Tennee | May 4, 2020
We are over six weeks into the COVID 19 quarantine. I have been home with my three kids, managing my business online in a time warp that feels endless. During this time, our normal patterns of life have been severely disrupted. Our sleep wake cycles have been dramatically altered. We are staying up late and getting up even later. The transition to online school has caused screentime to increase by 80% easily even though we live in nature and are free to spend time outside. Eating and snacking habits are also off. We eat later in the day and snacking is more frequent.
Feedback from clients indicates that they are experiencing similar circumstances. Common complaints include insomnia, excessive sugar and carb intake, and a increase in the use of alcohol and other mood altering substances. Mood issues such as anxiety, loneliness and depression are a common theme. As a result weight gain and lethargy are becoming more of a concern than before.
In researching effects of this pandemic on emotional health, information regarding the effects of extreme stress and its effects on human mental health is beginning to surface. Domestic and spousal abuse rates are skyrocketing. Children are also at higher risk of abuse.
My personal experience, feedback from clients, and research all indicate that learning how to care for ourselves is vital for mental health in these uncertain times. When you practice self care it becomes easier to extend the care out to your family, friends and community.
As I make these shifts in my own life, I’m also asking clients to create a daily set of “Self- Care Non-Negotiables”. I love the word ‘non-negotiable’ because it implies that you are not willing to give it up. It’s a statement and a pledge of support to your own wellbeing.
Daily self care increases your ability to handle stress.
There is an interesting difference between those able to put in place self care and those that don’t. Clients that are able to put in place a self care program are better able to handle stress than those who don’t. Those who feel they don’t have time for self-care, or who prioritize stressful activities like time on social media or watching the news over nature walks or 30 minutes of yoga continue to complain of fatigue, anxiety and depression.
Why create a non-negotiable self-care routine?
Nurturing yourself with self-care on a regular basis creates a new neural network that reinforces the belief that you are worthy. Feed your mind in this way and your physical health will respond in kind.
Cortisol production will simultaneously decrease, stimulating your parasympathetic or “rest and digest” system to kick in. This will improve digestion, sleep and help stabilize your moods.
Neural pathways: How to make changes and stick to them.
Many of us spend a lot of time running on auto-pilot. This is due in part to neural pathways that operate along the path of least resistance. So in order to make changes to established pathways that are not serving you, you need to build healthier neural pathways.
Similar to building up your muscles at the gym, this takes time and training. While change requires diligence and commitment, it is important to remember that we are exquisitely adaptable machines. We have 100 billion neurons which make a total of 100 trillion neural connections. That opens up a lot of opportunities to train our brains for success.
Studies show that we can train our brains by performing different activities thereby creating new neural pathways. These pathways get stronger with repetition until the behavior becomes the new normal. It takes approximately 10,000 repetitions to master a skill and develop the associated neural pathway. Brain training through apps such as lumosity are proof that this can be done. You simply have to commit to making change.
With a non-negotiable self care routine, you build new pathways in your brain the way a hiking trail is worn each time it is traveled upon.
Every time you focus on something that strengthens a beneficial pathway you will be rewarded with feel good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which will help boost your moods.
My personal non-negotiables during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Take supplements that support my histamine levels and immune system. These supplements lower inflammation in my body and strengthen my immunity. (I recommend you find specific support for your body based on your specific needs).
- Take advantage of the quiet time before my children wake up to make myself a cup of tea and meditate for 10-20 minutes.
- Journal intention for the day and write out the most important tasks that need to be accomplished.
- Drink a smoothie with greens at breakfast. Spirulina is one of my favorite greens to add in to a shake if you don’t have access to fresh vegetables or simply want to prepare something quickly.
- Spend at least one hour outside to exercise with or without kids. Time spent outside is essential for mental health (Walking, hiking, or playing sports outside seems to be how we spend our time outside).
- One hour before bed I either do an infrared sauna and read or take a bath. Both activities are extremely nourishing and revitalizing.
- Take supplements that support hormones and immune system.
For those who believe you don’t have enough time to institute a self-care routine, you can see-this is not a demanding and time consuming list. It is simply an adjustment of my typical day routine which proves extremely helpful for me in coping with my day today life during the stress of a pandemic. When I cut myself care routine short I feel “off” and am not my best self.
Other examples of self care may include:
are available online.
I personally recommend Delphine Davidson's Zoom class on Sundays for a grounding and gentle class. Great for all levels.
are available online.
I recommend Dr Joe Dispenza’s guided meditations.
Here is a link to a guided heart opening meditation inspired by Dr Joe Dispenza’s work - Heart Coherence Guided Meditation Dr Joe Dispenza.
like lumosity will wake up and stimulate your brain. This stimulates neurogenesis which will help to keep your neurons firing.
- Infrared sauna therapy
- Baths with epsom salt
- Listening to inspiring talks by speakers that motivate
- Work outside if possible in the dirt/gardening
- Activities that stimulate laughter and joy
- Connecting with friends and family on a regular basis through zoom calls
3 Steps to create a non-negotiable self care routine
1. Create a practice that sparks joy
This is essential for well being and commitment.
Pick activities that spark enjoyment. When you are engaged in a feel good activity, focus on the feelings of achieving your goals and intentions. Yoga and meditation both boost serotonin which is a “feel good” neurotransmitter and reduce cortisol, which is our primary stress hormone. Meditation is a discipline that teaches your mind to focus on what you want while allowing your nervous system to move into homeostasis.
2. Rewire your brain with incantations
Create a morning ritual that involves passionately declaring your goals for the day.
Incantations send the power of your subconscious mind on a mission to find solutions to fulfill your goals.
World renown author and speaker Tony Robbins is the master of passionate affirmations and incantations and I use some of his incantations on walks.
One of my favorites is:
“In every day and in every way, my body is growing stronger and stronger”.
There is power in expressing something with emotion and repetition as your body begins to learn it subconsciously, so choose your thoughts wisely! It may be a good time to examine the thoughts you have been telling yourself and ask yourself if they are truly making your life better? If not, choose differently.
3. Nourish your body with nutrients
Nourishing your body with specific nutrients is essential if dealing with anxiety, depression and stress. There are many nutrients that aid in the synthesis and regulation of neurotransmitters which create positive mental states. You can find these nutrients in many foods. A great resource for eating for neurotransmitter health can be found in the book by Ali Miller called The Anti anxiety diet book. I came across her work at Paleo FX last year and she is a wealth of information when it comes to supporting your neurotransmitters.
Key nutrients include but are not limited to:
This mineral plays over 300 roles in protecting the body’s health.
Deficiency can cause irritability, fatigue, PMS, mental confusion and predisposition to stress.
Magnesium is found in leafy greens, cacao, diary and legumes.
Helps the body create new cells and support serotonin regulation. Serotonin help the brain manage many functions, from determining mood to regulating social behavior.
Folate deficiencies can cause fatigue, and lower levels of serotonin. Folate is found in dark leafy greens, beans and lentils.
Helps the production of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) and regulates brain function. B6 supplementation is also an effective method for treating PMS depression. Deficiencies in B6 can cause long term effects such as a weakened immune system, confusion and depression. Food sources include fish, poultry and eggs.
Aids in the creation of red blood cells and nerves. It is an effective nutrient for treating premenstrual depression. Low levels of B12 can cause short term fatigue, slow reasoning and paranoia and are associated with depression. Food sources include organ meats, salmon and tuna. It’s important to note that you need proper HCL to absorb B12 so make sure your gut is in good shape if you want to get B12 from your food.
/Source: Harvard Health Publishing
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that plays an important role in brain health. The body does not naturally produce Omega-3, so this fatty acid must be consumed from outside sources.
Deficiencies include fatigue, mood swings, PMS, memory issues and depression.
The best sources include fatty fish such as salmon, walnuts and chia seeds.
Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining the immune system. Studies show low levels are associated with depressive symptoms. Vitamin D deficiencies may be the result of illness, low exposure to full spectrum sunlight, and inadequate intake of vitamin D rich foods.
Taking in Vitamin D in supplement form may be especially important during winter when exposure to sunlight is limited.
L-Theanine is an amino acid found predominantly in green and black tea.
It has an anti anxiolitic and calming effect on the brain. It increases serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels in the brain.
Matcha tea is renown for its high l-theanine content.
During these unprecedented times, it is essential to fill your cup with self care so that you can share your light with others. We need to support one another to get through this challenging time so start with yourself and it will move out to your family, friends, and community.
“Shine so brightly that you illuminate a pathway
for others to see their way out of the darkness.”
Dr Stacy A Maxwell-Krockenberger
To learn more about how to create your own customized non-negotiable self care routine, contact me. I am offering zoom consults to guide those interested in establishing a daily routine that will allow you to ground and find your center during these challenging times.
Wishing you a Radiant Reality!
Thanks for reading my blog.
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