Self-care while in quarantine
On some level, we have all been deeply impacted by the events and circumstances over the past month and a half. During periods of stress, the tendency may be to revert to behaviors that do not serve us. Now more than ever, during (and despite) whatever challenges this quarantine situation may present, it is critically important to focus on self-care.
In my experience, when things feel out of control or self-care hasn’t been a priority, one of the optimal strategies that can be employed is to go back to the basics:
Letting go of perfection: This one may be obvious (and equally difficult!), but it is worth reinforcing. There is simply no such thing as perfect. There is no perfect diet, workout regimen, set of habits, or any other < fill in the blank >. Sometimes, all we can ask of ourselves is just to show up and do our best. And it is quite possible that his is going to look different on a day-to-day basis. They key is allowing for self-compassion and knowing that, in the very next moment, we can reset.
Movement: One of the benefits of this situation is that there are so many classes available online (and many are free!). Classes are a good way to stay motivated while connecting with others. It may also present the opportunity to try a new challenge or workout!
As we embark upon spring, going for a walk or run outside is a great option. If you are a parent or caregiver and don’t have this option, just playing or running around with your loved ones could be beneficial.
If you are struggling with finding time to move your body, I’d suggest starting small and simple. Before kids, I would dedicate hours to moving each week. Nowadays, 10-15 minute spurts can often do the trick.
Nature (getting outdoors): Due to being sheltered in place, some of us may be lacking motivation to get outside. Being outside and connecting with nature can be nourishing in so many respects. A simple trail hike, walk in the woods, or jaunt around the neighborhood can be incredibly beneficial, both physically and mentally.
Breathing: The breath is an invaluable gift, and the one thing that is always available to us. Breathing deeply and purposefully can be both calming and invigorating.
Hydration: Water is essential, as it makes up two-thirds of our body and about 90% of our brain. Staying well hydrated has innumerable benefits, not the least of which are health and sanity. A general rule of thumb is to take your body weight in pounds, divide it in half, and drink that amount in ounces of water on a daily basis. So, if you are 120 pounds, drinking 60 ounces daily is a baseline recommendation. Exercise and other physical activity are important considerations and will necessitate drinking more. Starting the morning off with a large glass of warm lemon water is a great start.
Chewing your food: Taking the time to sit down and enjoy a meal is a frequently overlooked element of self-care. As an essential step for proper digestion, it is important to ensure that we are chewing our food fully before swallowing. Digestion starts with the production of enzymes (via saliva) in our mouths when we see and smell food. When we fully chew our food, it maximizes the production and effectiveness of these enzymes in our saliva and digestive tract – creating the conditions for proper digestion. Try chewing your food for 15-20 bites.
Sleeping: A restful, consistent night’s sleep is something that I’ve sometimes found evasive over the past several years (and I suspect may be the case for some of you). Having young children, it seems that my sleep is often interrupted. However, there are certain things that can be done to put oneself in a position to get the best night’s sleep possible. A general recommendation for adults is to get 7-8 hours of quality, restful sleep per night. Some good suggestions for a pre-bedtime routine: establish a consistent (and perhaps earlier) bedtime, stop eating two hours before bedtime, and turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime. I find, in the event that I have not had a good night of rest, it is helpful to be gentler toward myself and any expectations for the following day. I also try to be mindful of not turning to things like excess caffeine, sweet food, and other distractions to compensate.
Eating more fermented foods and probiotics: I find that many of my clients are not familiar with fermented foods or probiotics and the incredible benefits they provide. Probiotics – a fancy word for “good bacteria” – help create balance in your digestive tract (or “gut”) in order for it to carry out its many functions. By adding probiotic rich foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, miso, yogurt and kombucha into your diet, you’ll strengthen your body’s ability to produce serotonin – the feel good hormone. Serotonin is produced in large amounts in the gut. However, when our gut bacteria isn’t healthy and balanced, our bodies have a hard time producing serotonin and transporting it to our brain. The gut is often referred to as the second brain and for good reason. A balanced, probiotic-rich gut create the conditions necessary to produce hormones that flood the brain with positive feelings.
Eating clean: This may look a little different for everyone. Steering away from processed food and sugar (things many crave when stress is high) will help reduce inflammation and boost the body’s immune system. If a diet change seems overwhelming, start small. Sticking to a diet that consists primarily of fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, and seeds is a good foundation. Keep experimenting and adding / trying new things; stick with what works, and move on from what does not.
Here is an example of what a clean eating day has to offer:
IN THE MORNING
Drink a large glass of lemon water (even before coffee).
SPINACH SCRAMBLE WITH AVOCADO
· 1 tablespoon coconut oil
· 1 cup spinach
· 2 eggs, whisked
· 1 avocado, sliced
· Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Add coconut oil to a small pan over medium heat. Add spinach and stir until wilted (about 3 minutes). Stir in whisked eggs and stir until done. Serve with sliced avocado. Top with sea salt and black pepper before serving.
(Makes 1 serving)
MASSAGED KALE WITH APPLE
● 4 cups kale, thinly sliced
● 1 cup parsley, chopped
● 1 large lemon, juiced
● 1 avocado, chopped
● 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
● 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
● 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
● 1 large apple, chopped
● 1/4 cup carrots, shredded
Suggested toppings: pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries
Add kale, parsley, lemon juice, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper to a large bowl.
Massage the kale and other ingredients with clean hands. The kale should turn a bright green and become softer. Massage until well incorporated.
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add your chopped apple and shredded carrots to the kale mixture.
Toss and top with pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries if desired.
QUINOA & ASPARAGUS RISOTTO (Makes 2 servings)
● 1 cup quinoa
● 1 cup light coconut milk
● 1 cup asparagus, chopped
● 1/2 red pepper, chopped
● Juice of 1 lemon
● Pinch of cayenne
● 1/2 teaspoon thyme
● Sea salt, to taste
Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Once cooked, start adding the coconut milk to it, 1/4 of a cup at a time, stirring until the quinoa soaks it all up. You may not need the full cup.
Meanwhile, steam your asparagus and red pepper. When those are tender, add them to the quinoa and coconut milk. Stir in the lemon juice, thyme, cayenne, and salt.
Getting hungry between meals? Here are some of my favorite clean eating snacks:
● 10 almonds
● 15 walnuts
● 1 apple
● 1 pear
● Celery or carrots with hummus
● Flax crackers with 2 tablespoons almond butter
● Another quick pick-me up is a green juice, which alkalizes your body
If you are interested in learning how a health coach can help meet your goals, please contact me for a free 20 minute discovery call. https://www.pineislandwellness.com/contact