By Adrienne Alden-LMFT and Registered Yoga Teacher
It’s cheesy but it works. Empirical data tells us that gratitude actually changes the brain. With the rapid intake of intense news, we can help equalize our brain with reliable and intentional gratitude practice. Research tells us that it’s important to write it down. Make a commitment to write down at least 5 things you are grateful for each day. If you are struggling to come up with something, go back to the basics. Fresh tasting juice, a pretty flower in the yard, clean sheets.
Check in with yourself and others and BE HONEST
We can make it through hard times when we stick together. Connection and intimacy remind us that we are not alone. We can’t experience the healing power of closeness when we are not honest with ourselves first. Each day, take at least 3 minutes to scan your body and mind and notice what is there. Don’t judge what is there. All experiences are welcome. Put words to the physical sensations and emotions. Share your observations with a friend or family member. Ask your loved one what they are noticing about their journey.
Give Yourself Permission to Grieve
Our world has been turned upside down. Denying emotions does not help us feel better. In fact, research tells us that when we ignore our emotions we’re more likely to have health complications. What we resist will persist. What we resist will also manifest itself elsewhere in our lives and bodies. Name it and claim it to tame it.
Practice Radical Acceptance
This is a tough one. Also an important practice. Key word: Practice. Without judging yourself- Take note of how much you are saying/thinking, “this shouldn’t be happening”. We add a layer of suffering when we don’t accept reality. Accepting does not mean you have to like it or judge it as good. Decide to tolerate this moment and its events as they currently are. Sometimes you will have to make this decision to accept over and over again within the span of just a few moments.
Limit the amount of news you are intaking
Of course stay informed! Also, be aware that the news is intense right now and easily contributes to anxiety. Don’t leave the news on all day long. Try checking the news two times a day in 20 minute increments. We have vast access to technology. I promise- If something drastic is occurring someone will let you know within a reasonable time frame.
Remind yourself there is more than this crisis
During times like these we can easily feel as though the walls are closing in. Make a point to remind yourself of the bigger picture. Watch nature videos, get fresh air, look at an art book, listen to your favorite music.
Use all of your senses and mindfully delight in the little things: Deeply enjoy! Slowly drink a cup of coffee and notice all the flavors and sensations. Take a shower and bathe your body like a temple. Put lotion on like your body is a masterpiece. Smell the soap you are using, feel the warm water on your skin. We are all consumed with thoughts and worry right now. It’s important to exercise other parts of our brain and body. We cannot think clearly when we are stuck in worry mode.