As we go through this trying time of COVID-19, I feel that we are all going back to our roots. We are connecting with others more as well as ourselves. Emotionally, Spiritually, and Physically. We are becoming aware of how important it is to have a clear mind. Mentality is a crazy strong power that we control. It’s very easy to lose control of this in our egocentric world. Spiritually, we have to have faith that this too shall pass and we can fight this. Physically it’s teaching us how important it is to nurture our bodies. We’re reminded of the chemicals and dangers that we have been putting into our world. It’s a stressful and unknown time, but it’s also an eye-opening, self-reflecting time.
Having a hard time staying grounded?
The easiest and cheapest way to get connected to “your roots” and to ground yourself is by exploring nature!
- Plant something: Not everyone has a green thumb so start with easy things. Plant succulents or get a snake or pothos plant. If the frost has passed, plant some wild flowers and easy gardening veggies, like squash and cucumbers. Nourishing and caring for something as a seed and watching it grow gives you so much gratitude as well as confidence in yourself and in working with nature in general. Plus it’s much healthier and cheaper to eat food that you grow vs the chemically-sprayed stuff 😉.
- Forest bathing: Forest bathing is simply “taking in the forest” and is a free way to connect with nature. It has been shown to dramatically change our brain chemicals in positive ways. By consciously connecting with nature, you are able to calm your thoughts and “gerbil mind” to appreciate the little things in nature — things that our great ancestors had and were able to also enjoy. It’s quite amazing when we think about it!
- Plant medicine: Now don’t go around eating random mushrooms; start with common, easy-to-grow or naturally occurring herbs such as rosemary, basil, mint, and dandelions. If you don’t have these options then good grade, safe therapeutic essential oils are great for this. You can ingest them (cook with them) or simply enjoy them topically or with aromatherapy through a diffuser. The simplicity of smelling the aromas of the herbs ignites all our senses. This opens your mind and spirit while allowing you to calm and quiet your thoughts. Find joy in whatever you are doing — eating, massaging, bathing, diffusing — while enjoying the great smells and energy! In Ayurveda, there is a term called “ama,” which translates to toxins and bad energy that build up in your body. By increasing our good vibrations or “prana” (good energy), our minds and moods are boosted. Simply by cooking with herbs, you can remove ama and increase prana, thereby grounding yourself. Being thankful for the nature of it and putting good intentions into your cooking can go a long way! It sounds silly, but it’s free — so why not try it?
- Moon cycles: This is also free! You can spend some time outside stargazing and enjoying the fresh air at night. This is fun while learning and might give you flashbacks to middle school astronomy classes. There are a ton of apps and online resources for this. I use the app Moonology. You can track the moon phases which give off energy and provide so much for us in nature. This practice incorporates the known things — such as the tides, planting, and harvesting — as well as wishes and intuitive stuff that you may or may not be interested in or believe in. Horoscopes also fall in this category, which is a whole science of its own.
The importance of our health during this time
Most of us know how important it is to eat healthy and exercise, but over the years, it’s gotten more complicated when it should be easy! Eat more fruit and veggies, exercise, drink water… Sounds basic, right? We are “going back to basics.” As a society we are learning to garden and make more and more at home, which is great. But no supplement, medication, or food is going to make you a healthier person unless you mentally and physically change your mind and lifestyle. I am guilty of this and have spent endless amounts of money on herbs and vitamins looking for a quick fix, when ultimately I just needed to fix my diet and my gut biome while throwing out all of the junk and preservatives in my pantry that have became common staples in our diets! Check out my last post if you want help transforming your lifestyle into a healthier one.
Sympathetic vs Parasympathetic
I’m not sure if everyone knows the difference, so I’ll explain this in layman’s terms to help you understand the toll that stress places on your body.
- The Sympathetic Nervous System is the “fight-or-flight” part of your body. We too commonly live in a stressed and anxious state these days, especially if you suffer chronic pain like I do. Being in this mode more often than you should messes up your hormones. This is because you are constantly releasing cortisol and causing adrenal fatigue. You are also messing up your gut because you can’t digest properly if your body is always in that “fight-or-flight” mode, leading to nutrient deficiencies or a leaky gut. Simply put, it’s not good on any part of your body. Every single organ and cell is affected by a constant activation of our sympathetic nervous system. How do we turn this off if we’re always so stressed? To start, we need to learn how to turn on our parasympathetic nervous system. If you are thinking, “Oh my — this sounds like me,” then you should first seek medical help as I’m not a doctor. This is just what’s worked for me and is not medical advice.
- The Parasympathetic Nervous System is what we know as the “rest and digest” part of your body. This is the mode that you should be in mainly when your body is balanced. When you become stressed, live in chronic pain, or have bad anxiety, your body becomes sensitive and lingers in the fight-or-flight mode all the time. I learned about this way too late in life, leaving me with tight muscles, bad posture, bad breathing, and worsening pain. If you are falling or have fallen down this path, don’t ignore the warning signs. Luckily, there are free and easy ways to improve:
- Yoga (especially restorative)
- Essential oils
- Diaphragm breathing
- Avoiding multitasking and over-stimulating tasks
Granted, we all work or have kids running around, which almost makes this impossible. Well, this is why self-care was invented and has become such a big part of combating today’s stigma. You can spend an hour on yoga, use oils at work, or even download a meditation app and just give 1% of your day to it. It’s easier than you think. That negative attitude isn’t going to help you get out of that fight-or-flight mode! Heal your body and take some time for yourself. Go back to the basics 😉