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  • Writer's pictureMary Streeter

Caring for Ourselves and Each Other

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

As we find ourselves in this challenging time, navigating COVID-19, we need to be sure to practice self care. While there are many things that are out of our control, there are still many things we can do !!

Try this10 minute guided meditation session to help ground and cultivate inner peace. Below you will find a list of ways to support your physical and mental wellbeing, created by my dear friend Brooke White, PhD:

Mindfulness. Already have a practice? Now is a great time to build on that. Haven’t tried it yet? Now is the PERFECT time. Consider introducing it to your children, partners, friends and family. The Insight Timer app is a great free resource with thousands of free guided meditations.

Exercise. It is so important when stressed to move our bodies. There are lots of free options online. Even Youtube is a great resource for at home workouts. Taking walks is a wonderful way to get out of one’s head, move and enjoy the outdoors all at once. Connect. We are isolated in a literal sense. But let’s be honest. We have been isolated as a species for all sorts of reasons for a long time. Now is a time to reconnect. We have the time, and fortunately technology has provided the far-reaching means. Write the letters you’ve been meaning to send. Check in on people you love, but have been too busy to connect with of late. For certain, check in on the elderly and vulnerable. They need us now. Breathe. Did you know we can activate the parasympathetic nervous system (the body’s relaxation response) with our breath? Optimal breathing for this activation is 6 breaths/min (inhale of 5, exhale of 5). This system works in opposition to the sympathetic nervous system, the body’s involuntary response to danger and stress.

Be. We have become an incredibly busy group of humans. Now we have no choice but to be. Re-learn how to slow down. Be with your family. Be with yourself. What might you discover? What might you create?

Limit. Limit your exposure to the news. Choose your preferred source or two and set a limit of 2-3 times per day to check in. This will allow you to stay informed at this time, which is essential. But it will prevent you from being inundated and overwhelmed. Reading is preferable. The way news is presented on TV is overstimulating, repetitive and alarmist. Many people benefit from a time limit to checking the news. It is natural to want to spend a lot of time with this content, especially when fear is at play. But it is not beneficial. Learn the tipping point for you between benefit and cost. Respect that.

Laugh. Humor is a wonderful means to cope (and connect!). It’s ok, and even important to find ways to laugh. There will be hard times ahead. Laugh where and when you can,

Play. Find ways to be playful with each other and with yourself. Board games, puzzles, whatever!! The possibilities are endless.

Be grateful. There is always much we can be thankful for. Even in the hardest times. What are you grateful for? Ask yourself. Ask each other. Again. And Again. And again.

Accept what you can’t change. This is a very hard one. It does not mean you like it or think it is “ok”. It means it is happening and it is out of your control to make different. When we resist what is out of our control our suffering increases. It is a practice. Perfection is irrelevant. Be patient with yourself. When times are difficult it is easy to become focused on ourselves. It is natural. But it turns out that focusing outward, towards others in need is helpful for our mental, social and emotional wellbeing!

Give. There will be endless needs, ranging from simple to complex. Find the place you can give. Maybe it’s a monetary donation. Maybe it’s an open ear. Maybe it’s your (socially distant) time. Find your place of offering. It will benefit the receiver and you both.

This will be a time of suffering. We know this. If we don’t know this, our coping style might be labeled one of denial. There is no person who is awake that won’t feel scared about what is happening and what is to come. But….there will also be many good things that come of this. We will learn to see each other again. We will shift our priorities. Many of these shifts will help our planet. They will help our minds. They will help our hearts. They will help each other. Be well you are not alone. ~Brooke White

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