So here we are again, a little different to last lockdown – that was very unfamiliar and a massive shift from what we had ever known. The way we lived our everyday lives was turned on its head. This time feels like more of a lull or a lag…..I don’t think we had really gotten over the last lockdown, not to mention the incessant media reports that seem to evoke fear and panic into us, as the viewers.
After listening to my clients’ difficulties around working from home during lockdown, I have come up with a few strategies that may assist and the feedback has been great!
So here are my 5 top tips to cope with this lockdown in a calmer and more healthy state:
1. Sync your smells to your daily activities and invest in a diffuser
Many of my clients have explained that due to their small living quarters, relaxation, work, meals and sometimes even sleep can be happening in the same areas.
You may be confined to a dining table, couch, bedroom or kitchen bench to work on your computer, especially if there are multiple people living under the same roof.
Your olfactory nerve is the nerve in your brain that connects to your central nervous system and registers smells….have you ever opened a cream or shampoo or walked into a room and the smell reminded you of somewhere? In fact, smells can be a great memory jogger, which is why it may come in handy during lockdown.
I recommend using different scents for different activities at home, for example:
Exercise – lemon, lime, wild orange and/or bergamot
Work / focus – Lemon, rosemary, ginger, frankincense and/or cypress
Sleep – Lavender, cedarwood and / or chamomile,
Relaxation / weekend – clary sage and / or ylang ylang
You can create your own blend of essential oils that work for you.
Your brain will get used to what the different scents mean, making it easier for you to switch into work or relaxation mode, even if it’s in the same space!
2. 3 x Movements to do daily
Movement doesn’t always mean walking, running or difficult stretches. I am sure you are all noticing the tightness in your shoulders from maybe sitting incorrectly. You may not even notice that your joints or muscles are tight until you do some movement. Let’s face it, we aren’t moving as much while we are in lockdown, so it is easy for joints and muscles to contract and seize. I propose 3 movements, to be done daily.
- CHEST OPENING
Standing still and straight, lift your arms to the ceiling, palms facing each other, and then turn the palms out, as you gradually open your chest and bring your arms back down, feeling your shoulder blades coming together. Synchronising your breathing – slowly in arms up, slowly out arms down – will have the added benefit of calming your nervous system.
- BUTTOCK STRETCH
This can feel so great, but just be gentle to start with. If the stretch is too strong, put your leg (left leg in this picture) against the wall at 90 degrees, rather than pulling it forward with your arms, like in the second image.
It’s best to stay in this position till it releases, which may be a good few minutes!
- LEGS UP THE WALL
Legs Up the Wall Pose is a restorative yoga posture that allows the mind and the body to relax, relieving stress and tension. It is one of the most approachable yoga poses as it doesn’t require much flexibility or strength. It is also fantastic for blood circulation!
Put your bottom as close to the wall as you can with legs to one side, then roll onto your back moving your legs up the wall. Best to put a rolled up towel under your sacrum for maximum comfort, and to come out of the pose, gently roll to your side.
If you have concerns about stronger blood flow moving towards your head, this pose may not be for you. Caution with high blood pressure also.
3. Sit in the sun for a hit of Vitamin D
We are blessed with sunshine most of the time here in our beautiful Country! Take your lunch, your stretching, your mindfulness and your conversation outside!
The warmth of the Winter sun is so healing and less dangerous that the harsh Summer sun so it is actually the perfect time to be out.
Whether it’s on a verandah, rooftop, backyard, front yard or driveway – wherever the sun is shining, be in that space.
Vitamin D is super important to keep your bones and immune system strong, in fact, autoimmune conditions and higher rates of cancer are associated with low vitamin D status.
Remember if you are dark skinned, you are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.
4. Stick with a good sleep routine
Sleep is the ultimate solution when it comes to your health and looking great! Staying up late and sleeping in can be tempting whilst in lockdown, but this can really muck around with your energy levels and metabolism. By metabolism I mean weight gain, hormonal issues and ageing – all things we want to keep in check right??
Additionally, beyond staying focussed and making good decision , sleep is important for regulating your emotions. In fact, research suggests sleep loss can influence the onset of anxiety and depression.
……..and in times of lockdown, you certainly don’t need sleep deprivation to add to mental health concerns!
There are many possible reasons for lack of good quality sleep – vitamin or mineral deficiencies, certain medications, pain, shift work, alcohol, stress etc. Always best to speak with a health professional to work out how we can help.
Otherwise, stick with the basics of getting to bed at a decent hour and turn off devices 1 hour before bed to achieve 7-8 hours of healing sleep.
5. Ask others if they are ok and listen!
Never underestimate the value of a phone call to a family member, friend or colleague to check in on their wellbeing.
Listen out for signs of behaviour changes or comments made that aren’t really normal for that person. For example, negativity in a normally cheerful individual, or panic in a normally calm individual.
Try not to focus on the negativity, rather things there are to be grateful for (we have many), but at the same time, it’s important to allow that person the space to be sad or alarmed, worried or angry – there is always a reason behind it…….just listening can make a difference, because it is then that the person knows you can hear them, and are there for them.
“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference” Barbara De Angelis