In the recent turn of seasons, Spring has many people expecting their immune system to be on high alert (cue the pollen!). But this year has found people across our community and world abroad wondering about all the ways we can keep ahead of the widespread panic due to the recent Coronavirus pandemic. I would be remiss if I told you that business was per usual, patients donned nothing but ear to ear smiles this week at the practice, and that the massive influx of news about COVID-19 was creating resounding certainty for our community. What I have witnessed this past month could easily parallel the confusion one might develop if they’ve ever watched a storm passing overhead… in the complete middle of the day, in what appears to be a well-defined single column of the sky… that in a snap, brings sunshine and signs-of-life easily unnoticed before this moment just minutes later.
In fact, that actually happened this past week — I had arrived at the office preparing to serve my afternoon of patients and noticed for a few minutes the clouds moving overhead and showering rainfall over one half of the office building. Minutes later bright sun beamed through the clouds bringing light and reverberating visions of all the colors of the plants and textures I hadn’t perceived often surrounding the office. It could not have brought a clearer vision of what it means to be in the right place at the right time. Have you ever felt called to show up for a bigger purpose, but at the very same time have clouds that create a barrier for fulfilling just that?
I want you to know that as an essential healthcare provider here in California, at the time of writing this amidst the chaos and confusion being created within our community, there is hope. That you are quite possibly being given time to re-center, re-focus, re-assimilate, re-awaken, and re-establish the very core of you. I have found it helpful to create certainty in a time where much is uncertain. You may find your uncertainty from a lack of trust within our governing bodies, a lack of evidence that XYZ can guarantee positive outcomes for your health – or maybe an overwhelming rush of fear for your closest family and friends, or an overwhelming presence of doubt that you have made the right decisions to prepare you for something this great.
It’s not so much the fact that uncertainty exists, just like it’s not merely the presence of a challenge that creates the reaction to such a roadblock. I think you know where I’m going with this, but let’s get one thing straight. I am not here to tell you it’s easy or that my vision for you should be in fact taken to action, my role has always been to encourage you to trust in yourself to know there is a better way. And today, it’s absolutely to inform you about the sustainable ways to strengthen our reactions to stress that will serve the highest version of yourself.
Allow me to drip-drop my thoughts of how to give yourself a proverbial “pat-on-the-back” or “nudge-in-the-side” by incorporating the following practices into your daily routine whether or not you are currently observing a shelter-in-place. My hope is that these pointers find you open to receiving a unique point of view – that’s it. The action part is up to you. If this requires seeking deeper clarification, I’m here as a supportive partner in health for you and your family during these unprecedented times.
In no particular order, here are sustainable ways to build certainty in your health regimen. And maybe we can collectively aim to get a few of these to stick once we’re out of the COVID crisis!
Can you tackle all 10 tips?
Bring intention to how you breathe. It may seem frivolous to wrap your hands gently across your lower neck when you inhale, but try it! If you notice your muscle fibers going into rigid tension, poking outward, and your shoulders rising during a normal inhalation, chances are you are laboring too hard for that one breath. And, likely you aren’t optimizing proper oxygenation exchange through your lungs. Instead try lying face up, aiming to breathe in through the nose and into the belly. Once you’ve done that, let your breath out slowly through the mouth as your belly lowers to the ground. Aim for developing a rhythm over 5-10 minutes straight. Then consciously breathe in this manner throughout your day. This breath strategy from Harvard-trained Dr. Andrew Weil, MD will have you begin to nod off in no time!
Find a reliable method to drink more water. You’ve likely read it by now, and it’s true. Half your body weight in ounces of water per day is required for saturating your insides with what your body needs to function. But wait, you’ll likely need more if you’re exercising. Invest in a glass or stainless steel canteen to track your water intake (no plastic), and it’s more fun if you’re encouraged by it’s bright colored or patterned design. Try to get most of your water consumption between meals and don’t underestimate the power of a healthy 6-8 ounces right upon waking to reward your liver for a night’s worth of cleanup after you’ve slept. If plain water is something you need warming up to, consider the idea of incorporating gel water.
Seek out strategic snacks. Ever wondered why beans are traditionally served with rice? Or macaroni with cheese? Or even hummus with pita bread? It’s the combination of two or more incomplete proteins to make a complete form of protein containing all the essential amino acids to be used by the body. Try getting the already complete proteins such as quinoa, buckwheat, edamame, or pumpkin seeds in today!
Lean into connection in any forms available to you. If you have the privilege to connect through technology, embrace it! Live chatting through apps on your phone, sending emails, using messaging platforms, or sending a text are all ways to engage with even those friends that you haven’t reached out to in ages. This is a perfect time to open up and forget about knowing exactly what you’ll say, but taking the bold step to initiate social connection for the simple purpose of showing you care. If it’s a letter, put pen to paper and don’t get stifled in the pressures of forming the perfect verbiage or remembering the best stories. Perhaps you had something joyous happen to you that someone else can benefit from knowing, or an inspiring story that could provide comfort for someone you care about. Taking initiative doesn’t just benefit the receiver, it creates a sense of accomplishment which stimulates positive internal energy. Who wouldn’t want that?
Build more time for fluidity, not rigidity. This tip is for all the desk-workers, or even newly-acquainted “work-from-homers” that are now adjusting to getting work done in a different environment. Ways to be in motion during work include changing out your chair for options to stand, sitting on an aerobic ball, engaging in breaks every 45 minutes to walk, or get up and dynamically stretch. When we allow the spine to settle into static positions, outside the presence of acute injury, we risk the stasis of important signaling that needs to get back to the brain through cell receptors called proprioceptors located in joints throughout the body.
Avoid throwing fuel on the fire of inflammation. It’s safe to acknowledge that all inflammatory responses aren’t created equal. Some are helpful, and others reside to do more damage over time. Do a purge of the following items from your pantry, refrigerator, and counter top as soon as possible. If you want to create less waste consider using a product in a craft or donating to a neighbor that may want the staple item and may not be choosing to observe your dietary goals at this time. The items that bring immune suppressing qualities are processed sugar, refined cooking oils, corn/soy-fed meats or poultry, artificially colored sauces or condiments, non-organic produce especially those with thin-skins and berries, alcoholic beverages, and energy drinks.
Be solution-oriented if you’re facing fear of any sort. There are endless ways to solve a puzzle. If you’re facing a puzzling time and don’t know how to react in the most graceful of manners to yourself or someone else, one way is to seek logical resolution. Make a list – in your head or on paper or over conversation with a trusted source. I’ve often found that much blame is given through statements of “it’s all in my head”, which can put us feeling out of our own control. For non-medically prioritized situations that may warrant the help of a mental health professional, you have an opportunity to choose vessels of information that provide love, not fear. For some this could take minutes to pause and reason to a better route of handling their emotions and for some it takes weeks and months. The best thing is to take inventory periodically, and if you’re home during this pandemic perhaps you have that time to evaluate what might be “revving” up your internal thermostat to unhealthy levels. Letting go of unnecessary stress is always available to you.
Establish better balance within your nervous system. If it were possible to recreate the exact effects of a chiropractic adjustment to you from simply reading this, believe me I’d be the first to line up! But, that’s not possible and when you’ve been under specific chiropractic care you know why from the way you get off the table (in due time) and have an increased perception of the connection within your body. Of perhaps a sense of stillness after enduring chronic conscious or unconscious stress patterns, or a sense of availability in motion or discerning stimuli to areas the body has repressed due to physical, chemical, or emotional fatigue for years. Or perhaps none of the above — maybe for you it’s knowing that the nervous system comes first to coordinating life and by stimulating it you spark proper nerve connection to the digestive, cardiovascular, immune, respiratory, endocrine, and reproductive system to name a few. With the care I proudly provide, you’ll know what is happening and never be faced with embarking on treatment that you don’t feel completely comfortable with.
Find an outlet to offer energy & space for others. Your ability to hold presence for yourself gives you increased reserve to show outward assistance for your community, large or small! When you’ve come up dry with ways to fill your day, wouldn’t it be encouraging to deliver groceries to a neighbor, fill up someone’s gas tank, pass out meals at a local food bank, donate blood, buy a gift-card for future use at a restaurant in risk of closure, do yard-work for a stranger, or offer to walk a neighbor’s dog? If you aren’t physically able, a surprise check-in phone call to a friend might mean just as much.
Cast a goal to stretch your comfort zone. Here’s the way to look forward, the first step is not drawing a hard line in the sand. Get rid of the line, the one that holds you back from trying something new. One way to literally build more connections in our brain is through creating lasting memories. I can almost guarantee that developing a plan for trying something new will create a memory, hopefully it’ll be a positive one you’ll share years to come! Can’t get creative – try an intimidating workout class or post that blog you never thought you could. The point here is to make it individualized to you, not anyone else! Only you know where your line lies.