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March 19, 2020

Finding Calm in the Storm: A Mini Survival Guide

Let’s just take a moment to breathe.

There’s no doubt that some degree of uncertainty or stress is popping up in our lives due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Let me gently remind you that you’re not alone – we’re all in this together.

We don’t know what the future holds, but at the same time, we never really know what the future holds. All we have is the present moment, and this is where we can make the conscious effort to slow down, take it one day at a time, and recognize when we’re moving from rational problem-solving to irrational panic.

I’ve compiled a list of free resources from online fitness and meditation classes, to a few of my top wellness tips to help you take care of your body and mind during these wild times.

Mind your mind

During times of uncertainly, our minds can go in all sorts of directions, from worrying about the worst case scenario, to ruminating on particular thoughts and worries.

Here are a few simple ways to help calm your mind:

  • Write it down – Get it out of your head by getting it down on paper or a screen. Sometimes this simple act can help tune down the emotional weight of a particularly persistent thought or worry. Setting a “worry time” well before bed can also help create distance between worry and sleep.
  • Distract yourself and direct your attention elsewhere – Yes, a lot of things are closed or cancelled, but life doesn’t stop. Call or video chat with a friend, learn something new (https://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/25-killer-sites-for-free-online-education.html), Marie Kondo your house, read that book, journal, make those lists, work on that habit, lean into your compassion and help someone else in your community who may be struggling with the isolation, just keep making plans.
  • Tune it out and talk about something else – Set limits on social media and sources of news, this includes setting some boundaries in conversations with friends and family.
  • Make a plan – Anxiety Canada has two excellent free resources, My Anxiety Plan, and a free app called MindShift (available for iOS and Android). Both are based on tools from evidence-based forms of therapy to help reduce the impact of anxiety and fears.

Mind your body (and mind)

Stress can effect everything from your immune system to mood, sleep, appetite, and general sense of well being. It’s during these stressful times that we need to double down on our efforts to take care of the basics: sleep, nutrition, activity, and effectively managing stress.

So keep on keeping on. Being at stuck at home doesn’t mean you have to stop doing everything that helps you feel and stay well. As history tells us, this will not last forever.

Here are a few totally free things you can do in the meantime:

  • The YMCA is offering over 60 totally free fitness classes online for a range of ability levels from yoga, barre, Tai Chi, to boot camp and weight lifting at ymca360.org.
  • Do Yoga with Me also offers huge library of free yoga classes in many different styles. If you can, offer to purchase the videos for the nominal fee to support the free services. Check out doyogawithme.com.
  • Tune in, tune down, and listen. Meditation Minis is hosted by Chel Hamilton and they offer 10ish minute guided meditations to help manage stress and anxiety. https://meditationminis.com/
  • If work and life permits, keep a regular bedtime and wake up time. This strengthens your circadian rhythm and can help make sleep more predictable and restorative.
  • Though it might be tempting, avoid long naps and sleeping in which can impact the quality of your night sleep.

Get the right information:

  • If you’re worried that you or loved one might have been exposed to or have coronavirus (COVID-19), the Government of BC has just released a simple self-assessment tool with links to accurate and timely information. https://covid19.thrive.health/

I’ll keep adding to this list as I come across new resources. In the meantime, take good care of yourself and others. If you’ve come across a helpful resource that you’ve tried and enjoyed, please share below!

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