We all want to feel good. When we can’t feel good, how about neutral or at least not so bad. These are some difficult times with Covid-19. I am finding that it is hard to plan, life goes on with difficulties, and we simply just do the best we can do with what we have. For example, my “life goes on moment” is that I had a hip replacement in May, right in the middle of the peak of the NYC pandemic, where I live.
I have movement and yoga that support my well-being. I did my Iyengar Yoga teacher training at the NYC Institute and my Gestalt training at the Gestalt Associates for Psychotherapy. Both approaches emphasis on the paying attention to the body. Why? What I mean by that is that we house our sensations and feelings in our bodies, but then our feelings show up in our mind. And then we can make stories of these feelings- and there we can get stuck with anxiety or depression. Many of my patients just want to feel better and say, “what should I do?” I asked this person what she was feeling in her in her body and she responded in exasperation, “What does it matter what I am feeling.” Often, I instruct clients to bring their awareness to their bodies and see what they are feeling inside. Is it ok if they don’t know- I help with this process. Often there is a strong sensation in there. We explored this sensation, check in out, and I have the client described it. Usually this sensation has to do with a feeling associated to some critical issue we are talking about. The feeling usually informs the client of what to do, or not do. So a feeling in the body and connecting with your body is critical!
So yoga and my practice- it essentially helped me gain an awareness, access, and feeling of grounding in my body the present moment. Yes, I need to stop sometimes and check in. It is through feeling in a given moment that I can know myself, feel myself, and then have the access of knowing what is going on-perhaps I realize I need to make a choice, or perhaps I realize I am simply anxious for good reason. Or from there, I can make the best decisions of what to do.
So try this. Sit comfortably, on a chair or on the floor. I recommend having your back leaning against something. This will allow you to sit upright and also give you feedback of the length of your torso. Soften your eyes and close them if you feel comfortable. Feel what part of your body is reaching the ground. Feel the what part of your body is lengthening. Feel the width of your body from the center of the chest to the sides. Let your arms relax by your sides and place your hands on your thighs. Feel your breath. If you feel anxious or another prominent feeling, see if you can approach it with a sense of curiosity and wonder. Be curious about the feeling and use the wonder to check it out for a little while. Now, this experiment doesn’t have a goal. It is just that, an experiment to feel yourself in the given moment. You may learn something about yourself. Pass me a line about how it goes!
People are all reacting differently to Covid-19 and the additional demands being put upon us. My clients’ reactions range from anger that dog runs are closed to gratitude to be able to channel one’s inner introvert while in quarantine alone, to the headache of filling out unemployment forms online. Regardless, our lives are different and the future is unclear.
1) Keep a routine! Working or not, do it. I especially recommend something planned for the morning so you have a reason to get up in the morning and get going. If you deviate from it- fine, but set the structure in advance.
2) Get outside (while keeping safe by social distancing). It’s spring! Get some fresh air, look up at the clouds and and the beginning to grow on the trees. Try to get into nature if possible. The vitamin D will do you well for the body and mind.
3) Move your body. Include this in your daily routine. Know your rhythm- if you are a morning person, exercise in the morning. If not, schedule a time for it later in the day. You can stream a workout, run outside, invest in a stationary bike (I got one for $150 off of Amazon), join a live online yoga class -- they are a great way to get moving and connected with your body.
4) Eat well and sleep well. Keep it simple. If possible, eat fresh produce and if you can’t get it fresh, frozen is 2nd best. Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule. And don’t feel bad if you deviate, there is always tomorrow.
5) Socialize. Do a video call with a friend – or a group of them! Call the friends who make you laugh and allow you to feel yourself. It won’t be too long before you can give that friend a big hug.
And hey, if you find that your worry, anxiety, or feelings of hopelessness are overwhelming, it could be time to reach out for help through a therapist. You are not alone! We all need support through this and if you are feeling overwhelmed- which can show up as feeling stuck, over stimulated, sad, hopeless, or overly anxious, reach out for therapy! I can help.