COVID-19 lock down has impacted our lives in many ways. However, there is not enough attention being brought to lock down’s impact on our mental health or self care. This means that we have to remind ourselves the importance of self care, mental health and relationships.
Althea Lawton-Thompson is a veteran fitness expert and mind-body expert with over 2 decades of experience. She combines wellness training with mindfulness techniques in creating a balanced lifestyle. Many professionals that follow her method has experienced reduced overwhelm and improved relationships.
“I’ve realized that the challenge is not always in navigating other people’s personalities. The biggest obstacle is how we relate to ourselves,” Lawton-Thompson says, “many people have a very critical self-perception and subconsciously (or consciously) speak to themselves in a harmful way. This behavior impacts how those individuals relate to others around them”.
Lawton-Thompson’s work as a mind-body specialist has allowed professionals to better engage with others at home and work, while improving relationships. Here are 4 self-care activities that you can practice while being in lockdown.
MAKE EYE CONTACT
Lawton-Thompson references to a simple exercise she developed. You take out a handheld mirror. Get as close to a mirror as you can and gaze into your own eyes.
Notice the shape, the color variations, lines and dots in your irises, and the size of your pupils. Notice as many positive elements as possible. Don’t see anything positive in your eyes?
Search your whole face until you confidently find at least two attractive things – lips, teeth, cheekbones, hair, shape of your face or head.
Lawton-Thompson mentions, “if you still cannot find one thing to admire, this may be an indication of negative self-perception and a need to speak with a professional who can offer support”.
Many believe that we attract what we focus on. When we think about and believe in positive things, those things occur. But reverse is also true. If we think, say, and believe in negative outcomes, they will also manifest or become reality.
Watch your words, especially your self-talk. For this exercise, go back to the mirror and pretend you are speaking to a five-year old child. What would you say to them? Would you say mean, defeatist words and phrases, or would you encourage and lift them up?
Lawton-Thompson recommends looking back at the five-year old version of yourself, “tell yourself how strong, smart, resourceful, and talented you are. Tell the truth. Find your strengths and speak them out loud to your reflection”.
Encouraging yourself improves your confidence and makes it easier to positively interact with others.
BE AWARE OF HOW YOU EAT
During a typical day, many of us eat on the go or while we’re doing something else. Not paying attention while consuming food may create undesirable results – overeating, gas and bloating, sleepiness, heartburn, and more.
For your next meal, stop everything and pay attention. Look at your food. What do you see, and how does that make you feel? Slow down and ask yourself why you’re eating at this moment. Does the food bring emotions of guilt and shame, or joy and pleasure? How are you eating – fast and furious, or slow and attentive?
Lawton-Thompson emphasizes the correlation between how we consume food and our interactions with others, “listen to your body and mind as they respond to your questions of why and how you’re ingesting. If we feel sick, pained, or uncomfortable, it’s going to show and affect our behavior”.
TURN IT OFF
Current political, economic, and global events keep many people glued to the news. Sometimes, we binge-watch popular tv series or search for an online movie simply out of boredom. If we’re not watching something, we may be listening to talk radio or podcasts.
Take a full day to simply turn it all off. Everything. Don’t log in to any social media; don’t turn on the tv, Netflix, YouTube, IGTV, Hulu, Roku, or any other content source; leave the radio off. For one day, let your brain hear only your own voice or the conversations of people around you.
“Instead of turning something on, tune into yourself and others”, Lawton-Thompson says, “whether reading a book, taking a walk alone, writing in a journal or getting creative… Disconnect from all to better reconnect”.