How does your practice change when you are experiencing a difficult period in your life? Does your practice disappear or do you lean in and become more intentional with when and how you practice?
I would like to say that I lean in hard to my practice when I am overwhelmed with life, but honestly, I have to admit that I can get lost easily in the distraction of difficulty. I do know however after years of practice, that when I am feeling overwhelmed, I need to be intentional with setting a schedule that includes self-care. These are a few practices and reminders that I schedule into my weeks during uncertain and challenging times.
Everything Is Temporary
A comforting thought when times are challenging. This wise cliche is helpful to create the stamina that is needed to move through each challenging moment. Try becoming still and notice that there are challenging moments, but not all moments are challenging. A perspective shift can instantly create some space for ease.
Stronger Than You Realize
You are stronger than you realize or give yourself credit. Be confident in the fact that you are here today because of your strength, resiliency, adaptability, and creativity. You have all that you need to support yourself through this moment and the next. Take a nice deep breath and slowly exhale uncertainty and worry.
Suffering is optional
Suffering in general, as well as specific to chronic pain, is a function of imbalances in the physical, mental, emotional well being. Because whatever affects the mind will affect the body. Slowing down and choosing your reaction to a moment is where your strength resides. There are times in our lives where we are not able to avoid pain and uncertainty, but we can choose how we react or move forward. This is tricky but worth exploring.
Panic, anxiety, and pain is rooted in speed. Speed of thoughts, reactions, and doing. Allow your practice to slow down so that you have time to choose your reactions, remind yourself that you are stronger than you realize and that everything is temporary. Add some slow and gentle mindful movement, restorative yoga, or meditation into your daily practice so that you have time to build on your skills of slowing down.
During difficult times, gratitude is more important than ever. Gratitude can help us cope with traumatic events, regulate our negative emotions, and improve our well-being. More importantly, gratitude can have a positive effect on our friends and family, too. It’s a small way to have a meaningful impact. Here are some ways to practice gratitude.
One of the best things we can do to lighten our hearts and mitigate the effects of stress is to get our bodies out of doors! A beneficial experience in nature can be active or passive- we can be doing something, like walking or playing, or we can reap the benefits by simply showing up and being present while sitting in meditation. Even if we aren’t exercising, a healthy dose of just being in nature can work wonders for our physical and mental health.
Movement and brain health are inherently interconnected, and research suggests that physical exercise is just as beneficial for the brain as it is for the body. Moving your body regularly improves your mood, decreases anxiety and depression, boosts self-esteem, and creates a more positive outlook. Try moving in ways that you enjoy. Go for regular walks, practice yoga, try dancing, lifting light weights, attend a class or explore a beach or local forest. Just move regularly (set a timer if that is helpful) and feel the benefits.
Lean On Community
In challenging times, we can feel isolated and alone in our struggle. But as we begin to understand and respect our interconnectedness, we begin to feel how a community is important and an essential tool to lean on when we are feeling personally challenged. These days, many of us are finding ourselves in roles of both needing to ease our own anxieties through the support of the community, while also offering support to others who are in need because of lack of mobility or resources. It’s a lot to juggle, but the more we lean on one another and provide a helping hand, the easier it will be to find a routine, sense of normalcy, and ensure all in our society are taken care of.
Make Time For Joy
Now more than ever, finding joy in your day-to-day experiences can improve your quality of life and enhance and protect your mental health. The news can be overwhelming. Work-life has changed for many and we are not able to “blow off steam” in our usual ways. These days it has become more and more difficult to find peace—both internally and externally. This is why joy needs to be a part of our self-care practice. Write a list of all the things that you love to do. How do you have fun? What sparks joy for you? Write a list of ways that you can spark joy or have fun with others. Spread joy and let it become contagious in your life and those around you!