Keep walking and never forget the ‘small’ things…
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us to stay at home, where we have fewer social interactions and exercise less, and these are just some of the many changes we’ve had to make in our every day lives. We know this can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health and therefore I believe it is very important to remain active, motivated and connected. While reflecting on these different and difficult times, and sharing experiences with other elephant Minds, we’d like to offer you the following tips which may help you and your family stay safe, healthy, and proactive while at home.
Your attention is more powerful than you think! Remember YOU can choose where it goes…Heard this before? ‘Where focus goes energy flows’. As Tony Robbins believes, I do find that having some sort of plan and the discipline to follow through fosters efficiency and satisfactory results. You may choose to plan small steps, daily tasks, manageable projects which may be the building blocks towards a final goal. Allow for flexibility though as you may have to adapt, these are after all extraordinary circumstances for all.
Don’t forget to recognise daily accomplishments no matter how small you consider these to be. You could keep a journal of your daily progress which will help you feel things are happening, even if you are at home every day. Motivation can be a challenge so noticing the small wins will no doubt encourage you to carry on.
Find purpose in what you do or do something with a specific, and why not, kind purpose in mind. This has always been very important to me. Everything tends to be more exciting and becomes certainly more rewarding if you are making a difference, contributing to something bigger than yourself. Are you part of a charity or group who help others? Do you help within your local community? Why not make a small monetary contribution to any one Foundation which supports education or works to end hunger and poverty in deprived areas of the world? Equally meaningful, now with more time in our hands, is offering skills and knowledge to develop new or existing projects. Through the Elephant Minds Foundation, for example, we humbly support educational projects that give children in developing countries opportunities that they would otherwise not have; building schools, libraries, providing school meals and resources, teaching, etc. There are many wonderfully generous and kind organisations which help around the world. Why not get in touch and find out how you can help?
This situation generated by the pandemic means many of us stay at home and sit for much longer than usual. Many people find it difficult to continue practising their usual physical activity. I personally miss my yoga group. I’m grateful for online classes but I find nothing beats the energy of presence! We are still fortunate to have a beautiful nature reserve nearby so we do enjoy our walks. But I know that it isn’t easy for everyone and the situation may be worse for those who tend not to exercise that much under normal circumstances. In any case, you may go out for a walk and when at home take advantage of any domestic tasks to move a little more. Look around your home for opportunities within your daily routine. You can exercise with the furniture in your house and use household objects such as weights, or go up and down stairs, and why not dance while you vaccum the rooms, I salsaaa!
If you prefer something less active though equally wholesome, practicing chair yoga or diaphragmatic breathing, which occurs when inhaling inflates the belly-not the chest, and when you exhale the belly drops to its normal level, can be very beneficial to calm the nervous system in your body.
Careful what we eat
Healthy eating is very important, especially during the pandemic. What we eat and drink can affect our bodies’ ability to prevent and fight infections and to recover from them.
Although no food or dietary supplement can prevent or cure COVID-19, healthy eating is important for the proper functioning of the immune system. Eating a variety of foods that include fruits and vegetables, reducing the consumption of salt and sugar, fats and oils, staying adequately hydrated, and avoiding harmful alcohol consumption are just some of the basic measures suggested for a healthier and wholesome diet. In our household homemade wholemeal seeded bread and banana cake are the favourites! What’s yours? Likewise, when preparing foods, it is also important to maintain cleanliness and hygiene in our kitchens.
Food for the brain
When it comes to our mental health, we are most now also learning to cope with the new realities of teleworking, temporary unemployment, home schooling and lack of physical contact with family, friends and colleagues. This has required time to get used to and be emotionally and psychologically stable. Fear and anxiety are a normal reaction in situations of uncertainty but they need not stay within us long. Strategies such as staying informed, developing and following a healthy routine, reducing and managing exposure to news, maintaining our social contact, avoiding alcohol and drugs, wisely monitoring our time in front of a screen, using social media appropriately, helping other members of your community and supporting health professionals, are some ways of adapting to these changes in lifestyle, while also staying active and connected with our inner selves and others.
More tips to stay proactive and connected
• Work on forgotten or postponed tasks such as updating your CV or online profile, finish that house project; paint that wall, tidy the garden (we’ve done plenty out here!) or fix that kitchen cabinet.
• Is it a good time to declutter?
• (Mindfully) establish and strengthen our personal relationships via email or social media. Exchanging photos and experiences keeps us up to date with and closer to our loved ones.
• Sharing our opinion on books and movies may help us establish new ways of relating to family, friends, and colleagues.
• Opening a blog where we could narrate our experiences during lockdown could make this a unique and interesting opportunity for shared learning.
• How about learning some new skills; take virtual classes, become a coach, a copywriter or virtual personal assistant? There is so much to learn available online these days; workshops, webinars, lectures, any format and content on any topic you can think of! I take any opportunity I have for professional and personal development, do you?
• Offer your skills to others; baking, teaching or sharing your knowledge of computers. Have you thought of mentoring? You may help younger generations develop their sets of skills to enhance their career prospects.
• Join virtual movie or book clubs, chess or Scrabble clubs.
• A new and interesting idea many are trying is the planning of virtual trips to regions of the world that are unknown to them, either alone or in a group with family and friends, doing online research on them, watching documentaries and films related to this region of the world, its geography, culture, customs, climate, etc. Exchanging what has been learned and discovered enriches this fun and educational experience even more. I’m still to try this one…
Find your space-Know thyself
Time alone can be sometimes scary but trust me, it’s worth it. If you can’t stand your own company you might be in for trouble. If you are spending the lockdown or isolation with a partner, family or a roommate, it is especially important to find time for yourself. Yes, time to be alone. It’s not as scary as it may seem. This can be a great time to reflect on goals and objectives, who I am and who I want to be. What is it time to change? Am I a better person today than I was yesterday? Can I take advantage of this extra time to become a better human being; compassionate, kinder, more aware, more present (!), or a more knowledgeable and competent professional? If we have a quiet space that we respectfully establish and care for, reflection will naturally follow. Meditation, breathing and relaxation exercises, prayer or simply presence and mindfulness are some of the many tools that encourage and strengthen this healthy practice.
New times, new challenges, and also new strategies. Let’s not forget that in every crisis there are opportunities. Did you know the Chinese language has two ideograms that make up the word “crisis”? These are translated both as “danger” and “chance” or “opportunity”.
Gratitude uplifts and nourishes the heart and this can only make our relationships with others and ourselves more compassionate and loving. Focusing on what we have rather than what’s lacking is the right attitude and we should never underestimate the important effect that a gratitude practice can have on our wellbeing.
In conclusion, faced with a crisis we have two options: either we become frightened and depressed, something that is very likely to paralise us rather than help us move forward or we decide with optimism and courage to make the most of the opportunities that such circumstance holds. YOU decide.
By Patricia C Prada Jimenez and the Blogs Team
“Whether you think you can do it or you think you can’t, you are right.” Henry Ford