We have never faced a more challenging holiday season. The usual stressors of the holidays are compounded this year by the ravages of COVID-19, political dividedness, social isolation, loss of loved ones, economic uncertainty, and sustained levels of anxiety, depression, and trauma.
Now is the time to gather the resources you need to remain safe, sane, and steady. Now is the time to care for yourself, as never before. Now is the time to take your own needs seriously and to step up your own self care. Now is the time to get clear about what is most important in your life. Now is the time to more deliberately shape the life you want for yourself, even as you persist through this difficult time.
This is the first part of a series to provide encouragement, insight, and suggestions for moving through the challenges of this season and in to the next year.
You are well acquainted with the CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We are urged to “exercise personal responsibility to protect public health”.
- Practice social distancing
- Wear a cloth coverings when outside your own home or yard; when entering or moving within a public indoor space; while using or waiting to use public or non-personal transportations services
- Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue; discard tissue in the trash, or use your inner elbow or sleeve
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when sick.
- Clean high touch surfaces in your home including cell phones
- Have a plan in case you are exposed to someone who is sick; self isolate and self-quarantine.
However, the following information is as important, if not more important, than the CDC guidelines.
Taking care of our physical well-being is foundational and essential.
Strengthen your immune system by reducing inflammation.
Inflammation heightens your vulnerability and risk to infection and disease.
Here are five guidelines to reduce inflammation and boost your healthy immune response.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods. These include fruits, vegetables, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (cold water fish, walnuts, flax seeds and soybeans). Other foods may include grapes, celery, blueberries, garlic, olive oil, tea, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric.
- Limit simple carbohydrates. This includes white flour, white rice, refined sugar, or anything with high fructose corn syrup.
- Create meals using lean proteins and whole foods high in fiber. Vegetables, yes.
- Keep moving. Spend less time in front of the screen. Walk, dance, stretch, play.
- Manage stress. Spend less time in front of the screen. Meditate, pray, laugh, sing.
Here are two more strategies that I have discovered and have been practicing twice a day for the last year.
- The Power of Cold. Wim Hof (The Ice Man) suggest you need to do this only once a day. Being an overachiever, I take two ice cold showers a day for 2 1/2 minutes – one in the morning when I first wake up, and one in the evening, before I go to bed. The first time I stepped into an ice cold shower, I could only tolerate 6 seconds. It was brutal! With persistence and consistency, I was able to increase my tolerance and resilience in the cold. Some days I do the cold shower for up to 6 minutes.
Check this out for more information. “What if You Stopped Thinking All the Time?” It really is fascinating.
2. The Power of Breathe. I also do the following breathing exercise twice a day, after the cold shower. This has helped to strengthen my lungs and my immune system. Here is the beginner’s app. I encourage you to try it.
Your self-care is paramount.
Take good care of yourself. Establish a strong physical foundation. Be kind to yourself. Appreciate the power of your choices. Invest your energy wisely. Stay safe.
Next in the series – Building Emotional Resilience