I hope you and your family are well. I am thinking of you and sending my positive thoughts and prayers. We are missing everyone, and hope to bridge the distance through this electronic connection.
In this week’s “Touch Points” I will be focusing on the importance of finding balance and calm during stress and uncertainty.
If we are completely honest with our feelings, each of us has some degree of uncertainty, fear and stress. We are in the middle of an unprecedented event. So, it is not surprising that this challenging time has created a host of factors to increase our vulnerability and worry. But, making intentional choices can help move us from a place of worry, to a calmer, more centered feeling. I’m not saying that your personal “meshegas” (the Yiddish word for craziness or eccentricities) will disappear, but let me try to help you find more productive habits to increase a sense of calm. Some of these ideas will resonate with you, and others…not so much… So, just try one or two things consistently, and I bet you will see a positive change.
In addition, I am thinking of all the families that are at home right now caring for someone they love. Perhaps that person has memory loss or dementia. My heart is with you as you manage during this challenging situation. Besides doing your best to care for your loved-one, it is particularly important that you remember to care for yourself. I hope some of the ideas help manage the stress. Please be mindful of your own health and balance; you are precious to your loved-one and to us.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” (-Unknown)
Here are some ways to help find balance in your day:
- Breathe Deeply– When we get stressed or worried, we activate the sympathetic nervous system that is associated with the flight-or-fight response. In other words, when we are worried, we speed up our breath, and our brain thinks we are in danger (this is the flight-or-fight response). Then, our body can feel panicky and fearful. But, if we slow down our breath, intentionally, and breathe from our diaphragm, we can feel calmer. Our brain will, then, think things are fine. So, next time you are worried, focus on your breath and breathe deeply from your diaphragm.
- Repeat a Mantra– Okay, please stop rolling your eyes! I know this might be a little more “hocus-pocus” than you are used to, but, give it a chance. I swear, it really works. A mantra is just a fancy word to describe repeating a calming word or phrase. People use this in meditation all the time. But, you don’t have to commit to a full meditation to reap the benefits of a mantra. A mantra can help you find balance and improve your mood. For example, this Jewish girl often repeats the Hebrew word, “Shalom”, which means peace. I also say “This, too, shall pass.” Some other mantra ideas are: “Today I act with kindness toward myself.” “I am making healthy choices.” “I am strong.” “Things will get better.” Please use whatever phrase is meaningful to you.
- Take a Self-Compassion Pause– This is a therapeutic mindfulness technique that can decrease your anxiety by thinking/saying supportive thoughts. Use these steps to try this practice: Be aware of what you are feeling, pause, acknowledge that other people feel this way too, tell yourself that you love and accept yourself, and then breathe. This is a type of self-kindness that can bring compassion and love to yourself. This is particularly helpful for someone that hears negative self-talk.
- Stay Away From the “What If’s”– Thinking about, “what if this happens, or this occurs” can send our brain into panic. We don’t know the future, so thinking about “what if” will increase fear. Instead, keep in mind what you do know now, and be safe and prepared. This type of thought will help you make good decisions and stay calm.
- Improve Your Sleep Habits– Due to worry or stress, many of us may not be sleeping well. Sleep deprivation is detrimental to maintaining balance. Good sleep can help our immune system, cognitive function and memory, and plays an important role in our mental health. You can improve your sleep with these positive changes like: structure your evening with a bedtime schedule, find a relaxing bedtime routine, eliminate screen time one hour before bed, and avoid caffeine or alcohol. Sweet dreams!
- Nourish Yourself with a Relaxing Experience– Bring your mind into the present moment and lower your stress level with a relaxing practice. Plan a spa day at home complete with a heavenly bath and soft candles. You may also enjoy trying a homemade facemask, a relaxing foot soak or just a cup of tea. Or, just listen to soothing music while you sit in the sun. Everyone likes a little pampering and relaxation!
- Check out The Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s “Conversation Starters: Mindful Practice with Susan Lubar, President and Founder of Growing Minds.” Click to listen to a unique conversation about the importance of mindfulness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYC-XHrTdEU&list=PLl-OCNr_mRXSDXZtovY5b_n01EjNug5cO&index=3&t=5s
I would love to hear what you did to find more balance and calm. I am here for you and happy to help. Please email me at DRubin-Winkelman@ovation.org
Thinking of you and sending all my positive energy and love,