Restrictions have started to lift in Ireland and there has been a definite buzz around getting back to “normality”. While the external lockdown begins to ease, sometimes the internal one can take a little time to catch up. For some this time is full of fun and excitement and for others the only buzz they feel is called anxiety.
This article is for those of you who aren’t #buzzing to go back to normal life. If you need some tips to help stay centred while you’re adapting you’re not alone. Keep reading.
Whether you’re struggling with social anxiety or financial anxiety, this is a PSA to be kind and gentle with yourself while you adapt to daily life again. Penney’s will still be standing in six months if you don’t have any extra pennies right now (sorry, couldn’t resist) or if you can’t cope with the high volume of queues and people.
No matter what you’re going through it’s important pay attention to what’s going on within you. Become aware of how you’re talking to yourself. Self Talk can have a significant effect on mental health and often we don’t realize how tough we are on ourselves until we begin to observe it.
Remember that nothing is permanent, even if it feels that way.
Tell yourself (and your brain) that it’s OK to feel what you feel and everything is working out for you even if you can’t see what’s next.
It loves to problem solve but when left to its own devices it will come up with absolutely ANYTHING to find a solution. By controlling your inner talk, you send that inner dialogue in a new direction. You can self soothe by speaking kindly to yourself. Otherwise the mind tends to spiral anywhere it can to find that solution it desperately seeks and will drag you down there along with it at any cost.
Another important thing to note is your brain is another organ in your body just like your heart, liver, intestines – which are all part of your makeup but not who you are.
“You are not your thoughts”
Your brain is running off whatever information it has been fed up until this point; with that information it is trying to find a solution. It doesn’t know good from bad, it’s just trying to function. It needs your help to give it direction and train it into new habits, behaviors and thought patterns.
I remember rolling my eyes at this during the depths of my mental health struggles long before I became a Yoga teacher because I just didn’t get it and no one really explained it to me. I thought “how can a couple of deep breaths help me right now, if only they could hear what was going in my head…”
The mind and body is so interconnected and they work together to bring you back to balance or homeostasis as it is scientifically termed. The easiest way to deal with anxious thoughts is actually not to deal with the thoughts directly but come back into your body and calm yourself down from there (using deep breaths). This process automatically calms down racing thoughts, helping your mind and body return to balance.
When we’re having extremely anxious thoughts we’re living entirely in our head and therefore become a bit disconnected from our body. Also when we’re feeling anxious, we’re usually not getting enough oxygen into our system because our breath is quick and shallow, a direct to reflection of our thoughts.
This feels like an out of body experience where everything feels surreal and woozy. This is called “disassociation”. Focusing on the breath allows you to take more oxygen into your body and the breath gives your mind a new point of focus. Learning how to breathe properly will have a huge impact on your mental and physical wellbeing.
When we’re born the first thing we do is take a breath which signifies LIFE, your quality of breath is a mirror reflection of how the life force is moving around your body. Breathing in yoga is taught as the step before meditation because it redirects the focus from your mind back into your body, which is a key element in learning how to meditate. It is easier to meditate when you are watching your thoughts rather than being an active participant in whatever story your mind is spinning.
Practice as many times as you need, adding on an extra count of ten breaths when you’re ready to progress with your practice. You will be surprised at how easy this is, how much better you feel when you increase your oxygen supply, and how quick it is to fit this into your daily routine.
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“Routine” can sound a little bit militant but it also comes with a sense of familiarity and normalcy. I don’t know about you but that is exactly what I need especially when everything outside is changing post lockdown.
This will help you feel grounded and more at ease with any changes that begin to happen to your daily schedule whether that means going back to the office or having to meet people in real life, not on zoom! If you have got into a habit of exercising online on certain days of the week, or if a morning or lunchtime walk has become your new normal, try to keep those things in your schedule. Even if you have to decrease the amount of times you can get them in per week.
Whatever is causing your schedule to shift and changes identify your core needs for the week: exercise, self care, family time, social time and schedule them into your new routine. If there are it’s important to you, you owe it to yourself and your wellbeing to do it.
If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you desperately want to switch up your schedule but it hasn’t happened yet due to social or financial pressures, keep taking each day as it comes. Try not to project worry out into a future moment that hasn’t happened yet.
What has helped in my own mental health journey is asking myself “what do I need today?” and following that nudge. It helps you feel more connected to yourself and identify what your core needs to live a simply. It will always be a straight forward answer: go for a walk, read, watch something funny, meditate, move my body, have a glass of wine, get a takeaway, grab a coffee, spend time in nature etc.
You can either ask yourself this question as soon as you wake up (while your logical mind is calm after your sleep cycle) or grab a journal and see what flows onto the page. All of these things are part of living a balanced life and you will feel like doing different things on different days.
It’s important to take each day as it comes and roll with whatever surfaces. Ask yourself “what do I need today” and invoke a sense of playfulness and curiosity into your life, allow yourself to feel a sense of liberation in the midst of restriction.
This one is pretty obvious but not always easy. Sometimes it means being brave enough to slow down and have a look at the deeper beliefs that are causing cycles of anxiety, fear and worry. It’s usually a core belief that is the culprit.
Our core beliefs are the foundation of everything – our thoughts, behaviors, habits, actions, reactions, responses, emotions. When we identify the core belief we can begin to restructure how and what we’re thinking and feeling. Internally shifting the way we perceive and cope with the external circumstance. Identifying the cause of something and calling it out means it’s not really lurking in the background anymore.
Changing your core belief system is possible, rewarding and magical but also requires persistence and awareness. Awareness of when your crafty mind is trying to entice you back into old habits and behaviors that no longer serve you.
I’ll share more about this in an upcoming article as it’s something that has helped my mental health and just general everyday wellbeing. When you get it, everything begins to click in a new way. You begin to understand what the ancient scholars, sacred texts, scientists have been telling us since the beginning of time just through different teachings.
It’s also about being honest with yourself. If you don’t feel ready for full on social situations just yet – be honest with yourself. If you’re not in a financial position to go shopping or out for dinner and drinks – be honest with yourself.
Be honest with your friends and family too. Tell them how you feel and what your current circumstances are. Don’t feel the pressured to keep up with appearances or do what everyone else is doing. Just because life seems to have recommenced, it’s important to remember that it never stopped and you had all of that time to learn to adapt.
So give yourself time to adapt all over again, tune into your needs, be honest with yourself and your friends and family. Even though certain things are deemed to be socially acceptable again, be gentle with yourself and continue to live in a way that feels true and acceptable to you.
If you need more health and wellness tips keep an eye on our latest news section. If you would like us to discuss any particular topics, dm us on Instagram @struttin.ie or email us @ [email protected]
Written by Rachael @fioru.wellbeingShare