Hey, Galina here.
If you’re like us, living in a densely populated part of the world, you too, probably are feeling the stress of social distancing measures strongly.
For some, it’s more manageable, and for others, it’s literally the most stressful time of their adult life. A time that they don’t have the tools to deal with. So we have a little library of resources we have created and now made free to everyone who would like to deepen their self-care and preserve their mental health.
Library of Free Resources
I am in a unique position as someone trained as a Somatic Experiencing and NARM practitioner to understand the physiology of stress, and to support people to find a state of well-being and regulation in the midst of difficult times.
I’ve spent the last week staying up to date on measures, supporting clients all over the world (and back home in Bulgaria lockdown happened earlier than here in the US), and really creating an oasis of rest in our home.
We canceled trips, adjusted house rules for coming and going and are doing the best we can to show up from the best, most compassionate parts of ourselves.
First, the basics
Please understand that your survival physiology and stress response will get heightened during this time. Some of you will feel more disorganized and in a state of flight or fight, others will tend more towards freeze, which can look like denial, but can also look like hopelessness and depression.
I cannot emphasize enough that isolation and being alone contributes to this, so please as much as possible reach out and connect via phone, online video calls, and social media – this is the one time that you actually want to connect on purpose, even if you don’t feel like it.
Stress at this time is coming both from unpredictability and a change in daily routines, which can feel like a ton. Suddenly, the kids are home, you are having to work from home, or can’t go into work. Every place you love to go to is closed. Your daily creature comforts – your latte and wrap from the local coffee shop, are gone.
Things as you know them aren’t there for you – so you will have to lean into your natural resources – trust in your body, trust in human connection, and the ability to adapt. That being said, all of these skills and flexibility are inherent to the function of the nervous system, so the tools I will suggest below are designed to support and shift its state.
To the people who have reached out feeling stressed and out of sorts, especially the ones who feel like they can’t calm down their kiddos. Please remember that these primitive protective responses are there for a reason, and an overwhelming global event and its perceived threat feel incredibly real to our bodies.
Be gentle with you, meet each response with care and understanding.
You, yes you, are the competent parent for your system. You must be on your own team and act wisely on your own behalf.
The last thing you want is to add judgment, feelings of “not handling this well” and being “not enough” in some way.
You are more than enough, and you are also beautifully complex.
Some of your complex wiring also needs particular support. This is what people like me spend years in training for – learning how to provide it and teach it.
If you find that you can’t talk yourself out of your physical responses, it’s because the kind of “talking” your primitive wiring understands has a lot more to do with “feeling safe” than “hearing safe”. So language might not work well…but feeling does!
Here are a few simple things you can do right now to support yourself and your family. I will finish with links to our free programs you can use and share with loves ones.
Orient to your 5 senses several times a day
Our senses are the primary way that the brain determines safety. Tuning in to our senses and the body is way more effective than talking as a means of pushing back on the stress response. A few times a day, tune into your five senses.
Use your eyes, head, and neck to look around you.
Then, as much as you can, engage your vision in seeing as much of the landscape in front as you can, look in the distance, take in as much of the space around you as you can, even through a window. See softly, openly, let colors and shapes come towards you.
Relax into seeing. Find beautiful colors and art to observe and enjoy. If you have flowers, look at them, smell them. You can do the same with spices and pleasant smells around your home. Engaging vision and smell is first.
Then sounds, such as bird song and natural sounds are key (look up Gordon Hempton on Youtube for sounds of nature). Play them in the background if there is no nature around to listen to.
Take special time to taste the warm healing drinks and food you make. Eat mindfully.
If you enjoy touch, give yourself lots of self-massage, and have others at home massage each other, braid each other’s hair, paint each other’s nails, have a make up party, really any kind of grooming kind of touch between people or with your own body is incredibly helpful. Hug long and soft.
Use calm and soothing melodic voice, avoid raising your voice, arguing, or speaking in low, monotone voice (scary to kiddos).
This is prime time for “it’s not what you said it’s how you said it.”
Relax for longer periods of time
Do something that you know relaxes you for longer periods -20-30 min – at least once a day – a shower, take a bath, meditate, stretch, pray, journal, draw, take walks, ride your bike down a hill…whatever is relaxing, do that at least once a day and use as an opportunity to feel how you know that it relaxed you.
Check-in with your breath. Breathing in and out through your nose silently is fantastic.
You can also do the 10 step practice from Lois Laynee that helps your cranial nerves wake up and your breathing regulate.
Lights on and then off
Be smart with your light rhythms. See the sun as soon as you can after you wake up and closer to sunset in the afternoon.
Spend 5-10 minutes outside doing something in your yard, walk, or just stand and enjoy the warm sun’s rays. Lower all light at home at night, candles everywhere, you know what to do.
Get off your phone or make it very dim. Wear the sexy orange glasses you got for Xmas.
Garden and play in the dirt
Being outdoors will help tremendously with mood and movement, but it will also add some beneficial bacteria to your gut -giving much-needed protection and an immune boost.
It’s also something you can do side by side with your kids, and that’s just added bonus!
Sing and chant
It’s super helpful done in groups, but alone works too.
There are plenty of worship songs and sacred songs out there to learn the lyrics to and sing along.
Feel the sounds in your body. Have a drum? Add it. Harmonium? Guitar? Pull them out and play!
Alone or with others, dance is magically helpful to discharge stuck and incomplete survival responses. Do it for short periods several times throughout the day.
Find rhythm in your body
If you have a trampoline, a balance board, Smovey rings, a vibration plate – start your day there, it will greatly support your nervous system. You can shake off your whole body and limbs several times a day. You can also try a regulating exercise program, like my Unstress your body, which is now free to everyone.
Spend time with humans who feel helpful – you can still stay close and have coffee and lunch dates online or on the phone – as you can, smile and use your whole face to smile at them.
These things give us humans a sense of safety and connected well-being.
Laugh with others
Laughter is, the best medicine.
Seek out moments that evoke awe – at the mountains, at the coming spring, at human kindness, at your own body.
Awe is an incredibly helpful emotion to bring coherence in shaky times.
Feel awe at you, you are here in this time, we are all here together.
Free Programs and Mindfulness Practices
You will find our 30-minute movement sessions to unstress your body as well as bonus mindfulness and regulation practices down below.
Click here or on the image below to enroll for free.
5 Days to More Peace
Take a short audio lesson straight in your inbox. You can sign up here or click below, and get your first one right away.
Regulation Practices that you can do right now, and start to feel better right away
10 Steps to Better Breathing by Waking Up Your Cranial Nerves
Supporting you in these times of stress across the world
Nervous system support for difficult times
We wish you and your loved ones well.
Be safe, stay connected, and loving. All is well – we adapt, we heal, we grow.
Reach out with anything you need. We are both here for you.
Galina and Roland