Dear Ones, how things have changed since my last blog post! Jon and I were mid-move into our new house when I got the call that my sister had gone into labor. We had been planning on me being present for the birth, so I hopped on a plane to the Twin Cities. My amazing niece was born on Friday the 13th (gotta love that!), just as all Corona hell was breaking loose around the world. Her birth may just have been the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed!
I got back to New Mexico just in time to be hit with a cold (it’s sooo scary to get a simple illness right now) and temporarily laid off from my brewery job. A few days later came the shelter in place order in my state, and a week later… here I am! And here are some of the lessons that have emerged already from this global pandemic. Who knows how things will change in another week or a month, but let’s keep sharing the lessons as they come through, and I think we’ll get to the other side of this thing a little wiser. Here are my lessons learned (so far) from turning my pandemic anxiety into nourishing self-care:
Soak up the sunlight. Being inside all day is a huge bummer for this spring-loving extrovert. I had to cancel my Mexico birthday vacation because of the pandemic, and now am resigned to watch the beautiful Albuquerque spring erupt outside my windows. I recently took to sitting in a patch of direct sunlight for 20-30 minutes each day, around lunch time. Sometimes I sit in stillness, sometimes I eat, sometimes I read, or even work on my laptop if I have to. Just factoring in these few minutes a day in the sun has drastically improved my mood! Don’t avoid the sun just because you’re quarantined. Get out for a walk, lie in the grass if you can, or at least continue working from home in a patch of sunlight like me. It feels SO good.
Track your cycle, if applicable. Have I already told y’all about Claire Baker‘s menstrual cycle awareness work? Literally changed my life. She recorded her blog post, Periods & Pandemics as an audio track you can listen to here. In it, she covers the 4 S’s of your cycle: Start in the spring (week following the bleed), Serve in the summer (ovulation time), Slow & Soothe in the autumn (pre-menstrual phase), & Surrender in the winter (the bleeding times). While listening to her, I realized I had totally lost track of my cycle with all the upheaval. I was shocked to realize I was on day 25 – for me, the liminal space between my inner summer & inner autumn. It was a wonderful reminder that it’s okay to slow down and let the to do lists go right now.
Layer on the luxury. Whether it’s a spa day at home or getting more sleep, use this time to really drench yourself in whatever feels luxurious. I don’t know about y’all, but my sleep has been hella disrupted, and I blame COVID. Ok, it actually started before the pandemic escalated – back when Jon and I began our move into the new house. I always have trouble adjusting to a new bedroom. Now that I’ve got my blackout curtains up and new bedding ordered, it’s slowly starting to feel like ours. My new bedtime routine is hopping in bed with the cat to read a bit, then self-massage with lavender-infused olive oil, followed by the Roots of Lore podcast. In this fantastic audio treat, host Caitlin Brehm, with the help of folklore experts, tells fascinating and soothing stories – including myths and fairy tales. It’s so good, I had forgotten how relaxing listening to stories can be just before bed. Why do we ever stop, just because we’ve grown up? No more. Listen to it here or anywhere you get your podcasts.
Ramp up the self-care practices. In every day life, I am longing to extend my morning yoga and meditation practice longer. Since putting on my makeup and commuting have been cut from my day, I can finally make it happen! I’ve been following an Ekhart Yoga program called 21 Mornings With Yoga, and love it. Plus I’ve expanded my formal meditation practice from around 5 minutes to 25 minutes per day. The benefits are immeasurable. Just a week ago I was feeling the heavy weight of depression coming on. Today I am feeling much lighter and more spacious – and I know it’s all because of those longer periods of sitting in stillness.
Challenge yourself. I know – you’re already being challenged in new and unusual ways. But, bear with me – challenging yourself is a way to take back some of that lost sense of control. I chose to really go for it with my exercise schedule. I was already the queen of in-home workouts, pre-Corona. I haven’t paid for a gym or a fitness class in a little over a year. But when COVID-19 forced me indoors, and I saw I had already watched every free class on Pop Sugar TV, I began digging around online for other options. I happily stumbled upon this list of the Best In-Home Workout Streaming Services To Try During COVID-19 & have been working my way through the free trials. Don’t judge me – if one sticks I will even shell out the $20/month or so. And I’d recommend you keep supporting your local yoga or fitness studios if they have online streaming options. But if you’re not already connected to one, you might join me in trying these options. Or challenge yourself in whatever way feels right. I find a little challenge inspiring and energizing. Right now, it’s helping me break up the monotony of my days at home.
Set boundaries around your newfound COVID-19 coping attachments. Around day 5 of my self-quarantine, I noticed I was reaching for my stash of Easter candy daily… sometimes multiple times a day. I could feel an addiction forming and taking hold. I threw those jelly beans in the trash, y’all. They were making me feel sick and I noticed I couldn’t stop once I started. In fact, I made a commitment to cut out processed sugar for the time being. If you notice you’re craving more of something right now, that’s completely normal. Really pause and reflect on how much more of that thing you’re going to allow into your life. It’s okay if you’re not ready to set boundaries around it. It’s okay if you want to challenge yourself by cutting it out completely. Maybe you just want to set the goal of being more mindful around your consumption in general – of the News, Instagram, Netflix, carbs, alcohol… all of the above…
Make meaning out of chaos. If you’re a witchy person like me, you are an organizer of chaos. Witches are not evil – they are magical womxn who harness their power for creativity, healing, and meaning making. (I highly recommend the book The Witch in Every Woman for more on the topic.) Harness that power within yourself and create rituals while you stay home. A ritual is a way of making your inner experience external, it can be shared with your shelter-in-place mates or on Zoom, or it can be private. You can plan it before you begin, or you can make it up as you go. For a starting point, I recommend lighting some candles, turning off the lights, removing all distractions, gazing at the moon or sitting in silence. Keep some props handy – your journal, some incense, scraps of paper to write intentions for burning, feathers or stones collected from your walk that hold special meaning for you, your fav Oracle deck or books of poetry to read from. State your intention aloud and do what you feel led to do next.
Strategize your news intake. I know I already mentioned setting boundaries around your COVID coping mechanisms. But the news feels… different. I know many people over-consume news as a response to stress, but I tend to shut it out in an effort to make myself feel better. As an empath, I really feel it all sometimes and have to lie down after reading one headline. But, as a person who wants to have a wise, compassionate response to this global crisis, shutting out information feels just as wrong to me as spreading harmful misinformation. I decided to set an intention early on, that I would check the news no more than twice a day, never before my morning meditation practice, usually aiming for one 20-minute reading session around midday. Sometimes, when Jon wants to discuss the news right as I’m beginning to wind down for the day, I have to ask him if we can table it. Other times, I’m open to it and am able to hold space for what is on his mind. It’s a balancing act, and we both try to not infuse the conversation with too many emotions or triggers.
Keep the expectations in check. Part of me is really glad I had just moved into a new house when this pandemic hit. My mind has plenty to play with as I clean, unpack, organize, decorate… and yet. Those same sky-high expectations I’ve always had rush in to fill the space they are given. Do you ever notice that? Whereas before, I had maybe 1 day a week to work on my list of projects, now I have days to potentially give them. My mind runs rampant with the possibilities of all I can GET DONE during this time. And then I inevitably feel guilty for falling short and for needing even more rest and self-care during this difficult time. So, if you’re in the same boat, extend yourself compassion (per usual), and let go of 87% of those expectations. 🙂 You’re still human. If you’re like me, you still have a menstrual cycle to plan by. You’re still are affected by the cycles of the moon, where your Spirit guides are leading you, and what is revealed to you in your dreams. Humble yourself to the ways you’re not in control. Which brings me to my next point…
Allow the lessons of this season to flow through you. Whether you will transform those lessons into content, art, a conversation topic with a friend (or therapist), or just keep them to yourself for now. Never underestimate the soil that’s being prepared, the seeds that are being planted, what future harvest you will be reaping from this season. Be patient with yourself and trust. For me, so many metaphors abound right now! The more space that is created (and that I don’t fill with with noise), the more wisdom comes through. Seize this opportunity to learn even more about yourself and what it means to be human.
Dear Ones, I’d love to hear from you: How are you coping during these Pandemic times? What have you noticed coming up for you as coping strategies? Do you plan to try any of the above? Let me know in the comments below!
Wishing you all wisdom and compassion during these times. May all beings everywhere be safe, be healed, and know peace.