Stress Free Safe Social Distancing

Dr. Simone Baum, ND

What to do when socially distancing during the Corona 19 virus pandemic?

To be socially responsible good citizens of the world we all need to be practicing social distancing. We are trying to slow down the transmission, save lives and help to not overwhelm our medical team and hospitals. We can do this if we work together.

The uncertainty of what is happening and what will happen is causing stress and anxiety in a lot of people. Isolation in itself can make people feel alone and scared. Here are a few things you can do to help ease your fears and decrease your stress levels.

1. Mindful Meditations can help decrease inflammation and increase immunity as well as calming the nervous system. On Dr. Brad Lichtenstein’s website you can find different meditations to try at home. I would recommend practicing one or two a day.<>

2. Breathwork is another way to calm your nervous system and increase immunity. As a biofeedback practitioner, I would recommend nose breathing with a pacer app like Breathe+ two times a day for 20 minutes at 6 breaths per minute. Inhale 4 and exhale 6 with no holds. Practice low and slow diaphragmatic breathing. You want to fill your belly up like a balloon and slowly breath out with no effort. If a feeling/thought comes up, take note of it and then bring your awareness back to your breath. No judgements. Just breathing.

3. Get out into nature. Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing has been shown to increase immunity and decrease stress. We are lucky to live in Vancouver where there is easy access to the many different forests and trails.

4. Keep a schedule. Get out of bed, get dressed and plan your day. Having a routine can help with depressive symptoms and alleviate anxiety. Schedule in journal time as well to give space to your feelings/thoughts/concerns that are coming up at this time. Include a nighttime routine to help you sleep better. Organize where you will work at home. What your children will be doing when you work. Have a schedule for your children as well. The uncertainty for children is immense and many do not understand. Giving them a predictable routine helps them feel safe and can ease anxiety.

5. Stay connected to friends and family through facetime and/or skype. Talk to each other about your concerns and worries and also think of ways you can help each other. Reach out to neighbours, friends, family who might need more help during this time. This is a time to connect and support each other. The connection to others will bring us all through this and will help ease loneliness, depression and anxiety.

6. Spring is coming and it is a great time to start a home garden. The act of digging in the dirt is grounding. Gardening calms the nervous system and allows you to be creative.

7. Cook! The act of cooking and baking is soothing to your nervous system. You can get your whole family involved and start connecting. A lot of bloggers are putting out easy pantry friendly recipes. Food is Medicine!!! Onions and garlic are antimicrobials. Peppers, citrus fruit, kale, brussels sprouts are high in Vitamin C. Anti-inflammatory foods include turmeric, garlic, nuts, fatty fish and olive oil. Homemade chicken broth increases immunity, helps heal the gut and is anti-inflammatory.

8. Don’t forget to exercise. Add some form of exercise into your daily routine. There are a lot of streaming classes and youtube videos that can keep you active at home. Hiking, biking and walking are easily accessible to most people and allow for social distancing. Exercise improves mood, helps with sleep and decreases anxiety.

9. This might be a good time to adopt a dog or cat or spend more time with your pet. Spending time with pets decreases anxiety, gives companionship and keeps you grounded. It also keeps you in a routine and gets you outside more often.

10. Turn off the news and get your news from credible sources. The CDC and WHO are good up to date, knowledgeable sources. Online streaming news can increase anxiety. It is good to check the news at set times of the day.

11. Find a purpose for this time. A lot of us are self isolating at home and feeling a little lost without a regular routine and contact. Finding a purpose can help ease anxiety and depression. Think about how you would like to be in this space. What meaning can you bring yourself, your family, friends?

And remember you are not alone. We are in this together and together we can get past this.

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