Written by: Chloe Weber, L.Ac., MSOM, Co-Founder/CEO Radical Roots Herbs (CBD + Chinese herbs)
As a solo mama to a child with multiple disabilities—who also works for herself, by herself—I have spent that last 4 years preparing for this whole “social/physical distancing” thing. While it would be awesome if we all had all day to meditate and workout, read books and take bubble baths while sipping herbal teas, most of our lives are filled with children, obligations and stress (especially heightened right now). That’s why my motto is “something is better than nothing” every little tiny bit of self-care makes a big impact. Find the tips that work for you – but most of all, be easy with yourself. Social isolation is really challenging, particularly challenging while we are facing such a formidable virus that is inciting fear and panic worldwide. Below are some of the tips and tricks that I use to keep myself sane during isolation.
- Go to sleep! Number one thing for sanity and immune health is to go to sleep! I know the news is ever-changing and addictive, but turn it off. Make sure you are getting quality sleep by turning off screens an hour before bed and sleeping in a cool dark room. Try and go to bed around the same time. If you need support sleeping (like CBD or herbal supplements), do what you gotta do. Sleep is essential to health—physical and mental.)
- Visualization: your subconscious is working all night long, so instead of focusing on the negative aspects of our current situation, try to spend a few minutes visualizing something positive: a place you love, a vacation you are looking forward to, a roll of toilet paper?! Whatever. The more realistic the visualization the better.
- Gratitude. Things are hard right now and they are scary. But we are powerful individually and even more powerful collectively. Remember the things and people that you have to be grateful for. Give them a call. Gratitude can powerfully dissolve fear and sadness. Lots of people use gratitude journals and make a habit of writing down three things they are grateful for every day.
- Move. You have to move. Again. Something is better than nothing. Walk the dog. Swing a kettlebell for 5 minutes. Do this 3-minute workout that increases Nitric Oxide which some reports suggest may reduce the pathogenicity of COVID-19. We are all stuck inside but the emotional, physical and immunological boost that we get from exercise will help us be better prepared for these tough times.
- Meditate. I know I know, you don’t have time. Try 2 minutes. Research has shown that just 2 minutes of meditation daily can help your brain function optimally. I don’t meditate every day. I’m not great at it; but it makes a tremendous difference when I do and when times get tough I always do my best to make 10 minutes of meditation a daily habit. I love Dawson Church’s guided meditations and I also enjoy doing QiGong, a traditional Chinese movement practice that combines meditation and movement to support emotional and physical health. There are lots of QiGong practitioners but one you can check out is this 8 Brocades Qigong Practice.
- Eat right. Always. Just stop eating processed foods and sugar. Check out the diet section of this site to get ideas of how and what and why you should eat whole foods.
- Hydrate. Coffee and wine are not enough (I sure wish they were), but you need to stay hydrated for your body and brain to function properly. Aim to drink a cup of water every hour or so throughout the day. Again, I struggle with this one even though it’s super simple and free, but I’m working on it!
- Brain fun. Learn a new language. Listen to a new podcast. Read. Read more. What are the things you’ve always wanted to do, to see, to learn? Now is the time! Explore those parts of your brain and your heart that have been ignored while you focus on keeping things moving. I listen to podcasts as I cook every day; it’s an easy way to continue to learn while doing something else. The important thing is to keep learning and to try and use your brain in new ways.
- Call friends. Times like these are great to take a step back and look at the relationships in your life. Who is checking in on you? Who do you miss? Whose phone calls make you happy and who makes you stressed? As we go through our lives we all change and evolve, sometimes friendships no longer fit the way they once did and perhaps there are friends that you didn’t realize were as important as they are. Reach out, you are not the only one struggling, I promise.
- Tapping. Tapping is an incredible way to help deal with stress. It is a simple and profound way to shift your subconscious and calm your nervous system. I highly recommend that everyone learn the basics. (Never heard of this? Check it out here!)
- Revel in the forced slow down. This is scary and this is hard, but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be good things to come out of it. Our society is structured so that we constantly feel like we do not have enough that we are not doing enough. Slow down. Take a breath. This is your life, what do you want it to look like?
- Connect with online communities. We are so fortunate to have access to people all over the world at the tips of our fingers! Special needs families are already in on this secret—you don’t need to be in the same state (or country) to be good friends. Find people with similar interests, join online communities, connect with people you never would have met otherwise! My STXBP1 community (Remy’s disorder) are truly like a second family and I love every single one of them. There are no borders or boundaries or isolation with the internet!
- Turn your damn phone off. Or at least turn off notifications and set time limits on social media and what hours you can use the phone. If it’s 10:30 p.m., my phone is on airplane mode till 7:30 a.m. I set a 30-minute limit on my social media. I can “ignore” the limits… which definitely happens… but at least I am more aware of how much time I am spending on my phone and where I am putting my energy.
- Continue to work with your healthcare providers. As the saying goes, a good defense is the best offense! Now is the time to do what you can to help boost your immune system and feel your best. Vitamins, supplements and herbs have a long tradition of supporting your body and brain so that you can function optimally and many practitioners are available for telemedicine and herbal consults. Chinese herbal medicine has an incredible track record with epidemics and practitioners worldwide are working together to share research. CBD is another herbal product that may be beneficial. Cannabis has been shown not only to have anxiolytic properties and to help with sleep, but it also has an incredible immunomodulating mechanism that can help support your immune system during this wild ride.
- Don’t just look for helpers, be a helper. There is no better way to stop focusing on your own fear than to focus on helping others. Do what you can. If you can donate, donate, if you can order from a local restaurant and give a good tip, do it. You can offer to help neighbors or call a friend that you think may be having a hard time with this pandemic and check in. Even just staying home and behaving responsibly is something you should be proud of. Every little bit of kindness counts – so please remember we are in this together!
- Accept the journey. Some things are out of our control, in fact many things are out of our control. What is in our control is our response. We need to accept that this is happening, we need to accept that there are sacrifices that need to be made during this hardship. It’s also important to remember that there are many, many people who are likely in worse situations than you are, so please have compassion, please try and help. We can come out of this pandemic stronger, kinder, healthier and more connected—or we can let fear win. Accept the journey. Cry when you have to cry. Breakdown if you have to breakdown—but get back up.
- BE EASY ON YOURSELF. These are very extreme and scary circumstances. Many of us don’t have jobs, many of us are juggling work and caring for our children, worrying about our parents, our friends. It’s ok if you are not magically able to be all things at once for your children, it’s ok if you take some time for yourself or have an extra glass of wine. Please don’t be too hard on yourself. Tomorrow is another day and none of us are perfect. Something is better than nothing. You are doing great.
Hard times happen. Death and disease, heartbreak and struggle are all a part of life, but it’s also what can motivate and inspire us to be kinder and more compassionate humans. As a mother to a child with a rare and complicated disorder I have had to look closely at both mine and Remy’s mortality in a way that many never do. I have had to decide that while I could let my fear of the unknown, the unspeakable, absolutely terrify me into submission, I decide every day that I will get up, that I will show up for myself, for Remy and for as many other people as I can help. Every day.
Take a breath. Take another one. You have been through hard times and you will go through hard times again. That is okay. But make sure that you make a difference with the time, the energy, the love that you have. When we are on the other side of this pandemic, please remember that this time of isolation can be used to show us just how very interconnected and beautiful our communities are.