feel good. If it does not feel good do not do it, but there may be some inertia one has to overcome to see if it will feel good. Try an activity for 5 minutes and stop if still not “feeling it.” Do not overdo it either-if you are doing too much and not enjoying it, this is the flip side of not doing a little something. If you go too far right of the target there is rigidity. Too far left and there is laxity. Hitting the target in the middle is probably about right.
- Eat well. Choose foods you enjoy if they make you feel good! Chew well, eat slow and savor what you are eating and drinking. Be mindful of what you are doing. What and how we eat, tells us how we feel about ourselves, remember the target. A good question to ask yourself if you think you are hungry is, “Would I eat broccoli? (if you don’t like broccoli substitute something else you like that is a fruit or vegetable). If the answer is no. You are not really hungry-you are just mouth hungry. Distract yourself with something, maybe exercise, crafting or reading or even try drinking a large glass of water. If the answer is yes-I would eat broccoli. Eat! You are hungry. Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.
- Sleep enough but not too much. Try for 8 hours (or more if you need) at night. Get up at the same time every day and go to bed around the same time. Keep a routine. Take a nap if you need between 2-4 pm for 30-90 minutes. Take melatonin if you have trouble sleeping right now. Anywhere from 1-20 mg 30 minutes pre bed. It must be dark for melatonin to work as a sleep aid. The ER spray works best for some people. Except for some “weird” dreams there are no real side effects to melatonin. For those who say they are sedated the next day, try a lower dose and this side effect goes away after a week or so of use.
- Be creative. Craft (make homemade masks?), do art, make music, color, do magic, learn to juggle, do card tricks, etc. whatever is of interest to you and you enjoy enough to “lose” yourself in and are not aware of time passing b/c you are so focused on what you are doing. This creative space is beyond “thought” getting us in touch with who we really are (outside of the public persona we don daily to be in the world). When we are our authentic selves, we are healing ourselves at a deep level including activating the parasympathetic nervous system which calms flight, fight or freeze.
- Have the intention to be kinder to yourself. If you are caught up in your mind with worry about the future or lamenting the past, you are not present. In this moment, unless it’ s a life and death situation, everything is OK. Worrying about the future is not useful, it is an illusion, it has not happened. Lamenting the past is also not useful- you cannot do anything about it. We could, however, learn from our past and do things differently going forward. If you are feeling bad about yourself-imagine a beloved child having the same experience. Would you be as harsh with them as you are to yourself? If not? It doesn’t hold true that you should treat yourself differently. Doesn’t everyone deserve love? We may not like certain behaviors, we may have to protect people from them, but deep down, don’t we all deserve some empathy?
What if we found some good in this experience to make it more positive? What if we got in better shape? Changed our eating habits? Developed reading lists and playlists that inspired us and made us feel better? What if by feeling better we could give back to the world more? This could be on a physical level of service or if human beings really are (as quantum physics says) just subatomic particles that vibrate, what if we vibrated at a higher level? Could that alone help ourselves and the planet? Leading scientists and spiritual leaders believe so. I know when I am around someone or something inspirational, I feel better. What if we deliberately choose to feel better? What is possible?
P.S. Playing monopoly in my house does not lead to feeling better!