It has been just over 6 weeks since the UK went into lockdown and many of us were forced to stay at home for all the right reasons, bringing a new way of life behind closed doors.
New routines, new roles (including some around the waist for me), new habits. Less travel, less socialising, less certainty. We were forced to adjust. Some of us found it easy, some of us found it difficult, some of us are still trying to work it out, some of us are resisting it. I am sometimes all the above on the same day. That is why the tools in My Wellness Toolbox are being used with force right now to help me live in the moment.
I am also aware that this is not ‘forever’, further change is ahead of us. When lockdown is lifted, we will be given permission to step back into our “normal” life and pick back up old routines, although they may look a little different. Some of us are excited by this and can’t wait for it to happen, some of us are daunted by it and fear more unpredictable change. I swing between both. That is why the tools in My Wellness Toolbox will also be used pro-actively with force to ensure I am prepared when the change comes.
These are just a few of the tools that have helped me reduce the overwhelm, remove the guilt of living behind closed doors whilst friends and family go out on the frontline and that encourage me to live in the moment and to think more positively.
TOOL: MEDIA – TURN IT OFF
If you are watching, scrolling, or reading anything in the media and it does not make you feel good then switch it off.
When we are feeling overwhelm, anxious or stressed, watching an upsetting storyline on our favourite soap, reading about crime in the local newspaper or scrolling through a mass of friend’s opinions on social media can trigger the stress response, making us feel even worse.
Think about the information you are allowing your mind to absorb; it will make a difference to how you handle today and tomorrow. If you have a choice, try to make it a positive one for your mind.
If you want to switch something on, make it your Positive Playlist or your Peaceful Playlist. Music is another endorphin pumping tool that can help uplift or relax you when you need it most.
TOOL: RELEASE & LET GO - I have several techniques and tools I use to help me let go of worries and stress. I know the importance of releasing my negative emotions and thoughts. When I keep things trapped inside, my mental health declines, my stresses increase. If we do not release our worries now, they will be forced out at a later day, maybe without warning.
WRITE: Writing helps clear the mind. Grab a journal and put down how you are feeling in words. If you are feeling negative this is a great way to get it off your chest, you can then choose to burn it and watch the worries burn away. I call this WIDABI – Write It Down And Burn It.
If you are feeling good, then write down all those positive thoughts. Then if you do stumble across a bad day you can pick up your journal and your own words may lift you.
TALK: Talking and being open about your feelings is one of the best ways to cope with a worry or problem that is overplaying in your head.
When we share with others, it not only makes us feel less alone, your words may just help the person you are talking with, encouraging them to also open up and let go.
Do not feel that your worries or concerns are less important than someone else’s. We are all different, we all have different life experiences, different levels of resilience and tolerance, different strengths. We are all in different boats, yet the same storm right now. All of us trying to navigate our way through, if we talk, we can help and guide each other, making the journey less stormy.
CRY: We enter the world waving this tool in the air, letting the world know we have arrived, yet for many we grow up thinking that crying is a sign of weakness. It is not. Crying is an important self-soothing tool; it activates the parasympathetic nervous system enabling your body to calm down.
Crying releases endorphins including oxytocin, these are feel good chemicals that can help relieve both emotional and physical pain.
Tears also detox the body; emotional tears contain stress hormones and when we cry we are flushing them away. Releasing tears during a time like now is very important to help your mind process and accept what is happening.
TOOL: BREATHING EXERCISES - The great thing about this wellness tool is that it can be used anytime, anywhere and it doesn’t cost a bean. Breathing exercises can stop anxiety and panic attacks in their tracks, instantly reduce stress, and can even help you sleep. I have also recently discovered they are essential when trying to home-school a 6 and 3 year old!!
There are many different breathing exercises to try, this is the one that works best for me;
Breathe in for 5. Breathe Out for 10.
This takes a little practice but once mastered you will be using this exercise with little effort. It is very effective in making you feel calm very quickly in different scenarios;
Try it now.
- Make sure your feet are on the ground.
- Try and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth
- Take a deep breath in and count to 5
- Take a deep breath out and count to 10
It does not matter how quickly you count or for how long you do this exercise, just repeat this until you feel calmer.
Breathing exercises are also a great way to start or end the day. Just Breathe. Just Be.
You can use all these tools on the good, the bad and the ugly days. Allow them to support you as we continue to adjust through the coming weeks and months.
If you would like to learn more about discovering Your Wellness Toolbox and find even more tools to support you through your everyday life, you can purchase a copy of My Wellness Toolbox on www.mywellnesstoolbox.co.uk or Amazon, it is also available as an eBook and audiobook.