Watching the news, addictively scrolling through social media posts and talking to friends and family can easily lure our minds away from a state of conscious acceptance to an unconscious state of perpetual fear. However, to remain in a state of fear is a reactive, defensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us have personally lost loved ones and, because of physical distancing, must endure the pain of not being able to attend the funerals. Although we are faced with a tremendous amount of uncertainty of when the virus will peak and what our new "normal" will be, we can choose to engage in an offensive strategy by taking action to positively affect the factors that we can control. I would like to specifically focus on self-care strategies for processing loss (grief) and change.
Honor the body by eating even a little bit of healthy food to gradually increase appetite. Stress depletes our bodies. We have to make important decisions during a traumatic event and nutrition helps us stay clear headed so that we can make sound decisions.
Drink mint or ginger tea to help with digestion and appetite.
Essential oils of orange, rose, rosemary and marjoram help with grieving and trauma recovery. Eat at least a piece of fruit and some soup or salad daily. If you have no appetite, drink some ginger tea or chai.
Make a green smoothie and sip on it throughout the day if you are not feeling hungry (a simple recipe is spinach, water, hemp seeds and mango).
If unable to leave home, ask loved ones/supporters to bring fruits, vegetables, soups and limit the sugary comfort foods. Refined sugar bogs down our immune system and increases depression.
At first, loss may be very difficult to digest on an emotional level which often affects physical digestion.
Enzymes and probiotics are the key to radiant health.
Chew food slowly and thoroughly. Take a probiotic enzyme every morning and evening on an empty stomach (Garden of Life makes a series of clean probiotics)
Take digestive enzymes with your largest meal (Digest is a good basic digestive enzyme).
To truly get and stay hydrated we need: water + EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) + electrolytes. All are vitally important during times of intense physical and emotional stress, because these substances are the first to get depleted and usually the last to get replenished.
Have distilled water available at all times to ensure to keep from dehydrating, particularly during a long crying episode.
Add a pinch of high quality sea salt (Celtic or Himalayan Pink Salt) to distilled water at least once a day to replenish digestible trace minerals (not enough to taste the salt in the water but the body will get the needed electrolytes/minerals).
Coconut water is an excellent way to rehydrate our bodies. Drink one serving a day for the first few weeks following a traumatic event.
Put at least one tablespoon of flaxseed oil on salads, in smoothies or other foods daily.
Elimination is also the metaphor for letting go of toxic thoughts and feelings. Letting go is an important transition in the transformation cycle.
If elimination has slowed or become difficult, drink a cup of warm water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Add a pinch of sea salt if bowels are sluggish.
Have a warm amaranth, millet, quinoa or oatmeal cereal for breakfast and add a tablespoon of ground flax seeds.
Let emotions rise up and allow them to release. There is no specific time frame for how long our process needs to be for healing from stress, trauma or loss. Listen to your body and allow it to process all that you are feeling for as long as it takes.
Exercise (yoga, qigong are ideal)
Take a brief walk outside daily (preferably at a park or near water) if weather permits. Spending time in nature helps the body/mind/emotions recover from trauma. Now is the time to ask for help. Family members and friends can continually remind us to move and exercise with us because we may not feel like doing anything. Just one minute devoted to any of these practices each day will help our bodies recover from the effects of stress and trauma. Allow tears to flow at any time (stay hydrated during times of healing tears). Try the shaking exercise (listed below) for 40 days following a traumatic event. If our limbs periodically shake involuntarily at other times this is a healthy sign that our bodies are also releasing suppressed deep traumas and that we are healing naturally.
Practice gentle, relaxed deep abdominal breathing as often as possible. This is especially important when emotions well up and we are or have been crying very hard. When we inhale, we expand our lower abdomen out like a buddha belly. When we exhale, pull our navel inward towards our spine. Practice for 30-60 seconds.
Beginning with our ankles and working up to our head, rotate each joint 10 times clockwise and counterclockwise.
Go for short walks outside in nature (just around the block is fine).
Lie on the back with the feet/hands up in the air at a 90 degree angle. Shake arms and legs vigorously for one minute or more. This exercise releases anger, frustration, and trauma and stimulates your circulatory and immune systems. Begin by shaking one arm or leg at a time if this exercise is too challenging.
We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. - Kenji Miyazawa