A Recipe for Self-Nurturing in Times of Stress
“Everything is upside down right now. I don’t know what or who to believe or what is going to happen next,” my friend told me. She said she is overwhelmed with all the ‘what-ifs’ swirling around in her mind right now as we navigate the first global pandemic of this lifetime.
Aren’t we all? Coronavirus stress is consuming.
I suspect that my friend is saying what many of you are saying to yourself and to one another. What makes it incredibly complex is that we are having this experience while tending to families, friends and trying to get other aspects of life and work accomplished. As a psychotherapist for many years, what I can tell you is that neuroscience confirms that humans are not good multi-taskers by design so adding this layer of mental, emotional and physical difficulty tends to usher in a sense of personal chaos.
I encouraged her, as I do you, to slow down and spend time each morning, mid-day and evening providing yourself some self-nurturing. Positive psychology, neuroscience and mindfulness all tell us that spending only a few moments across the day can pay huge dividends for staying calm, emotionally healthy and meaningfully productive.
One of the most powerful things you can do requires nothing more a decision to apply a few basic routines. Here is a starter recipe:
Start of your day:
Begin your day by contemplating your intentions to stay calm, focused and grounded. Let yourself imagine what that looks and feels like. Give yourself a couple of affirmations such as ‘I am calm’ or ‘I am centered.’
Check in with yourself and identify your emotional state. If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable in any way, self-nurture. For example, take a moment to inhale and exhale several long breaths, hydrate, and re-center yourself. If able, walk outside to notice the sky, trees or birds then turn your face to the sun allowing yourself to connect to the natural world. Take a deep breath of fresh air, notice if there is breeze. If it is raining, closely watch the pattern it makes. Come back to your tasks refreshed.
At the end of the day, mentally review how you moved throughout the day, what was successful, what needed support. Talk to your friends and family about your day and theirs. Share positive and supportive feedback and ideas. Encourage each other.
As for your neighbors, workplace and community, consider bringing your nurturing and support where it is needed. You likely have co-workers who are under considerable strain, neighbors feeling very vulnerable and a community getting increasingly disconnected due to all the closures and quarantines.
This is the perfect time for you to call on your best self and offer this to any and all of these places in humankind. The key to doing so however is that you are already giving yourself the mental & emotional wellbeing ‘fuel’ that you need in order to be able to give.
– Written by Amber D. Chamberlain, M.ED, LPC, RCA Associate Treatment Advocate