By Jen Buettner, R.N, B.S.N, R.Y.T
Like many, I find myself at a time where I have lost control of a routine schedule and my normal daily connections with friends, family and my various communities. As a result of the COVID pandemic, these are unprecedented times that force us to have to dig deep into our tool box to find methods that allow us to slow down our anxious minds and bodies. There are many tools that help us let go of what we cannot control, and find ways to positively control what we can in our own world. The shifting landscape creates stress and anxiety that we all can identify with and it is our “fight or flight” (autonomic nervous system) that will allow us to fight not only the COVID virus, but also the negative thoughts that enter our mind. A good example of a negative thought may be, “we are stuck at home for an indefinite amount of time and I am going to go stir crazy.” Perhaps we can shift our perspective to be more positive, “we are staying at home for the greater good to keep everyone safe, and I will continue to adapt.”
The fear of the unknown can be overwhelming, and the first step to dealing with the associated anxiety is to breathe deeply, pause, and acknowledge the feeling. Second, reflecting on and recognizing what increases anxiety or, alternatively, what helps decrease anxiety can help identify what might work as a solution. Lastly, be proactive in finding a way to help alleviate the stress and anxiety. Personally, I have to disconnect from news media and comfort myself with calming rituals. Painting, learning to cook with my family, and running outside in nature are some of the tools in my toolbox. Most often I use yoga to help relieve stress and more specifically, yoga nidra as of late.
Yoga nidra helps me create calm and space in my mind and body to adapt to the new normal of our world. The practice of yoga nidra is a systematic form of guided relaxation typically lasting 35 to 40 minutes that can often bring immediate physical benefits, such as reduced stress and better sleep. Additionally, it’s practice can potentially heal psychological wounds at all conscious levels. In the yoga journal, the author explains in a typical yoga nidra session, an instructor guides the practitioner through stages. The first stage starts with identifying an intention for your life and for the day’s practice. In the second stage, focus is on awareness of breath, bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Throughout the practice, tapping into an underlying sense of peace that is always present is encouraged as is cultivating “witness consciousness, “which involves observing and welcoming whatever is present without getting caught up in it.
While at home, I recommend trying a yoga nidra at the end of the day when you want to wind down to go to bed. The articles that I included in the blog sums up that yoga nidra is an approachable technique with a history of being used to reduce sleep onset latency.
Elizabeth Kübler- Ross developed a 5-stage model of grief, DABDA, and yes, I am equating this to the current events in our lives. I know this may sound sad and morbid; but it helps to explain the feelings that one goes through during this time with the loss of our old existence. The stages of DABDA include:
- Denial that can also be like shock and numbness,
- Anger that led to yearning and searching,
- Bargaining and disorganization
- Depression and despair
- Acceptance leading to reorganization and recovery.
People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order, or experience all of them. Personally, I feel like I am at the beginning of stage 5; Acceptance of the new normal way of life and my need to reorganize my priorities to maintain a healthy state of mind. I also feel better by noticing mini victories throughout the day. We can be grateful every day by finding a silver lining and creating a sense of accomplishment with the mini victories. For example; a mini victory can be as simple as being able to run on a sunny day, having a successful day of e-learning with your kids, or a successful zoom call! If you feel like you are in any stages of grief, yoga nidra can help you cope and move into the stage of acceptance, reorganization, and recovery of the self.
As I have found yoga nidra as a tool during this time, I wanted to share it with you to enable you to find your own personal tools to maintain a healthy state of mind as we shift to an acceptance of our new normal. We can hold on to those mini victories to maintain yourself in the stage of acceptance. I have found that yoga, meditation, and finding silver lining is a daily practice. As my own personal mantra which I wrote before COVID virus, which has more brevity now more than ever: Life is complicated, complex, and a gift. We need to remind ourselves to embrace the present, accept the unique process, and just be in the moment.
If the team at Comprehensive Gastrointestinal Health can assist you in any way to achieve your health and wellness goals, we would welcome the opportunity. Our behavioral coach/counselor, dietitian, nurse practitioner, and gastroenterologist are all available for TELEMEDICINE VISITS. Yoga (and more specifically the aspects of yoga that especially benefit the mind-gut connection) has been scientifically demonstrated to compliment the care we provide for numerous GI conditions, as well as mental and physical wellness goals. Don’t hesitate to call for an appointment at 224.407.4400 or visit compgihealth.com for more information.