I would like to offer you some thoughts and ideas about 3 powerful ways to be healthy during coronavirus.
I have been thinking a lot about this, experimented, and researched various practices that promote health.
As in the past, I had cancer, overcame alcoholism, struggled with depression and anxiety, I do my best to stay on track and take good care of myself. This topic is dear to my heart. I am aware that the current circumstances may create long term emotional issues. Now more than ever, people are experiencing an unprecedented time of uncertainty and stress. Their social interactions are affected, and some of their livelihood may be lost. That is why we must look at ways to be healthy (physically, mentally, and emotionally) during coronavirus.
You may be very challenged, too, at this moment. Perhaps you believe that it is not easy (or even possible!) to be healthy during coronavirus.
There is conflicting information on several topics. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, confused and disempowered. People argue on social media and grow suspicious of one another.
The current narrative is increasing people’s fear and, therefore – as many doctors say-, is lowering their immune system.
You may have lost some of your income. Suddenly your kids were at home, and you are homeschooling them. Perhaps you live in a foreign country and worry about your relatives as you don’t know when you will see them again. You may experience anxiety about what the future will bring. If you live like me in a country that has been on lockdown, you probably spent at home a couple of months. I understand how it feels.
So amid all this chaos, change, and uncertainty, you may wonder of how to be healthy and sane during coronavirus. I have been wondering that too.
We heard the expression ‘we are all on the same boat,’ but we also know this is not true. Our personal, financial, and social circumstances vary a lot. If you, like me, still have a roof on your head, some partial income, food on your table, you belong for now to the privileged part of the population. I don’t say this to trigger a sense of guilt, shame, or blame, but to raise our sense of empowerment, choice, and responsibility. And if you and I are healthy, we can support those who are more in need.
So, here are some of my thoughts about that. I warn you that I am not going to tell you what to do, but I am here to offer some topics that you can explore. There is no prescription or fixed recipe here, but simple ideas and guidelines. I invite you to look inside, listen, slow down, and find out what could benefit you the most.
1. Find YOUR way to move your body.
No recipe fits all. But I think that it is crucial to find ways to engage and move your body.
Whether that for you, it means to ride your bicycle, work in your garden, go for a run, put on some music and dance, jump on a rebounder, walk your dog, practice yoga, this is my message for you: MOVE YOUR BODY! If you can do it outside, breath fresh air and get some sun is even better.
I am not going to include here in detail the neuroscience that supports this idea.
However, I am going to share a few exciting concepts. As you may know, in the industrialized countries, we spend a lot of time overthinking and overanalyzing. Consequently, therapy took historically mostly a cognitive approach. However, we need to rebalance and recalibrate that by reconnecting to our bodies and discharge the excessive energy that we carry in our minds. We evolved collectively by locating intelligence in our heads and brains. But there is a broader intelligence that lives in our bodies.
There is no way that we are going to release stress by merely thinking about it. Our bodies carry memory in their tissues. For example, if you grew up in an environment where you needed to suppress tears to be safe, loved, or accepted, very likely that memory and repetitive habit of contraction live in your muscles.
Here there is some good news: any action that you chose, consciously, can create a new habit so you can learn how to be healthy during coronavirus.
Life is movement. Everything moves included the trillion cells in your body.
We evolved by moving freely outside in nature, developing coordination, strength, and agility. Animals in nature discharge excessive amounts of energy and adrenaline and return to balance by running, moving, and shaking.
Life without movement is stagnant.
There is a living intelligence in our cells, skeleton, organs, and our life-force, and health can be impoverished if we sit on a sofa all day.
Movement is a metaphor for change, flow, evolution, and life force.
When we engage our body in a way that is not mechanical, and we are mindful, we can give full attention to what we are doing. In this way, we are creating a simple healthy habit, a new way of being present, focused.
Exercise and movement stimulate the frontal lobes and our cortex, which in response, reduce fear and stress response.
Did I mention that all this is also going to produce some feel-good hormones and that this can be a lot of fun?
Here you can find a list of dancing classes that you can join online.
2. Create YOUR network of support.
You don’t have to do it alone. Now, more than ever, it is vital to lean on support.
I invite you to explore what resonates with you. This could be an excellent time to start working with a therapist or a coach. If money is an issue, there are plenty of affordable options.
Maybe you can join a mastermind group, a course online, a membership platform, or ask some peers and friends to hold you accountable.
Ask them if you can call them when you struggle, feel alone or isolated, and offer them the same. Sometimes it is challenging to receive, but you can also provide your presence and friendship as a sign of reciprocity.
Also, in this case, I want to emphasize that there is no rule here. What works for me may not work for you. This is an opportunity to get to know yourself in-depth, to listen, and to tune in with your wants and needs. This kind of self-care is not negotiable.
I urge you to think about this and make it an essential part of your strategy to be healthy during the coronavirus.
We are mammals, and we need each other to thrive, to blossom, and to regulate at a very intuitive and primal level. We are wired for connection, and our nervous system evolved in this way. You can check the incredible research by Stephen Porges. He studied how the vagus nerve balances the parasympathetic nervous system (that controls the ‘rest and digest response’) through relationships and social engagement.
Whether you decide to explore these aspects with a therapist, a coach, a peer, or a friend, something is compelling about being witnessed, supported, and validated by another human being. Indeed, it is very healing to be mirrored by kindred spirits when we are learning new things and updating our self-image.
Furthermore, it is quite fun to ask these people what they think about our strengths, gifts, and skills. This is a way to learn to loosen up our inner criticism, to acknowledge and celebrate ourselves.
Studies suggest that we are much more likely to do something when we agree about it with somebody else and decide to be accountable to them.
I talk to peers, friends, mentors, coaches, colleagues regularly. It is powerful to share a space with like-minded people and listen to each other without judgment. I am also talking to my therapist twice a month, as I felt I needed some extra support. I am enjoying deeply Inner Family System as a modality because I find it very gentle and subtle. It reminds me of the importance of not pushing myself.
Many of us grew up feeling not validated, seen, or supported.
Therefore, the act of consciously reaching out for support and asking for help is a way to create new narratives, life-affirming experiences, and feel more resourced and resilient. This also can expand your circle of health.
‘There is no such thing as a self-made man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.’ (George Matthew Adams).
Last but not least, I am aware of the challenges of doing this online until we can meet in person again. We will need to balance the time in front of the screen and make sure that we have plenty of rest. It is also vital that we make an effort to connect and to stay open when the sense of isolation could push us towards greater loneliness.
3. Find your way to nurture your sense of connection.
Social distancing, excessive times spent on social media, living alone may aggravate the sense of isolation, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. Therefore, I invite you to find your way to nurture your sense of connection.
You may have understood by now that I am not offering you a fixed formula. Yet, you can master your process and learn what to be healthy means to you.
I ask you to inquiry about what connection means to you. I invite you to reflect upon how do you relate to the bigger picture. You can contemplate your relationship with that which is more significant than you and me.
It doesn’t matter if you call it God, Goddess, Source, Universe, Great Mystery, Infinity, Oneness, Unity, Spirit.
In the cartesian, dualistic and mechanistic worldview we inherited, many parts of the whole are split and divided.
According to this narrative, the mind is separated from body and heart, body from soul, body from nature, body from Divine, life from death, human beings from nature, human beings from source, human beings from human beings, etc.
In the book, Radical Remission, Surviving Cancer Against All Odds, Kelly A. Turner, Ph.D., a researcher, author, and lecturer in integrative oncology, shares her research. She wanted to know why people had overcome cancer and talked to over 1000 survivors. She identified the nine most common factors that contributed to their recovery. One factor is embracing a spiritual connection.
There are many different ways to look at ‘connection.’
I invite you to use your imagination to see what this means to you and how it can help you stay healthy during coronavirus.
We are relational beings. We are relationships.
If we choose so, if we decide to give attention to it, we can experience more fully the relationship with ourselves and ultimately with all life.
Charles Eisenstein says that ‘the true self is a connected self’ from a metaphysical, philosophical, and biological point of view (i.e., including the trillion cells in our bodies, the genetic information inherited from our ancestors and the bacteria living in our organism).
We can also think about the connection between organs in our bodies and how they communicate, between systems and how they affect each other or solely at the body-mind relationship and the impact that it has on our overall health, well-being, and immune system.
Furthermore, the Heart Math Institute is also researching ‘the interconnectivity between human consciousness and Earth’s energetic systems as well as between people and other living systems, such as animals and trees.’
What if this forced alone time that is creating multiple paradoxes, becomes an opportunity to rediscover and remember the relation, with one’s true nature, with each other and with that which is greater than us?
Here are some questions for you:
- What do you need to do, to include connection as a way to stay healthy during coronavirus and this time of uncertainty?
- What is your connection with the natural world?
- When you feel fully connected to yourself, to your community and the web of life, what do you do differently?
- If you were to chose some simple actions every day to nourish the connections that matter the most to you, what would you do?
- What is your relationship with your imagination?
In my experience, spending time in nature, dancing, singing, meditating, praying are ways to nurture my sense of spiritual connection. I danced my socks off when I had cancer. I am curious to know what came out for you.
Probably you are also aware that this time of crisis brought light to the importance of looking at unresolved issues with people or family members, the power of forgiveness, and kind words. It is time to do that phone call or write that letter and let them know you love them. I invite you to consider this and make it part of your strategy to stay healthy during coronavirus.
So, my dear friend…I hope you enjoyed this article and the resources I shared in the links.
I know that reality is complex and is not a set of black and white elements. What I offered you is not complete, nor it was meant to be. But I truly wanted to provide you with some thoughts and ideas.
This is obviously not meant to replace any medical advice. Still, it is an invitation to take charge of your health, feel empowered, and have a conversation around those aspects of your daily life that you can control.
…TO BE CONTINUED…
Feel free to get in touch and let me know what you think.