Ground, centring, self care in a turbulent time

Ground, centring, self care in a turbulent time

During times of turmoil and ambiguity, we can become unsettled, anxious, and disconnected from the anchors that we draw emotional strength from. During our recent periods of lock downs more than one-third of Australians felt disconnected from family and friends. People in those industries that haven’t stopped during this period are vulnerable to burn out which may reduce immunity and overall quality of life.

Our resilience bandwidth also reduces and our emotional peaks may be experienced more intensely.

Grounding or Centring are techniques that may calm us, slow down our emotional state and enable us to become mindful of the present. The terms seem to be used interchangeably but I use centring to describe the proactive routine you can follow and grounding as both making a connection to the earth and as a response to an anticipated trigger.

Centring as I practice it is about self-care and this means different things to different people. Some examples include cultivating a practice of mindfulness, of gratitude, meditation, physical movement such as yoga. You can incorporate rituals into your day which make it richer. This might be turning off social media and notifications and prioritising reading for an hour. It could be free form writing in the style of ‘morning pages’ or a more creative style. It could be a walk around the block after dinner. It could be eating around the table. A bath. Listening to music.  Calling people instead of just texting to maintain a social connection (or as my wise friend calls it ‘the human connection’). These practices do not have to take a long period of time. You do not have to do them all. Find something that fits with you.

The easiest way of ‘grounding’ is by barefoot walking. Try it. Chose a lawned area that is soft on your feet and walk through it.  Feel the cold, wet grass on the soles of your feet. The sides. In between your toes. It is not unpleasant on a Spring or Summer day. It might not be something you try in snow or in winter!  You could try the other methods in those seasons.

Use rough and tumbled stones as sensory objects you hold in your hand and slowly turn them over like a natural fidget spinner. Having a stone/s that has meaning for you – perhaps something you have collected on your travels or a crystal you appreciate the colour or metaphysical meaning of – adds to the process.  A simple calm moment.

Image Thanks to Brina Blum for sharing their work on Unsplash

You can take a deliberate pause break before meetings and visualise feeling connected to the floor, to your chair, feel your thumb and index finger make circles against each other. Breathe. Extend your inhale and your exhale. Be in that moment. Slowly come out of it and ready yourself for the meeting, zoom call, home school. The next thing you have to do.

Look at creating moments that cultivate self-care and compassion.   Make time for the activities you find restorative.

And reach out to a health care professional if you are struggling.

Stay well

Sam x

Sunday Funday v Sunday Scaries

Sunday Funday v Sunday Scaries

I’m sure many people aren’t fans of Monday mornings.  How about Sunday afternoons? Turns out those feelings of worry and anxiety through to overwhelm and dread that start mid to late afternoon on a Sunday are experienced by many people.  Whether you call them Sunday Scaries, Sunday Syndrome, Sunday Sads or you haven’t given the gosh darned awful feeling a name, it exists.

It’s sometimes a little comforting to know that something you experience #isathing.

The New York Times describes as ‘…sometime past three o’clock. The weekend hourglass is spilling its treasure… unmistakably, there is company’.  It’s an eloquent way of describing the roller coaster beauty and sadness of Friday arvo to Sunday (for those that have ‘weekends’). That ‘company’ is a sense of pre-anticipatory worry about the week ahead. This might be a sign that all is not well at work, but it is still experienced in those that love their jobs.   If you have really busy weeks a negative feeling associated with the end of the weekend and downtime, and the start of the approaching week is common.

It’s when this meets the preparation for the week ahead that Sunday Syndrome often starts.  Your trigger might be something else – working to identify it is a great method to address it.

For me – I love the weekend.  My oft quoted phrase is “I haven’t had a bad one yet”:) And yet hit 5pm some Sunday’s and I’m running at full tilt getting ready for the week ahead: putting away shopping, cooking, cleaning, family time, juggling upcoming appointments, cases, meetings and deadlines. It’s hectic.  All self inflicted – I’ve eeked out every available minute enjoying my time off – and then bam, responsibility comes on back with a vengeance.

My #52weeks goal this week was to embrace Sunday afternoon AND ENJOY IT!

My tips:  Don’t procrastinate life admin. Don’t store it up until Sunday 5pm.  Triage what *really* needs to be done v. what *should* be done.  Actually abolish the word *should* – it’s got to be one of the most anxiety causing words out there. Channel your inner Yoda “Do or not do’.  This dealing with procrastination extends past Sunday afternoon of course 🙂

Build in your own version of self-care.  If that’s a warm bath and scented candles – knock yourself out.  Right now, on Sunday afternoon I’d probably be too preoccupied thinking about cleaning the bath afterwards to enjoy it!

For me, a part of self care is not doing anything that feels like work. And leaning into it. Hell, immersing myself totally in it.  This could be cooking, listening to music, podcast, webinar (learning is not working!), reading, board games, bike ride, kicking the footy around the park and lately, watercolour painting. Right now I’m trying to master painting monstera leaves … for a non creative, the struggle is real (!)but enjoyable.

Fun is an undersold panacea.  Find fun.

Stop, pause, breathe.  Slow, deep, steady breathing switches on that part of your nervous system that drives ‘rest and digest’.  You can do this anywhere and it can be incredibly calming.  Or, maybe incorporate a Sunday yin yoga session.

Support your nervous system over the weekend with nourishing foods rich in vitamin B’s, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, zinc, omega 3s. This might be a simply prepared greens, grain, healthy fats, salmon or tofu bowl on Sunday night.

Flower essences work well here!  Bach Elm, Hornbeam, Impatiens, Wild Chestnut & Wild Oat makes a great mix. A Sunday blend might be the initiator to your self-care routine.  Nervous system herbs are a wonderful adjuvant also. Starting with herbal teas such as chamomile, lemon verbena, tulsi, passionflower. Use loose leaf, chose organic, and brew these fairly strongly and sip on.  You can cold brew these teas in a mason jar and serve over ice as a replacement for that other medium we often use for calm on Sunday: alcohol.  A glass of wine with dinner might be great.  But it may also not stay at one to two glasses, negatively impacting on sleep and contribute to fatigue.  Not a great way to *start* the week on Monday morning.

Adrenal herbs are also useful at reducing anxiety – by either tincture or tableted formulations which also contain stress busting nutrients.  This next level intervention is best addressed by seeing a Naturopath.

Talk therapy might be something you consider.  At minimum, check in with friends and maybe give them a short call on Sunday. Invite people over for a very simple dinner, or ask them to bring a plate, meet in the park in late afternoon while we still have some summer sunshine.  If you find you need more directed help in this area consult with a psychologist or counsellor.

Enjoy your Sunday.  Love to hear what your Sunday Rx entails.

Photo by Rahul Pandit

Goal setting, micro moves, visibility & accountability

Goal setting, micro moves, visibility & accountability

 Everyone has 50 million things to do.

And yet some people manage to get a stack load of stuff done. And we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It got me thinking why them and not others?

But … insert really plausible reasons why you aren’t achieving your goals … you’re busy. So busy. And you’re asking me to do more?

I get it. I really do. I’m busy too. I know that some days you are on the go from sun rise to sunset and barely have time for a break.

And if you do, you just want some mindless relaxation time. A little Facebooking. Some Twitter. Some telly.

Not actual more work. Or study. Or exercise. Or cooking dinner. I totally understand that moment. And I understand the danger of succumbing to it. Social media is designed to be addictive. Pre-packaged meals, Uber Eats, takeaways are equally addictive when we chose super palatable, sodium, saturated fat and sugar laden meals. Both options can be soothing, numbing agents that provide some welcome respite from our day.

But is this good for us? There are countless reports on the negative impact of social media. And junk food. And avoiding exercise. We know this and yet it’s hard to commit to making the required changes. I mention these particular things as they are a common thread with naturopathic clients who struggle to incorporate healthy changes into their lives.

Trust me, I’m still using social media and Uber eats. But this year I’m stripping away the excuses and the enablers and I’m tackling my ‘life to do list’. Firstly, by making a really simple list and clarifying what my goals are. There are some great big hairy audacious goals and there are small bite sized ones. And I’m making progress on most of them.

How? By making sure every week I have done something on the way to completing that goal. Mostly lots of ‘micro moves’. These are small tasks that can be done in a short amount of time that give you a sense of positivity and keep you moving toward your goal.

I’m also outsourcing those tasks that I just need help getting done. Oh, and I’m asking for help from friends and family as well if they have particular talents I really need …. like I have one WordPress bugbear. Do I know any WordPress Gurus?

There are countless reports on the negative impact of social media. And junk food. And avoiding exercise. We know this and yet it’s hard to commit to making the required changes. I mention these particular things as they are a common thread with naturopathic clients who struggle to incorporate healthy changes into their lives.

I’m trying very hard to be visible so that people know what I’m doing, researching, learning. What I have on my list to do. What’s stopping me from getting there. You would be amazed at how many opportunities open up when friends, family, colleagues know your purpose and your interests. It’s incredible how helpful people can be if only you let them 😀

In my other areas of work I’m trying very hard to make time for more than just day to day activities and allocate some time to continuous improvement. Even if it’s just journaling brief comments that I will build on. To me that’s a micro move win for the day.

And with increased visibility you also indirectly get a whole load of accountability. If people know what you are doing or planning to do they can’t help but be interested in where you are at in the process. Now you’ve got your very own stakeholders expectations to manage. It’s a powerful motivator to make change happen.

My visible move for the week? I signed up for a fun runI hate running. It bores me to tears and it’s tough going too! But one of my goals this year was to run 5km’s without hating it. So now you know. I’ve gotta turn up on May 9th now. Maybe I’ll see you out there. And I’d love to hear that you are making your own micro moves toward your goals.

Stay well.