Take off your shoes. Wriggle your toes. Press as much of your feet as you can into the ground. Really, truly, FEEL it. Close your eyes and as you breathe in, gently hold the inhale at the very top, for 4…3…2…1. Now breathe out, through your mouth, as slowly as you can. As if you were blowing a feather, or a dandelion clock. Let the shoulders be heavy. Let the fingers be long. Open your eyes.
Quote from a meditation by Luisa Skinner, The Yoga PT
How grounded are you feeling right now?
I’ve been flying around what, in yoga, we would call the ‘upper chakras’, pretty much since this global emergency began. It’s been all daydreams, and meditation, and ‘not quite there-ness’. You know when you feel a little bit like you’re drunk(!), or that you’re sleepwalking? You’re not quite in the room? My thoughts for weeks now have been…scattered. And this can be a symptom of not feeling grounded.
Grounded is truly what we need right now. When we live a little more in our lower chakras, we are focused primarily on our basic survival. We’re talking stability, avoiding immediate danger, keeping ourselves safe, keeping the rest of our family safe. The lower chakras are where our insecurities about our financial future, our homes, our ability to provide and receive food, water, shelter, reside. And from the base, we build up. For without being grounded, without having these primitive needs met, it is incredibly hard to concentrate on anything else.
Poor sleep is the first place my own insecurities and any imbalances show up. Always. If I find myself staring at the ceiling at night, having felt exhausted all day and longed for my bed, and once again found no blissful nothingness of relief, I know I have some work to do. Can you relate?
So this post is just a quickie. A brief once-over for you to take a breath, take stock, decide where you are right now and possibly which of these tips, if any, you could take on-board, as we begin to move through this very sludgy, very messy process of exiting lockdown.
Here are my tips to – if not dissolve the stress – perhaps distract the mind, give it something else to concentrate on rather than the endless bad news, and refocus the soul:
- throw yourself into a morning workout, of a more intense variety (with a warm-up first, try something like a power yoga online class; high-energy Zumba dance around your kitchen, or a HIIT – high intensity interval training – session…you can even try mine(!) by clicking here) and an evening workout designed to wind you down and chill you out beautifully (some gentle yin yoga is perfect), for bedtime. This will mean you give your body-clock the best chance possible at having a reset, should it need it, and maintaining that regularity, at a time when your usual schedule may be out the window. Which leads me onto…
- having a consistent routine. Our bodies and brains LOVE a bit of predictability and that tricksy character, your circadian rhythm, may be a little out of whack right now. Wake up at a similar time every day – get up as soon as you wake up – go to bed with a similar routine every evening (bath/bed/tv whatever floats your boat). Be aware too that your natural wake up time may be an hour or two earlier in summer compared to winter. If it is…go with it. Your body is taking over, and it knows well. Let it lead you. And when you’re up and at ’em in the daytime, even if you don’t feel like it, spend as much of your time as humanly possible, outside…here’s why…
- get yourself outdoors. There’s something about soaking up the sun through your skin, but also joy to be found in whooping and hollering and running for cover when there’s a downpour! The key is doing things that take you out of your own head, and into your body. This is how we come back around to ‘grounding’ again. Nature is the ultimate grounder. Watch the raindrops. Touch the trees. Magic.
- celebrate the good days. Cheer for every small win. Focus on what’s going well for you and your family. If it’s a mind game that’s keeping you awake, or stressing you out, this is the most powerful way to re-write your thinking. Gratitude trumps ego, every time. Being thankful beats wallowing, always. Try it.
- try some natural remedies. Those old wives tales haven’t been around for a hundred years for no reason. Lavender, whilst stopping short of ‘knocking you out’ before bed, can certainly aid some kind of muscle relaxation and release of tension, essential for our bodies to feel safe enough to fall asleep. I love using organic lavender oil mixed with coconut oil and epsom salts, added to my bath water. Mmmmm…perfect for my babies’ bath, too.
- eat well. And if you think you’ve been eating well, eat even better. Lockdown socials have been full of ‘hilarious’ memes describing how, if you haven’t put on 3 stone and now have an alcohol issue, you haven’t been doing lockdown right. Hmmmmmph (slaps forehead with hand). I know I’m unhappy with my own deterioration of my diet – I know I’ve been drinking more wine than makes me feel good, and that I’ve been justifying extra daily biscuits because “we’re in a global emergency!” This does not a happy Lu make, so, things will be changing for June. Less refined sugar, less alcohol, less caffeine, all of which can increase cortisol (cue that racing night time heart beat) and potentially suppress our delicate female hormones – likewise wreaking havoc with our feeling of being in balance. Stressed bodies like more healthy fats, more complex carbohydrates, more flaxseed, more soya, more lean protein, and oodles of vegetables. I’m even running a spontaneous ‘challenge’ for other women to help me, and for me to help them, to stay accountable for our own nutrition, throughout June 2020, which you’re very welcome to join in, here.
- don’t pin all your hopes on your plans. Think about how there are a gazillion perfect coincidences that need to transpire in order to get you, even in the ‘usual’ world, to meet a friend for coffee. Think about it! Indeed, how does anything ever happen?! That seamless tick-tocking of the universe, and all its billions of inhabitants. We are truly within a web. And we have never been more aware of that web, that community, this inter-connection of the people, than right now. Plans can be loose, and maybe they should be more so, after this. And read the following book, if you haven’t already. It’s a gem.
…let’s remember why we say we’ll ‘pencil it in’: because plans can change, and they do, and they have, and they always will; because, quite simply, that is the nature of everything.
Quote by Beth Kempton, ‘We Are In This Together‘, 2020
Above all else, know that this weird situation won’t last. Take courage in the fact that so many have stepped up, and thought outside the box, reconfigured their lives, their businesses, their priorities. We have all felt as though we are balancing on a knife edge…but we are still here, and we are thankful for that, and we count ourselves lucky. A little practice in gratitude for what’s good, together with a sprinkling of the above tips, will go a long way.
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