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March 26, 2020
With our worlds turned upside down, we are all trying to come to terms with our new, and hopefully short term reality. Being stuck at home, glued to our phones and consuming as much news as possible, our anxiety is at peak levels. These difficult times call for calm and some form of tranquility - however fleeting, however temporary. All forms of calm are welcome.
For some time we have been wanting to reach out to our good friend Monia and no time is better than the present. Monia is a passionate, "glass half-full" life coach and yoga instructor with a demeanor that exudes serenity. If anyone could provide us with some wellness tips on how to manage the pressure of coronavirus and being confined to our homes, it would be her.
Great question, its funny but almost a month before all this started, I was seeking “time for myself” and I read Robin Sharma’s “The 5am club” which is based on a revolutionary morning routine that has helped me upgrade my feeling for aliveness, productivity, happiness and gave me access to “ me time”. So that's what I do, I wake up at least 1 hour before everyone else wakes up, I write in my journal, do some yoga, some breathing, or even just sit on the couch and look up the wall! I do what I really feel and what my body needs each day. Then I drink water with some lemon juice which helps with digestion, flushes out toxins and supports your immune system. Finally, I enjoy my coffee looking at the view from my window, just observing and noticing - without looking at my phone! This is so important. I have a rule not to look at the news, or emails, or any social media before 8 am. Especially these days with all that's going on, I find it very helpful. This way the mind can focus on the “now” without worrying about what happened yesterday or what might happen in the future.
Later in the day when the kids nap or when there is some down-time, I have another hour to myself to answer emails, or have some zoom/skype calls.
It is up to us to make our own schedule now that everyone is together at home. Structure is important, so writing down what you plan to do for the day for yourself and with the kids/family sets expectations for the day. My advice is not to just let the day unfold - plan it and also make peace with the new way of life.
The coronavirus is a real outbreak and deserves appropriate attention. However, the more you stress, the more you decrease your immune system from functioning, making you more susceptible to viruses. You can take the necessary precautions to decrease your chances of exposure and keep your mind, body, and spirit in optimal condition. There are many things you can do to stay healthy and support your body’s ability to fend off illness.
This is my small contribution:
1. Do things that support your bones and lymphatic system through the centuries old practice of qigong. Your lymphatic system picks up invasive proteins and bacteria, and flushes them out of the body. The lymphatic system does not have a pump, it therefore requires deep, diaphragmatic breathing as well as active shaking and jiggling to pump it and optimise its function. And why focus on your bones? Your bone marrow produces immune cells, which is why your body and bones often ache when you’re sick. Try Wild Horse Shaking, a qigong technique to help support your lymph and bones. To do Wild Horse Shaking at home, let the body gently shake for 5-10 minutes. Keep your heels on the ground and your hands relaxed. Let the resistant parts shake loose, especially around the jaw, base of the skull and chest. Put your favourite song on!
2. One of the main practices that brings me inner peace is mindfulness. Mindfulness simply put, is present moment awareness. When we are mindful, we are present with what we are doing or the person we are with allowing us to shift away from automatic states of distraction or thoughts of the past and future. When we live mindfully, we observe without judgement, engage fully with the present and live in the moment. A simple example, in the morning, when I brush my teeth I don't think “oh I have to rush to check my phone”, or think of something else. I am brushing mindfully.
3. Meditation is also immensely beneficial and can be done anywhere and at any time. Sit up tall, cross your legs, relax your shoulders, keep a gentle smile and close your eyes. Breathe. Inhale through the nose on a count of 4 (1,2,3,4) then hold, exhale through the mouth, let it all go. Repeat 10 times. Sit in silence, observe your thoughts without judgement, be still. If thoughts pass by, accept them for what they are and let them pass like clouds.
Meditating or practising mindfulness has immense benefits for your health. Make it a priority, even if it’s only for 5 minutes a day.
4. Practising gratitude: this is a very powerful technique. Every day either early in the morning or just before you sleep - write down in a journal (which can be your gratitude journal) 3 things that you are grateful for. This way you really will appreciate what you have.
5. Yoga: I will not talk a lot about the benefits of yoga - but it definitely reduces anxiety. There are so many free online yoga classes these days - please try one!
6. I know it sounds simple, but I cannot overemphasise the importance of getting enough sleep!
Do you have a motto/mantra and how does it help you throughout the day?
We cannot always control everything that happens to us in this life, but we can control how we respond.” ~Lionel Kendrick
When I stress or panic I remember the above quote, because there is nothing we can do apart from taking care of ourselves and our family.
For those out there that see only bleakness at this time, do you have any tips to help them visualise a brighter future where everything will be ok?
Goal Setting is very powerful. Goals can be big or small. Long term of short term. Goals need to be SMART.
Specific: means ensuring your goals are clear and detailed. Ask yourself “why do I want to achieve this goal” ?
Measurable: It's essential to measure your goal so you know when you have achieved it.
Relevant: If a goal is relevant it's meaningful to you. Set goals that give you a sense of purpose and motivate you.
Timely: Give yourself a time frame. By when do you want to achieve your goal?
Always remember that in life things happen and some goals might be delayed. This doesn’t mean you should give up on them, they are just postponed to a future date.
Take some time to visualise and write down 10 goals you wish to achieve this year in all areas of your life including your career, your family, your health, and your growth. Here are a couple of questions to consider: What do you see? What do you feel? Where do you live? Let your imagination run and write everything down in all details.
And here I would like to share this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams”.
At this point I would like again to go back to the practice of gratitude. There are people in this world that are unable to physically go for a walk, so for those people that see the dark side these days please try to practice gratitude and focus on things that you might take for granted :-)
For family members that live far away, like your children's grandparents, do you do anything special to get them involved into the children's lives a bit more?
We call both the grandparents at least once a day and involve them in the activities the kids do, we are lucky that nowadays we have technology and we are able to do this.
We both have our kids at home. When things get absolutely crazy, what calming techniques do you use?
Stepping away and breathing. A book that helped me a lot is the “Montessori toddler”. Using essential oils, like lavender is also very calming.
I am sure you have found time to cook a little more these past days. What foods can you recommend that are not only tasty but also good for our immunity?
Eat fresh veggies and soups, drink orange juice, add cinnamon and ginger where possible!
Cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory that helps support the immune system and ginger has strong antibacterial properties. Ginger has a fruity, warming sharpness. The spiciness can be softened a little by adding honey and lemon or orange. Here is a good ginger shot recipe to try at home:
1 Peel the ginger and cut it into small cubes.
2 Squeeze the lemons and add the juice to the ginger cubes in a tall container.
3 Add honey, sugar or maple syrup according to personal taste and puree everything with by hand or high-performance mixer to an even mass. Add turmeric powder.
4 If you would like your ginger shots to be a little more fluid, filter the ginger juice through a sieve and add a little more water if necessary.
5 Stored in a small screw cap bottle in the fridge the ginger juice stays fresh for about a week.
Tip: Make an extra big batch and freeze the shots in an ice cube tray to use as needed.
Also, a homemade pizza once a week - brings happiness to all!!!!
Finally stay under the sun for at least 30 minutes per day as it helps boost our immunity. If you are unable to do this take a Vitamin D supplement.
What will be the first trip you take when all this passes?
It will be to Greece. Only the thought of being close to the big blue makes me so happy!
Monia concludes with this: “Enjoy the little things -be in the moment as much as you can and be mindful of your emotions as this too shall pass.”
Thank you Monia for sharing your ideas (and recipes) with us!
June 10, 2021