Looking After Yourself (and others) in Lockdown

Posted on: August 5, 2020, by :

When the second period of COVID19 lockdown was announced, I experienced a deep sense of disappointment. I had dealt well with the first period of isolation, had actually enjoyed some aspects of it, but this felt different – perhaps more serious, more inconvenient, even unfair – and it evoked a sadness in me that took me by surprise. Even more surprising was the recognition over the ensuing couple of days that this sadness was having a physical outworking as I experienced an unusual lethargy and some frustration over niggling health issues. How did the announcement impact on you, I wonder?

It’s neither surprising nor inappropriate to feel disappointed, sad or frustrated in the situation we are facing. On top of the concerns about the health impacts of a virus like this one, COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. All of the things we’re used to doing each week — going to school or work, catching up with friends and family, going out for dinner, playing sport, going on holidays — have changed. Many people have lost their jobs and there is uncertainty about how COVID-19 will affect the economy into the future. Under these circumstances, it’s normal to feel anxious, overwhelmed, confused, sad or even bored. But these feelings can take their toll, and we all need to take the time to care for ourselves and to look out for our friends, family and colleagues.

There are things you can do to look after yourself and address those feelings of sadness in this lockdown period. The Health Department’s website is a great source of ideas and resources.

And there’s ample research evidence to suggest that the practice of mindfulness or mediation promotes health and wellbeing – just 10 minutes of mediation a day can help to calm the mind, clarify thought processes, ease anxiety, promote cardiac health and more.  In the context of Lockdown 2, a period of meditation each day may help you survive the isolation!  Here’s a very simple meditation technique that you might like to try at home:

  • Find a place where you can be comfortable but aware (this could be sitting, lying or standing, it could be indoors or outdoors. Some people find it helpful to go to the same place each day – it can help to create the ‘meditation mindset’.)
  • Hold your posture in a relaxed but supported manner (be aware of the seat or the floor as it supports your body, keep your back straight and your chin up, hands resting on your thighs or resting by your side, eyes open or closed according to your preference.)
  • Take three deep breaths (feel your chest rise, your diaphragm moving)
  • Settle into your normal rhythm of breathing (don’t force your breath, just let it come and go, be aware of the air as it enters and leaves your body, notice how it feels in your nostrils, your throat, your lungs … …)
  • Continue this breathing rhythm for a few minutes (notice any thoughts that come into your mind but let them and return your focus to the breath as it enters and leaves your body.)
  • Now imagine that as you breathe in, the air is drawn into the various parts of your body: breathe into your toes and your ankles and feel how the air relaxes them as it reaches them.
  • As you breathe out, release any tension or aches you might be carrying in your toes or ankles: feel it being released from the area with each exhale.
  • Repeat this inhale/exhale rhythm through each part of your body: the calf muscles, the thighs, the abdomen, the chest, the fingers, arms, shoulders, neck, face and scalp, until every part of your body has been breathed into and any tension breathed away.
  • Continue this rhythm as you breathe in peace and breathe out stress.
  • When you are ready, gently return to the present space by wiggling your fingers and toes, taking a deep breath, and resuming your day with a lightness in your step and a smile in your heart.

David Brooker

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