DISCLAIMER: I am not a psychologist, physician, or a mental health professional, nor do I claim to be one.
The following article expresses my personal opinions and should not substitute any mental health-related action/advice whatsoever. If you suffer from mental health-related disorders, always consult a mental health professional before committing to any undertakings.
As I write this, it is Tuesday and tomorrow is the first the day of school, homeschooling for my kids, for all the SA kids.
It’s a mesh of emotions. The pennies are tight for some parents and the anxiety for health and safety in this pandemic is real. What else is for sure is that It has been a long Festive season of mourning, of social distancing and isolating. So whilst distance makes the heart grow fonder, the anxiety of it is definitely palpable.
I think it is important for us to acknowledge our feelings. The reality with this pandemic is that we’re scared. We’re scared because we know and have seen how quickly this disease spreads, we know so many people who have been infected, are infected, or have passed on. We know that the only control we have is to follow all guidelines, practise social distancing, wear our masks, stay safe and to take precautions. Everything else is out of our control.
What this then does is leave us with a lot of uncertainty about the future. Many people have lost their jobs. Just last year alone many of us have had to readjust our lifestyles overnight. Our kids have had to stay home indefinitely. The world has completely changed and is constantly evolving.
And yet, still our lives must and need to continue. We need to keep our heads screwed on right. We need to stay sane and we need to maintain the focus. But how?
After struggling with so many panic attacks in the last year, I have found ways to bring myself back to centre. I am still getting the grip of all the changes because not all things are equal at the moment. Once you think you have a grip one thing, other things fall apart.
Well here are my tips on staying sane and keeping my wits about me:
Limit your media consumption
I didn’t even realise I was having a panic attack when my last one happened. I was watching the news. CNN. And the news broke of the terrorists that invaded the Capitol Building.
My heart was racing and my chest felt heavy. My throat felt as though it was closing up. I felt teary. I felt flushed.
I checked my temperature… normal.
Went item by item on my COVID checklist – all was well.
I steamed. Still tight around the chest. Still teary. I went into the bathroom, had an Epsom Salt bath, convinced I may have COVID, and cried. I made a Tumeric Latte and immediate felt some relief.
So instead of the heavy media consumption due to being at home most of the day, I have set myself a goal of reading 2 books a months this year and writing or journaling reviews of them. I have also started journaling my daily feelings in order to process my thoughts. But you can certainly read my magazine.
Firstly, exercise is the brain’s feel good transmitter – it releases an amazing natural mood booster called endorphins.
Exercise also gets me out of my moody funk. When I’m doing an exercise, I’m mindful of what I’m doing and I get out of my own head. I’m not stressed about all the million things going on in the world.
Having a fitness goal also helps me focus on something in the midst of the unpredictable chaos happening around us. At least one thing is in my control and is absolutely attainable.
Lastly, I sleep better when I’ve had a good work out in that day. Stress is draining and can also make us lose sleep, but I have better and more restful sleep when I exercise versus when I don’t.
Practice Grounding and/or Earthing
Grounding is when you feel deeply connected to your breath, body, and physical environment.
Earthing is one practice of grounding to help you find this connection. In any form of grounding, you observe the mind and become aware of the subtle shifts of your emotional and energetic bodies.
Ways in which you can do this are:
1. Walk outside on grass or damp soil barefoot. Close your eyes and breath in deeply.
2. Lie down on grass and just stare aimlessly at the sky. Feel how the earth holds up your body.
3. Dangle your feet in water – whether it’s your swimming pool or a bucket of water.
4. Sit against a tree and allow your weight to fully be against the tree
5. Rub some ice on your hands.
6. Sit on a well suported chair and allow the chair to carry your full weight and your feet to be firmly on the ground. Then drift your mind to where you feel safe and most at peace. Stay there and do deep breathing.
Grounding has helped bring me back to the present moment. And I have used many of these techniques when feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
Calm yourself with a cup of Green Tea or some Tumeric Latte
Tumeric Lattes are my favourite.
I love these because they are super healthy and beneficial. It’s literally stress relief in a cup.
Here’s heres how I make mine at home:
- 2 1/2 Cup Milk: Turmeric milk is traditionally made with whole milk but you can easily substitute with dairy-free milk, such as almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk.
- 1 tbsp Coconut oil
- 1 1/2 tsp Ground turmeric
- Cinnamon quill
- 1/2 tsp Ginger: Fresh or ground ginger both work well.
- Pinch of Black pepper
- Sweetener: Both honey and maple syrup add natural sweetness
Mix all ingredients together in a deep sauce pan over a medium heat and whisk until nice and smooth. Let the milk froth up a bit and then you can pour into your cups, add honey to your taste and garnish with either a quill or sprinkle of cinnamon.
Learn a new skill
Did you know that when your brain is learning, your creativity is enhanced, and the hormones serotonin (the mood stabiliser) and dopamine (the reward chemical) increase? I also love learning because it takes my mind off some anxieties and stresses and I am using this time to brush up on my digital skills.