eight practices for coping during challenging times

Let’s take a big belly breath together, shall we?

The pulse of anxiety on the planet feels palpable these days.

I am obsessed with how tragedy can turn us onto our truest selves, how it helps us live a life we love and clarifies how we want to add love to the world.  

Regardless of what happens as we move through the rest of 2020, we have to {have to!} cultivate our resilience.

How we process, respond to, and act during difficult times has massive implications for what happens next – whether we succumb to the hard things or surmount them.

Here are my top practices for navigating these wild times.

Unplug.

Between the never-ending line up of Zoom calls, social media hooks, news coverage, and inbox overwhelm, digital burnout is a thing. Our screen time has been steadily increasing over the last six months.

We know excessive screen time messes with our sleep, contributes to depression and anxiety, reduces empathy, and sucks away curiosity, self-control, and emotional stability. 

I’ve found a handful of ways to cope with this:

  • my phone is on silent 99% of the time {with the rare exception of when the Suns need to get in touch with me}.
  • turning my phone screen to greyscale {it’s a quick cure to smart phone addiction}
  • screen time for the Suns is limited to 20 minutes on school days {and often none at all}
  • when I’m in a line up, I make an effort to talk to people instead of pulling out my phone
  • when I’m with the Suns, I am intentional about only using my phone for logistics {driving directions, pulling up a new recipe we are learning together, checking the weather}
  • when I’m in nature, my phone isn’t allowed to be out
  • I sit on the front step in the morning, sip a matcha, and listen to the world wake up before I plug into tech
  • I only read physical books

Technology was created to make our lives better and easier.
It’s up to us to make sure that happens. 

Get embodied.

If your body is hot wired into the flight/flight/freeze/fawn response, it doesn’t matter how strong your mind is, your body will override it.

When you slow down and send messages of safety to your body, your mind can follow. 

Here’s a gift for you: a 43-minute process for connecting to your body and releasing stress
Do it during hard times and your nervous system will thank you. 

Dance.

Put on a rockin’ playlist and shake your booty. 
Literally, shake. 

Inhale through your nose and release a large and loud exhale through your mouth.

 Shaking is a natural way to release tension and a primal impulse to a stressful situation. In therapy, clients will often have neurogenic tremors to discharge pent up energy and release stored emotions. 

Baby, I’m gonna shake it off, shake, shake, shake it off.

Connect with nature and humans.

Running was never really my jam, but … desperate times. 

I’ve taken up trail running near my home and {shockingly} it’s something I look forward to everyday. It’s made a massive difference for my mental health. 

Watching the light show in the sky and the chippy squirrels makes me so damn happy. 

You don’t have to run: walk if you want, skip, lollygag, do what feels right for you. 
Added bonus if you toss out a cheery greeting as you pass people.

Exercise. 

I was delighted to discover some new research on how exercise can be as effective in the treatment of depression as antidepressants.

Whaaaa?
Awesome. 

Do what you enjoy: cardio class, weightlifting, pole dance, get crazy with a kettlebell, hop on your Peloton … you choose. All that matters is that you move.

Rest. 

Have an extra-long soak in the tub, take a nap, make sure you’re getting eight hours of sleep, do a tea ceremony in the morning before the world wakes up, meditate, read a book. 

Being on high alert is exhausting. 
Watching the stream of people fighting on social is depleting. 
It’s easy to slip into cerebral congestion. 

The space and quiet that rests provides is necessary for maintaining a healthy perspective. 

There’s a mountain{ish} of empirical evidence that downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, is essential for high levels of performance and memory making, is needed to keep our moral compass on point and to maintain a healthy sense of self.

Keep your people and your pets close. 

We are wired for connect, the more healthy connection we have during stressful times, the better we do. 

Good doses of oxytocin {one of my favourite hormones because it’s nicknamed the ‘love hormone’} can reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels and increase our ability to cope with pain. 

Cuddle up like your life depends on it.

Complete something. 

When we feel like the world is spinning out of control, it’s important we focus on the control we do have. Your brain thrives on finding a task, taking action, and feeling a sense of completion. What’s one small thing you can complete today?

Those are my favourite tips for coping during challenging times.
Combine a couple of them for best results.

As we ride the rollercoaster of life, we can manage our emotions in a healthy way, take care of ourselves and each other, and emerge stronger than before.

You’ve got this.
I believe in you.