Self-Care and Stress Relief – Rev. Harry Disher
Our cleaning lady phoned last week. She told us that she has chosen to self-isolate and keep social distance, so she would not be coming around. She then gave us instructions on what to do.
This is just one sample of hundreds, perhaps thousands of light-hearted email messages that can help us find relief, even some sanity, during these bizarre and troubling times. The stressors are real and so self-care and stress management are important as we practice self-isolation and social distancing. Barb Duffin has sent out some tips on practising mindfulness. Others have circulated ponderings and helpful thoughts they have received from friends or family members. If you have access to the Internet there are multiple free online meditations, such as those hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra.
Here are a few other options you might find useful.
Dancing with Fear
In unsettling and uncertain times such as the one we are now caught up in, just be aware that our brains are hard-wired to sense and react to danger, that having fear and anxiety is normal. Stress can compound our response by triggering only negative reactions and increasing felt tension. By remembering that our brains are wired to become defensive, we can free ourselves from the limited perceptions and open ourselves to more balanced responses. Take some deep breathes. Recognize any fear or anxiety that rises to our consciousness in a non-judgmental way. Accept them as normal thought patterns without getting overwhelmed or carried away by them.
- Stand before the sink and set an intention the bring your full attention to washing your hands.
- Engage all your senses. Notice the colours of the faucets, sink, countertop. Feel the smoothness of the faucet and taps as you turn on the water. Feel your feet connected to the floor. Relish the feel of running water on yours hands and the scent of the soap. Take time to bathe each finger, your palms, the backs of your hands, your wrists. Enjoy it as an immersion experience.
- When you have finished, turn the tap off slowly, towel dry slowly with care. Take a deep breath. Offer gratitude.
Responding to the News
Our daily news about this pandemic is constantly fluctuating and updating. News is like that. We are receiving a barrage of various triggers. There is a difference between reacting and responding. Again, under stress, there is a tendency to shift into auto-pilot and lock into the fear gear with a knee-jerk reaction. Responding instead of reacting creates gap space and shifts the focus to the front of our brains where we can be more reflective.
So if we are watching to or listening to the news; get comfortable and grounded where you sit. Feet on floor. Breathe. Become aware of your body, where it meets the chair, etc. As you listen to the broadcast, again create a little gap (two seconds is often enough) where you notice what emotions you are experiencing. Own them. Consider, what do I need to help me with this? What might be a prayer you would offer; e.g,,“God, help settle me down”; “God, be with those who are suffering” ….? Who can you share your feeling with in a non knee-jerk way?
It is also okay to give yourself a break from tuning into the news. And … if you do, be choosy. Select reliable sources like World Health Organization or Health Canada. Compare what they say with what the TV and radio media are offering up. https://maplegroveunitedchurch.org/current-info-on-covid-19/