I’m Karen, the therapist at The Carlton. I wanted to write this blog to help people to feel more relaxed and provide some useful self-care tips to keep yourself well and healthy during this time.
During the first part of lockdown, I found myself glued to the news and all forms of media, sometimes not moving much at all during the course of the day. My mind was racing continuously and my body started to feel extremely uncomfortable especially my shoulders where I had been holding tension. I also started to notice my jaw aching and thought I had toothache until I realised the pain was moving from tooth to tooth. Stress can have a huge impact on our bodies as well as our minds so it is vital to find ways which help us and our families to cope.
I decided to start my day differently and this is what I would recommend for yourself and your family. So rather than reaching for your phone first thing and bombarding yourself with the information, I would take a moment just to wake up. This can be done as a type of meditation which you can also talk your children through.
So once you are awake but still lying in bed just take a moment to notice your body. You can start by noticing your breathing coming in and out through your nostrils. Notice your breath flowing to your lungs, feeling your ribs expanding with each in-breath you take. Making the breathes deep, slow and controlled, also become aware of your belly rising towards the ceiling. Taking your time to notice there is a short pause between breathing in and breathing out. Also noticing your body as you breathe out, allowing you belly button to fall towards your spine and your ribs soften. Breathing in deeply and as you slowly release the breath allow your body to soften also.
Repeated deep breaths will naturally bring your heart rate more in sync with your breath. This leads your brain to release endorphins, which are chemicals that have a natural calming effect on your mind and body.
You can do this for a minute, 10 minutes or as long as you feel is good for you. And it can be done at any point during the day. If you notice you are feeling anxious you will also notice your breathing is most probably quite shallow so deepening the breathing and bringing your attention to it will help to keep you calm.
Once you feel ready to move start to slowly stretch out your body, moving in ways which feel good to you. Stretching your left side and right side and slowly coming up to sitting and placing both feet on the floor. Allow your body to fold forward, resting the weight of your torso on your thighs, allowing your head to relax down towards the floor, take a few moments here and continue to notice your breathing. This will allow your lower back and spine the space it needs to stretch out and wake up. Slowly shift your weight onto your feet with your knees bent, taking a moment in a forward fold position before slowly un-curling your spine to a standing position. From here you might like to do some more stretches, moving your spine in different directions, making circles with your wrists, ankles and neck.
Although all the technology we have today can bring anxiety we are also very lucky to have so much information at our fingertips so making use of this will help us to get through, finding information which will benefit our health and wellbeing. Using search engines we can find meditations, exercises, yoga, activities, healthy food tips to keep our immune systems working well and massage techniques we can share with our isolation family.
All of this will help keep our minds and bodies healthy and happy.