10 simple, self-soothing practices to promote your physical and emotional wellbeing during times of uncertainty, including rituals, movement, essential oils and a touch of silliness.
There is no denying that we’re in the midst of uncertainty. Even before any of us had even heard of Coronavirus, many of us were already struggling with our fast-paced, switched-on existence. We could see this in the levels of anxiety, overwhelm and depression all around us.
To expect ourselves to cope with the huge changes swirling around us whilst having our everyday normalities and distractions forcibly removed, it’s little wonder that we can feel like we’re floundering, drowning even.
As a tonic to all of this, I’d like to share the simple practices I often turned to when I need to feel more grounded and at peace. By no means are these magic cures but they might serve as a soothing balm at times where we could all do with a little extra support.
1. Make time for movement
Whether it’s a fully rounded yoga practice or just 10 minutes of mindful movement led by the body, making time for movement will always be beneficial. We can move in ways that are energising or calming depending on what we need in any given moment.
In moving, we are able to:
redirect blocked and/or stagnant energy in the body
balance body and mind
embody a feeling of wellbeing
For guided practices, do keep an eye on my YouTube channel, where I am hoping to release short yoga and movement videos every Thursday.
2. Set up a sacred space
A sacred space doesn’t have to be religious or grand. It is quite simply a little corner of your home that feels a little bit special, that invites you to realign with the present moment and to come back to yourself. You might use it for meditation or just a quiet place to sit where you can take a short time-out for yourself at the start or end of your day, or any time you need grounding.
My sacred spaces are dotted all around the house, in the hall, kitchen and next to my bed. They are all places I pass frequently, prompting me to pause and reconnect before moving back into my day.
You could decorate this space with an altar: a small gathering of mementos or objects that serve as a reminder of the things that sustain and nourish you. I have an altar at the head of my yoga mat, where I come to sit most mornings before anyone else is up. There are photos, flowers and other cherished objects.
Ideas for your altar:
photographs of loved ones
incense or an essential oil diffuser
3. Get some fresh air
Regardless of the weather or how tired I’m feeling beforehand, I don’t think I’ve ever regretted going out for a walk. And there are so many well-documented health benefits to getting outside and being in contact with nature including:
reducing stress levels
easing anxiety and depression
lowering blood pressure
boosting concentration and focus.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to green, open spaces, take advantage. Even if you can’t get outside (certainly trickier at the moment), open the windows and flood your space with fresh air. I promise it’ll give you a boost.
4. Tune in to a feel-good podcast
Podcasts for my have been a continual source of comfort, knowledge, joy and inspiration. And there is an utter wealth of podcasts to choose from. Whatever your interests, I guarantee you’ll find something that takes you fancy in the land of podcasts.
During challenging times, I recommend focus on podcasts that feature wellbeing, self-development and uplifting stories of human connection.
Here are a few to start with:
Feel Better Live More with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
How To Fail with Elizabeth Day
Dolly Parton’s America with Jad Abumrad
This Conscious Life with Emine & Paul Rushton
Happy Place with Fearne Cotton
5. Lose yourself in a good book
The simple joy of curling up in bed, on the sofa or in the bath (my personal favourite) with a good book should never be underestimated. Being transported to a different realm even for a moment can work wonders when it comes to lifting our spirits.
Through the power of words we can connect with other people’s stories, we can laugh, cry, and we can be reminded of the sheer beauty of imagination.
I neglected my love of books for many years. But having rediscovered the joy of reading for reading’s sake, books have become an extravagance of mine, one which I feel all the richer for having invested in.
Here are some fiction and non-fiction reads I’ve enjoyed recently:
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Circe by Madeline Miller
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay
Becoming mindful of the breath is a simple yet powerful way to ground yourself and bring yourself back to the present. Often, the very act of stopping and noticing is enough to slow down the breath down, elongating the inhales and the exhales until they are longer, slower and fuller.
When our breathing is slow and full like this, it signals that the nervous system is in the optimal state of Rest and Digest as opposed to Fight or Flight mode, an adrenalised state that primes our body for action in the face of danger. While Fight or Flight mode is sometimes necessary, we often find ourselves habitually tuned into this state even when no danger is present, which can lead to prolonged anxiety and stress.
How to tune in to your breath:
Stop whatever you’re doing
Place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart
Close your eyes
Observe your breathing without changing or manipulating it
Become attentive and allow your curiosity to blossom.
Where do you feel your breath? In the front, back, or the sides of your chest? In your belly? How long or short are your breaths? Is the inhale longer or shorter than the exhale?
The more you tune into your unique rhythm, the sooner you’ll start to recognise how stress, anxiety and/or relaxation shows up in your breath. patterns indicate various states of being, stress, anxiety or relaxation.
7. Put the kettle on
There’s something so comforting about preparing and savouring a warm drink. Whether its a soothing cup of tea, coffee or warm golden milk, rather than going through the motions, turn this simple everyday activity into a slow, mindful exercise. It can be a magically transformative ritual, and a delightful way to begin your day.