Written by Leora Givoni, Founder of Small Act Major Impact.
Nurturing yourself during every stage of life is vital. Nurturing yourself during times of crisis is mandatory.
By nurturing ourselves throughout our lives, even when times are good, our bodies build and store resilient behavioural responses. It’s like building muscles at the gym. If you are fit and healthy and get an illness, you are often able to recover quicker. The same can be said for recalling positive responses. They are stored and built like muscles.
During a time of crisis or difficulty, we go into fight/flight mode. And when we go into this mode, our adrenaline surges, our senses shut down and we lose our ability to effectively “hear other people”.
The importance of nurturing oneself when in crisis or difficulty is paramount. It does not have to be time-consuming. Small acts can have a major impact on self-care strategies during difficult times.
One example of this is to introduce breathing techniques into your day. Breathe in for the count of 8, hold for the count of 9 and breathe out on the count of 10. Practice this every four hours, four times a day and you will see that even this small act will have an impact on reducing your stress levels.
Are we more likely to let self-care go during difficult times? How does this impact us?
In a time of crisis or difficulty, we start to think we are time poor and can’t invest in self-care. The irony is, the more time you invest in caring for yourself in difficult times, the more efficient you become in caring for others.
By not caring for ourselves, we reduce our ability to have compassion. We deny ourselves compassion. Our fuse gets shorter. Our judgements increase. We become less impartial and practical. In fact, when life is already stressful we introduce additional negative thought patterns and behaviours by not allowing ourselves time out to heal from the negative energy associated with the crisis.
How can we nurture ourselves during times of crisis? How can this be implemented when our movements are restricted (for example in times of self-isolation)?
The wonderful news is that nurturing ourselves during a time of crisis does not mean escaping to the Himalayan Mountains or moving to an Ashram for three months.
Nurturing can be introduced in small acts that can have a major impact on you and your family in the confines of your home, no matter how limited your space may be.
Here are some tips you can introduce into your life, especially when in isolation –
1. Focus on the positive
Focusing on the positive is a learned behaviour.
Do not see this sentiment as something trite, but rather a habit you can create. Every time you have a negative thought – stop and ask yourself “what is really going on here?” The act of asking this question will in itself be a circuit breaker for your negative thought patterns.
Positive communication with yourself is so important at this time. Remember the stories we tell ourselves create moods, reactions and behaviours.
2. Limit negative mind feeds
Continuing on from focusing on the positive, it is really important to limit the amount of negative news you take in. This does not mean that you should bury your head in the sand. Allow yourself to stay up to date with what you have to know to stay safe, but there is no need to overindulge in news throughout the day.
Do not watch negative television shows. There are so many uplifting series to watch. Be inspired by Cheer, the documentary series about an inspiring Cheerleading team from Navarro, or revisit old episodes of Friends.
Now is not the time to go to bed watching a series about serial killers and psychopaths.
Remember – negativity in equals negativity out.
Awareness of the good in times of crisis will help raise spirits. Look for good news stories.
This is a great time to take up meditation, a proven tool for reducing stress, blood pressure and increasing immunity. Many people believe that meditation is aligned to certain spiritual practices. It can definitely be an agnostic practice. There are many apps available to assist with taking up meditation. Some are – Sam Harris, Wake up. Deepak and Oprah’s 21 day meditation packs, Smiling Minds and Headspace.
4. Stay or get fit
If you are physically able, go for walks, jogs or runs.
Many training studios have taken their programs online, making exercise accessible for those in isolation.
5. Listen to music
When feeling flat, put on a happy song and dance around your home.
Remember, by nurturing yourself in times of difficulty or crisis, you will promote positive thoughts, increase the chance of daily equilibrium and resilience while maintaining your physical and mental health. With these boxes checked, you will also be in a more positive frame of mind to help others.
How important is social connectedness during these times? How can we reach out?
“According to a meta-analysis co-authored by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having alcohol use disorder. She’s also found that loneliness and social isolation are twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity”. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation
While intuitively we know that social connectedness is important, the above findings demonstrate just how vital it is for maintaining positive mental health in our community.
In countries where isolation is already being enforced, phoning or Skyping friends, other family members or work colleagues is really important. Creating WhatsApp groups where you share funny and positive information can help people feel included and cared for.
It is also important to remind ourselves that this is a moment in time, but for many who live alone, there are many moments right now, so where we can, let’s reach out and make sure they feel connected.
Leora Givoni, Founder of Small Act Major Impact, is an Executive Coach, Communications Strategist and qualified meditation teacher who has consulted to some of Australia’s largest banks, legal practices, government departments and environmental packaging companies. She conducts both group and individual meditation sessions. Leora works closely with individuals and businesses to cut overwhelm while creating clarity and unforgettable messages.