Day 14 of my self-imposed physical distancing. It's a beautiful, sunny day, and I'm sitting inside. I'll go for a walk later, but I'm in the middle of baking sourdough bread, and it needs tending shortly. I've baked a lot of bread these past couple of weeks. And knit — two pairs of socks, several preemie sized hats and booties (to be donated at some point). And it got so bad I even macraméd a couple of plant hangers. Yes, macramé. I'm sure my flower-child mother is very proud. 😀
I've been trying to stay socially connected. My friend Jane Clapp (follow Jane on Instagram for more information) is hosting weekly Covid-19 Co-regulation Support Sessions on Zoom where hundreds of people get together and dance, sing, move, and learn more about nervous system regulation. And I'm not living alone — I have two of my kids, my lovely husband, and our fish, all living together under one roof, so I get hugs everyday, and am able to have conversations with different people. With warmer weather, I'm chatting with neighbours, over the fence, from a good distance. I can Zoom, Skype, Facebook video message friends and family to stay connected. Stephen Porges (author of Polyvagal Theory) talks about the importance of social connection during a time of physical distancing in this short video.
My son and I started auditing a free course offered by Yale University: The Science of Well-Being. I've already found this to be incredibly useful and interesting. It's more than just learning about how to be happier, but the homework is doing the things that make you happier, creating habits that encourage support of well-being.
Something I've noticed in my body is my tendency to freeze. When I feel stress, instead of responding with fight or flight, I freeze. I don't know if any of you have experience this, but this is a normal response to fear and stress. However, it's not a helpful response. Our bodies need to complete the cycle of the sympathetic nervous system by MOVING! We need to burn off the adrenaline that has been released, we need to use the extra sugar the liver is releasing, we need to use the extra oxygen we are breathing and create more carbon dioxide to meet the breathing rate that we shift to. Going for a run when we are feeling that heart rate increase can be exactly the right thing to do. It's been very strange for me not to have my studio space available to move in (as we are still in the process of trying to sell the house, and the house has been staged). I hope that you are able to move in lots of different ways to support your body's needs to move, and that you are able to practice yoga during this time as well.
Sometimes we just need to get up and move, and a kitchen dance party can be just the thing. I created a Covid-19 Dance Party playlist on Spotify. Dance with your family, dance with yourself, dance with your friends on Skype, dance with your dog. Feel the joy in your body from moving.
Laughter can also be incredibly liberating when we are feeling overwhelmed. Being present in our bodies in wonderful ways can connect us to the present moment, and laughing can loosen up your diaphragm and torso when you might be feeling armoured against a threat. Even just smiling can relax your muscles and send a signal to your brain to soften and let go a little. Find ways to laugh every day, even in, especially in difficult times. I saw this today on Bored Panda (click the link for more hilarious kid sayings) and it made me laugh.
I'm also doing a lot of nose-breathing. Besides physical distancing, and hand-washing, breathing through my nose is my best defence against getting sick. The nose is built to fight off intruders. If learning about how this works is helpful for you in times like this, here's an article that explains it (the research is also available – find the link at the beginning of the article). If you want to work on your breathing techniques, I'm available by Zoom to teach Buteyko. The people that I have been working with during this time have found gentle Buteyko breathing techniques to be incredibly helpful for both body and mind. Jane and I will also be doing our webinar series Traumatic Stress and the Breath again in May. This four-part series that you can attend live or receive recordings of the next day is accessible, informative, mind-blowing for people who want to dig a little deeper into this area. Please register if you are interested. We will not be selling the recordings after the fact.
For those people who find it helpful, I've posted a recording of myself guiding you through a Yoga Nidra (literally, yogic sleep; a guided meditation usually done in savasana). For people who have a higher level of anxiety when you are not moving, or who become anxious in quiet, this practice might not be for you at this time. Also, feel free to modify this, perhaps touching each part of your body during the rotation of consciousness instead of just taking your attention to each part of your body. I'm not sure when we'll be able to gather again for this beautiful practice, so I hope that this is helpful for some of you.
These are very strange, unfamiliar, and scary times that we are living through. My wish for you is that you will be safe, healthy, connected to caring community, and will be able to manage emotionally and financially during this difficult time.
Tremendous thank-yous to everyone who is on the front lines — all medical staff, hospital and emergency workers, as well as everyone who is keeping our basic necessities for living going (heat, hydro, internet, groceries). Stay safe!
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