In this challenging time of COVID-19, we need to nurture our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves.
Physical: Beyond practicing good hygiene, strengthen your immune system.
Exercise 30-minutes daily, to keep your circulation moving and endorphins releasing. Eat nutrient-dense foods such as wild-caught salmon, egg yolks, blueberries, garlic and leafy greens such as kale and spinach versus potato chips and pretzels. Consume antioxidant foods, high in vitamins C and E such as red peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, mangoes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, beans, and lentils, which also contain zinc. Vitamin D levels are boosted by 20 minutes in sunlight or through plant-based milks or supplements.
A crisis can make you want to eat comfort food but we’re in a battle to stay healthy. Avoid foods that create inflammation, such as dairy, processed food, and added sugar, which reduces the ability of white blood cells to fight infection from bacteria and viruses. A teaspoon of sugar destabilizes your immune system for about four to five hours. The average American consumes about 17 teaspoons or more of sugar daily.
Rest and sleep when you can.
Avoid weather conditions that could aggravate your system, such as dampness and cold. There’s validity in what your grandparents said. If you get caught in the rain, change into dry clothes and warm yourself. COVID-19 is a damp lung illness, so drink warming fluids to regulate your body temperature, perhaps adding spices such as cinnamon, ginger or turmeric.
Mental: Become aware of behavioral signs of stress that are observable in both adults and children: Excessive crying or irritability, extreme worry, regression in behaviors already mastered, such as bedwetting, difficulty concentrating, irregular patterns of sleep or eating, physical ailments, and increased use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs.
This list describes most of us at this time of global crisis. We’re all adjusting to massive changes and it’s normal to cycle through many emotions, but if you need help, please call the crisis number below.
In the meantime, here are some things we can do ourselves and with our families:
Breathe. Scan your body for tension and send your breath into those places to release it. Eat mindfully, observing the way your food looks, smells, sounds, tastes, and its textures. Separate what you are and are not in charge of and empower yourself. You can’t control the pandemic, but you can be in charge of your response to it. Create some structure, urge yourself to be productive by accomplishing at least one thing each day, while also being compassionate toward yourself and others. Spend time enjoying a hobby or coloring, puzzles, singing (you can’t hold your breath and sing) walking or playing with your pet. You can put joyful things to do on slips of paper in a jar and pull one daily.
Allow all of your thoughts and then redirect those toward positive action.
Emotional: We’re all finding our way, but adults need to process with other adults.
Don’t discuss your fears with or within earshot of your children. It raises their anxiety. You don’t need to present a false picture but try not to instill fear either.
They take their cues from you so be mindful of what you’re expressing.
Stay focused on the present and go with the flow. Acknowledge what’s challenging and then release it. Repeat as necessary. Don’t scare yourself with dark imaginings.
Use positive self-talk, journal with words or images, and look up Nick Ortner’s Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) videos as an effective method of reducing anxiety by “tapping” on acupuncture points and emotions.
Spiritual: People endured extreme conditions and atrocities during the Holocaust, and many went on to live long and fulfilling lives. We’re being asked to stay inside, with our families. Practice gratitude. Invite Hashem in. We can get through this together.
If you need help, the Georgia Crisis and Access Line is available 24/7, 365, at 1-800-715-4225.
Dr. Terry Segal is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a doctorate in energy medicine. She also writes a regular column for the AJT, New Moon Meditations.