We’re on day 17 of lockdown in our house and even though I work from home a lot of the time— it’s easy to get antsy when staying home is a requirement, not a choice.
The collective vibe of the world can feel uncertain these days and many are riding a wild pendulum that swings between anxiety and hope.
If you identify with that at all, just know you’re not alone.
But there’s no reason to feel stuck in our emotions as well as our homes!
According to Harvard Medical School, “Stress control can — and should — also involve the body. Aerobic exercise is one approach; physical fitness will help promote mental fitness. But there is another approach: you can learn to use your mind to relax your body. The relaxed body will, in turn, send signals of calm and control that help reduce mental tension.” By creating routines that enable us to listen to our bodies and organize our thoughts, we can calm our minds and control stress.
Here are 3 practices to do every morning to keep calm and find clarity:
1. Plan your day
A great mind once said “Freedom lies in discipline.”
If you think your house is confining, imagine how it must feel to be an astronaut in a compact space shuttle orbiting the earth! Know how they maintain sanity in such tight quarters?
By planning each hour (and sometimes each minute) of their day.
Not only is planning proven to give us peace of mind, it also increases our productivity substantially.
I’ve got wily children running around and I want to be fully present with them, while also keeping my work schedule as normal as possible. Needless to say, my lists are absolutely imperative.
Whether you’re a bullet journal person who likes a little more flexibility or a strict schedule person — the science is bulletproof on the benefit of using them.
McGill University professor of neuroscience Daniel Levitin tells us that “most people can only hold about four things in their mind at a time.” He says that getting your activities down on a list opens up neuropathways so you can focus on your task at hand.
More concentration = fewer mistakes and more time to enjoy your family when those to-do’s are checked off.
2. Tend to a garden
During this time of not being able to “go out” the ways we used to, we can bring spring indoors! Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a yard or balcony, you can transform your space into a little paradise.
Nourishing and being present with some green leafy friends is a wonderful way to start a day.
Not only is gardening a practical hobby to pick up (‘cause who doesn’t like fresh herbs?), but solid scientific evidence also shows that growing plants is an actual healing modality.
One study took 60 subjects and split them into two groups. One group had contact with dirt and the other group only thought they did.
Those that were “earthing” on a regular basis saw a decline of anxiety, insomnia, and pain!
Anyway, new sprouts are symbols of hope… And don’t we all need a little of that nowadays?
This step isn’t so much about “staying in shape.” Our movement practices have the added bonus of getting “fit,” but they should first and foremost be about our overall health. Feeling good is our focus.
A recent study done at Harvard concluded, “Exercise reduces weight, lowers blood pressure, prevents diabetes, improves cholesterol, increases muscle strength, improves sleep quality, improves mood, and even sharpens the mind.”
In other words, exercise brings our bodies into balance while also improving our mental health!
You can do something as simple as a plank pose for 1 minute every day. Planks activate your pelvic floor, abs, obliques, glutes, erector spinae, and diaphragm! Working out these areas makes planks the perfect exercise to connect you to your breath and your emotional/physical center.
Another option is to do a little yoga every day! Don’t be intimidated by the ‘advanced’ yoga poses you might see online – there are many easy and gentle poses that beginners (and advanced students) can benefit from!
Here are 3 restorative poses to help calm your mind and body:
Cat & Cow Pose
In a table top position on hands and knees, inhale and drop your belly towards the ground. Lift the chest and gaze up to the ceiling — this is Cow Pose. On the exhale, use your ab muscles to draw your belly towards your spine, round your back like an angry cat and release the crown of your head towards the ground. Do this flow several times then rest in Child’s Pose.
From table-top position, bring your two big toes to touch and widen your knees to the edges of your mat. Push your hips all the way back towards your feet and rest your belly and chest on or in between your thighs (depending on how flexible your hips are). Extend your arms out in front of you and rest your head on the mat (or a block). Rest here for several breaths.
From table-top position – tuck your toes, press your hands firmly into your mat and lift your hips up and back. You should be in an upside down ‘V’ shape. Feel the stretch in the back of your legs – it’s okay if your knees are bent and heels don’t reach the mat. Press firmly into all 10 fingers and reach your chest towards to ground for maximum stretch in the upper body. Rest here for several breaths, then recover in Child’s Pose.
Host of Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness
& Founder of The Sacred Science