Entering the sixth month of the COVID-19 pandemic sheltering-in-place, I have learned things which have helped me to fight the feeling of powerlessness which these extreme circumstances engender. Seeking to thrive under these conditions, has felt at times, like a bit of an overreach. But I have committed to reclaiming my power when impotency is just an impulsive option away.
This has been a frightening stretch which threatens to steal even an eternal optimists’ sense of hope. These times offer to deliver exhaustion, lack of focus and anxiety to one’s doorstep at no charge. I prefer an Amazon delivery.
These unprecedented days re-affirm the musings of Glinda, the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz: “You’ve always had the power my dear.”
Here are 5 learnings, habits, tools, or just a means of pulling the ripcord in this worldwide predicament. Each of the following has served to buoy and allow me to see just a glimpse into the harbor of normalcy.
1. EAT MORE YIN FOODS – The Yin-Yang theory is based in Chinese philosophy. It is a carefully thought out system to depict and simplify a life in balance. Yin foods are considered expansive, cool thermally, they make you light and happy. The Yin foods give you more bang for your nutrient buck. These include: leafy greens which insulate the body like bubble-wrap protects a package, grounding root vegetables and winter squash which root you in your day, whole grains, beans/legumes, raw fruits and other rainbow-colored veggies, seaweed, nuts and seeds. Sugary candy, soda and ice cream, along with alcohol are also considered Yin, but they tend to make one’s energy spacey and scattered. Consider them a treat. Now so many delicious plant-based, dairy-free and refined sugar-free alternatives exist which provide gentler more flexible energy. Some favorite finds are posted on my Instagram page @Wholefoodieronna
2. DOING THINGS DAILY THAT IGNITE JOY – Do things in ways that make you feel most alive. During this quarantine period, I’ve enjoyed going for long walks in the outdoors with favorite tunes pumped into my ears. When I return home, I pop my mask off, wash my hands and enjoy filling my ears with the deeply relaxing sound created by a tuning fork, also called a Chakra Tuning Energy Fork. I strike the tuning fork gently against a quartz crystal or tap the tuning fork with a small silicone hammer. The sound helps me to restore a sense of balance and any weariness which comes from passing mask-less strangers.
3. HAVING A HYGGE PRACTICE – Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is a lifestyle with roots in Denmark. It is the Scandinavian interpretation of good living which includes cozying up to simple pleasures and habits. At home, I use dimmers on my light fixtures when the sun goes down. As the sun comes up for my Vinyasa Yoga practice on Zoom – major hygge – this lighting option coaxes me gently onto my mat. Just like the mindful practice of yoga, hygge puts self-kindness, presence, and space for yourself at its heart.
At the office, hyggeligt (hygge-like) touches may differ. Whether working from home or remotely tethered to a computer, try an aroma diffuser which plugs directly into the USB port on your laptop. You might start the day with peppermint or orange scents to boost energy and tame anxious feelings, and wind down later in the day with more calming scents such as lavender or jasmine.
If falling sleep is a sticking point, treat your feet (which contain 72,000 nerve endings each!) to a bedtime massage using a drop or two of lavender essential oil mixed with your favorite carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba. The pores on the bottom of your feet can pull the oils into your system quickly.
4. SLEEPLESS NIGHTS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: THE STRUGGLE IS REAL – The 24 hour news cycle, dealing with upended family routines and not knowing in the time of COVID-19 when the threat will disappear, is enough to keep anyone up at night. Taking your power back then is critical too, to beat back emotional unrest and keep the immune system sharp.
- Climbing into bed several hours before my usual bedtime has persistently persuaded my body to get more rest, even if I’m not sleeping.
- It has been a challenge to keep my smartphone out of the bedroom right now, given a nagging desire to check my Google news feed at odd hours. Sometimes late night comics help me to look at unsettling events of the day with humor. Be this the case some nights, keeping a pair of orange-hued Amber glasses on my nightstand helps. The lenses assist in preventing disruptive blue light waves from the phone and television from entering the eyes and brain and interfering with the sleep cycle.
- A piece of wall art I purchased recently is strategically placed within eyeshot of my bed. It’s a friendly reminder to expect good things, and to channel as much mental energy as I can muster to stay positive.
5. MAKE A PLAN – During this pandemic, when focused attention is a challenge and the day can escape you with distracted thoughts, having a plan is psychic currency. It feels good to feel accomplished at the end of the day. I have seized the opportunity to do certain things I had not made time for pre-pandemic.
- CLEAN SOMETHING – I have organized closets and drawers and found things I forgot I owned. I have clipped articles in magazines which I previously refused to toss. I’ve scaled down my stuff and it’s power. PhoneSoap, a smartphone sanitizing device reminiscent of a miniature tanning bed has been a source of unexpected daily comfort. It uses UV-C light to stop the spread of illness-causing bacteria. When I return home from an excursion, I toss whatever will fit under the hood – keys, sunglasses, credit cards and earbuds for extra peace of mind.
- READ SOMETHING – I have bookshelves full of favorite self-help books on wellness and the plant-based life, many of which I have not had time to read cover to cover. These past months I have dug into them, keeping a small stack by my bed, and another on a chair by a window with a view.
- BATCH COOK SOMETHING – This method of prepping food for more than a meal at a time has multiple definitions. For some it means preparing and refrigerating or freezing whole meals every week. Fitness and bodybuilding enthusiasts proudly post their chicken, broccoli, rice and sweet potato combo meals in storage containers on social media. For them, routine trumps constant creative meal planning. Whatever works right? For others, like me, batch cooking is more about making pots of ingredients at the beginning of the week and using them as a base for re-purposed healthy fast food meals the rest of the week.
Retaining some of the good habits of self-care cultivated over the past months can serve us well into the future. Let’s use our power.