Shelter at Home, Tip for Sanity: Nourish Yourself

I’m going to tackle a very unpopular topic today.

Choosing foods to nourish oneself as an act of self-kindness.

Facebook is crawling with memes about binging on junk food as a coping mechanism for the stress of uncertainty and the discomfort of being stuck in the house. There are also self-fat-shaming memes about the results of this behavior and pledges to count carbs and fat grams and workout harder.

I’m here to propose another way.

What if we chose our food based on the nourishment it will provide? Not the 10 minutes of comfort we feel while eating it, but the long-term results of providing our bodies with the necessary building blocks for healthy brain chemistry. What if we shopped like wise adults seeking to support our mental, emotional, and physical health rather than like teenagers who found a $50 bill on the sidewalk?

I know for an absolute fact that there is no dessert that will make forget my misery for more than a few minutes (trust me, I’ve done extensive research for decades!) and that junk food leaves me feeling crabby, bloated, jittery and achy. I’ve come to the conclusion that the rewards of brief oblivion are not worth the persistent consequences of inflammation, irritability and a weakened immune system.

I’m not talking about deprivation, martyrdom or denial. I certainly am not trying to take your sweets or snacks away! I’m merely suggesting that you take a step back and question how you’ll feel after eating that doughnut or brownie or family sized bag of chips. Can you find another, less destructive, way of soothing your frazzled nerves? Can you find a creative way to satisfy your taste buds and not overload your body’s detoxification system? Can indulgence be the exception rather than the rule?

I’m working on how to support my unique nutritional needs with the staples in my pantry and the fresh foods available locally. Nobody enjoys pretzels or ice cream more than I do, but given that I could literally die by popping into the convenience store for some, is it worth the risk? Can I find a way to satisfy myself with the dried figs in the back of the cupboard or the pumpkin butter from the farmers market? As it turns out, yes, I can!

This situation is challenging enough without having to deal with unbalanced hormones, stiff joints, and sugar crashes. Don’t think for one second that I wouldn’t rather be eating a pizza followed by freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. But I will feel much more nourished and steady after the Buddha bowl I made with oats, sliced radish, homemade arugula pesto, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Sure, you won’t be finding that on any restaurant’s menu anytime soon, but it was tasty and satisfying and comforted me on a deeper level than briefly pleasing my taste buds.

I’m not here to judge anyone. We’re all doing the best we can with this messed up situation. Rather I’m here to promote self-kindness and to encourage everyone to think about the choices they make and the long-term effects they have. Nourishing myself wisely is one of the kindest things I can do for my well-being. In this climate of uncertainty, it one of the few things I have a fair amount of control over.

And that’s why I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this cup of tea and a spoonful of pumpkin butter. And then I’m going to roast some vegetables for dinner.

Shelter at Home, Tip for Sanity: Unplug Occasionally!

It’s been a busy week of connecting and participating in community via the web. I’ve enjoyed a Reiki circle, a yogini prayer ritual, a dance party, an energetic healing ritual, meditations galore, amazing Kundalini yoga classes, an active imagination journey, monthly astrological and energetic updates for April, a play date with my favorite kiddos, a chat with a friend on another continent, a chat with a friend and neighbor who might as well be on another continent, more chats with friends and family, and surely I’m forgetting several other events.

It’s amaaaazing how interconnected we can be these days. I’m so appreciative for all the quality content available from all over the world and the access I have to spiritual and sisterhood communities regardless of my inability to leave the house.

It’s also overwhelming. My nervous system just can’t handle all this connectivity all the time!

Today, I’m taking a break and unplugging. Allowing time to turn inward and acknowledge the array of emotions and spectrum of energy within me that needs to be sorted, processed, some of it released, some of it integrated, much of it welcomed and tended to with kindness.

You might not be able to step away from your electronics for an entire day. I get that. Yet there’s likely something you can dial down, some information you can let lie, a website or two that could be safely ignored, or a brief time out from constant social media connection that would benefit your mental and emotional health.

I’d love to read about how you’re managing this constant barrage of engagement. Just not today.

Shelter at Home, Tip for Sanity: Acknowledge ALL Your Feelings

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster the past two weeks. Much of the time I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the tools and skills that help me navigate the intensity of this global crisis. Frequently I am overwhelmed by grief for the suffering that so many people are enduring. And in between there’s an entire of array of confusing, yet equally potent, feelings.

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I experience a lot of joy due to the freedom of a blank schedule. I feel frustration sometimes at being stuck in the house or not having access to the places I want to go. I feel anger when another effing jogger sneaks up from behind me and violates my personal 6′ radius. (Seriously joggers, you are not moving fast enough to escape rival contamination!) I can easily sink into a pit of despair thinking of the debt I will incur if I’m unable to work for months.

This second tier of emotions is easy to explain away by comparing my situation to others. My relentless inner critic wonders how I can be happy, sometimes even thriving, at a time when so many are sick and dying? How can I be so insensitive when others don’t have a house to be stuck in or a credit card with which to buy the food necessary to fill their bellies? What of the hospital employees who willing go to work, the epicenter of contamination without proper protection?

I’ve come to realize that yes, it is absolutely true that millions of others are suffering much, much more than I am. Yet this does not invalidate my emotional response to a very difficult situation. By denying or suppressing my own feelings, I block the flow of life-force energy in my body, putting myself at greater risk for illness and most definitely inhibiting my ability to help those in my community whom I am able to help.

So I’m allowing the full range of emotional expression to work its way through my system. Pretending not to be joyous when I am joyous doesn’t help anyone who is sick and prevents me from receiving the heart healthy rewards of exuding joy. Pretending not to be worried about my bills wreaks havoc in my digestive system when simply acknowledging that I’m worried and that I’ve already done everything in my power supports greater assimilation of nutrients and elimination of waste.

Somewhere there is a balance of accepting and experiencing my emotions and allowing them to move through me without distracting, numbing, avoiding or wallowing. I aim for that balance. Even if I never master this art, every step in the right direction is beneficial to my health and well-being. And that’s good enough for me to continue my efforts.

Shelter at Home, Tip for Sanity: Get Grounded

I’m spending a lot of time lately doing remote Reiki treatments for immune system support. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Reiki healing energy is that it’s not limited by time or space, so even during this period of isolation and quarantine, people are still able to benefit from a treatment without the risk of leaving home. Clients tell me they feel less anxious and more relaxed, which translates into healthier immune systems. It’s a win-win-win situation.

What I’ve been noticing over the past two weeks is a sharp decline in clients’ groundedness. When I’m not grounded I feel spacey and out-of-sorts, flitting about constantly but getting nothing done. It’s when my energy is rooted in the earth that I’m most effective at creating positive change.

The simplest way to get grounded is to put bare feet on the earth. Given that it’s still quite cold here most days, that is not an appealing option. I’ve found that making friends with a tree can help. By leaning my spine against the trunk and touching it with bare hands, I can feel my energy patterns begin to normalize and clear thinking return. My natural connection to the earth is reestablished and I become much more productive.

Grounding is also said to reduce inflammation thereby promoting a decrease in pain and an increase in immune system functioning. It’s not my area of expertise, but here’s an article if you’re interested in learning more. There are even techno-gadgets on the market said to enhance grounding through a building’s electrical system.

I prefer the old-fashioned way. Hug a tree. Or if that feels too weird, just lean against it, make contact with your skin, and breathe deeply. Let Nature do the work and allow yourself to receive the benefits.

Shelter at Home, Tip for Sanity: Trust Your Intuition

For those of us who are healthy and confined at home, this is an opportunity to slow down, get quiet and listen to the still, small voice within. We’re faced with such a huge volume of information, much of it conflicting, some of it utter nonsense, that it’s often hard to make sense of it all.

When in doubt, I trust my gut. My intuition has been guiding me for months now to prepare for this crisis. I’ve been stockpiling books and tea and essential oils without knowing why. Now I know! Hundreds of subtle nudges have led me to be much more comfortable in this situation than if had I ignored them. (If only I hadn’t overridden the message to not purchase a monthly transit pass for March, I’d have an extra $130 in my pocket. Oh well, I have taken note! Don’t argue with the gut!)

As I lean into this internal guidance system, my trust deepens and the messages are easier to decode. Generally I don’t know why I’m urged to go to a particular place at a seemingly random time until I get there and find the very thing I didn’t even know I was looking for! Given that I’m mostly moving between the chair and the couch lately, the messages are more often related to reaching out virtually to someone or which meditation or yoga class to enjoy. Still, each step in the right direction brings me closer to my greatest good.

My sense that I’ve been gently herded towards maximum health, safety and comfort by a higher power was confirmed when I received a message with this picture attached. My dear friend Rod is creating a multi-layered chakra affirmation painting for me. He started with root chakra affirmations, painting each next layer on top of the last and for some seemingly random (but I know otherwise!) reason captured the 6th chakra and shared it with me.

I wrote these words several months ago and believe them to be true. Yet it was still very powerful to be reminded of this Truth. I am guided. Every step of the way. And when I remember this and take guided action, I am empowered and more likely to experience my optimal reality.

Won’t you join me in taking this time-out in our collective narrative to tune-in to your inner guidance system and develop a relationship with your intuition? It does take patience and practice, but I can promise you that it’s worth the effort!

Shelter at Home, Tip for Sanity: Support Someone in Need

Well, it’s official. The mayor of Philadelphia has essentially sent me to my room. As an introverted homebody, I’m actually looking forward to an even slower pace and the challenges of occupying myself without any outside influence. It’s a brilliant time to get creative in the kitchen since it’s clear that popping out for snack food can literally kill me. Strange times!

Many other people have had a less cheerful reaction to the shelter at home restriction. If you’re healthy and confined, I have some ideas to help ease the tension. Stress is incredibly damaging to the immune system, and minimizing it is probably the most important thing you can do for your health aside from social distancing and hand washing.

Given that I have some time on my very clean hands, I recognize this as a brilliant opportunity to devote more time to my blog. I keep saying I want to do that, but life interferes. With much of life on hold for the moment, I have no excuses. I’ve cancelled all my appointments except the long-distance Reiki healing sessions, and since I have no commute for those, I’m blessed with the gift of free time. So here we go.

Once you’ve done all the things you need to do for your own wellness, consider how you can help someone else. Is there one small step you can take to make someone’s life easier? Can you help a local business stay afloat? Can you reach out to someone who might need to hear a friendly voice?

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The clients, students and friends I speak with who are actively engaged in being supportive to others seem to be faring much better than those who are obsessed with their own microcosms. Don’t get me wrong, first we need to attend to our own stuff, emotions included, but shifting the focus to someone who might be needing a hand can work wonders. It doesn’t need to be an expensive or heroic act either.

Today I reached out to the farmers I usually buy my produce from at the farmers market. I figure they have vegetables, I want vegetables, there must be a way to connect. I’d much rather spend my money with local merchants who must be struggling than support the richest man on earth by ordering online. I was delighted (perhaps overly so!) to hear that I can get my veggies at the end of the week and even more delighted to have shared a brief connection with the farmer.

It was a small act, but really the high point of my day. I suspect we have a lot of days ahead sheltering at home, and I’m eager to make the most of them. Lending a helping hand where I can is definitely going on my to-do list. I’d love to hear about ways others are being supportive. You never know what might inspire another person to take action.