You have more control right now than you think you do

Coronavirus. COVID-19. These are scary times we’re in.  Everything is so uncertain… which has turned our worlds upside down.  No school.  No work for some of us.  No travel.  Events and special occasions canceled.  And it seems like it all happened so fast. 

It’s so jarring.  And in large part that’s because as humans we crave predictability.  We want to know what’s going to happen next.  It gives us a sense of control and certainty.  And with what’s going on in the world right now there is no predictability.  That can leave us feeling anxious, unsettled, and down right scared.

Even the thing that is most predictable for kids- getting up and going to school each morning- has been taken away from so many young people.  If you’re young, that’s really difficult to process.  On top of that, if your parents are worried about how they are going to manage school being closed down for 2… 3… 4 weeks, and as a kid you sense that, it affects you.  You absorb that worry.  You have your own confusing feelings to deal with right now, and then you are absorbing your parents’ moods and emotions, too. Yikes. That’s a lot to process.

No matter who you are though, young or old, if you’re bombarded by worrisome messages everywhere you turn-  TV, social media, radio, the conversations you’re overhearing in the grocery store or doctor’s office – you absorb that worry and fear and it has the potential to be all-consuming.

These things matter.

Stress is the #1 thing that can affect our health, especially in times like this.  Especially if you’re not feeling well or you have an already compromised immune system. I know first-hand what stress can do because a few years ago it was a huge contributor to the autoimmune disease I was diagnosed with.  So this is personal to me. 

Here’s my advice:

Limit your screen time.  Be mindful of how much fear and negativity you’re allowing into your brain.  Put down your device and walk away.  Do something else – something that makes you feel good.  Maybe exercise.  Read a book. Sit down with your family and play a game or do a puzzle.  How about picking a new recipe to try?  That could be fun!

Here’s the thing-

We crave control and predictability and structure.  What’s happening outside of our homes right now isn’t giving us that.  BUT- we CAN control what’s happening inside our homes, within our families, and most certainly within our own minds.  You do not have to believe every thought that pops into your head.  If it’s scary and makes your brain go to a dark place, ask yourself this:  what if the opposite were true? Can you stop the runaway train that is your thoughts and really try to reframe that thinking into something more positive?  Yes, this take energy and it definitely takes practice.  But what’s the alternative?  Letting our anxiety take over our lives? I don’t want that and I’m betting you don’t either.

Speaking from personal experience, if we decide to the boss of our own thoughts, then we have more room in our brains for focus and clarity to take care of the wellbeing of our loved ones and our households.  And that is what’s most important right now.   If we decide to be the boss of our own thoughts we can foster a sense of control by making sure we’re doing what is within our power to stay healthy and resilient. We can regain some control of what otherwise feels like an out of control situation.

Here are my favorite recommendations for a healthy body and a healthy mind:

  1. Drink lots of water.  Notice I didn’t say drink lots of “fluids.”  No- I really mean water.  Not soda, not fruit juice, not sports drinks.  WATER.  Sugar is an immune system killer.  You’ve got to stay away from the sugar, and this includes fake sugars like artificial sweeteners.
  2. Ditch the junk food.  Make it your goal to put nutrition-dense foods into your mouth.  Vegetables, homemade soups, salads, fruit.  Go for lots of colorful things that don’t come out of a wrapper or need to be microwaved.
  3. SLEEP!  Adults should be aiming for 7-8 hours a night, and kids and teens 9 hours or more.  Sleep gives your body a chance to heal and replenish.  Naps are good, too.  So if you’re quarantining at home, why not prioritize a nap each day?
  4. Fresh air & sunshine.  Get outside.  It could be your own backyard, or a walk in the woods, or in the desert, or on the beach…. But get outside and breathe some fresh air.  Give your body a chance to make some Vitamin D.  Your nervous system will thank you for it!
  5. Speaking of Vitamin D… let’s talk about supplements for a minute.  I’m a big believer in supplements.  I know some people aren’t.  But here’s the deal – my commitment to supplementing what my bloodwork has shown I’m deficient in and what are proven  contributing factors to my autoimmune disease – namely Vitamin D and B12 – have had dramatic impact on my health.  It’s important to buy good, high quality brands of so your body can actually absorb the vitamins and not just pee them out – but supplementing can really strengthen your immune system.  This goes for kids, too. 

So what else do I take?  Fish oil and magnesium every day.   I also take my hemp CBD oil twice a day, every day.  I have so much to say about CBD and the amazing ways in which it benefits our health and immune system… I really do believe in it. Make sure yours is organic and of the highest quality so you aren’t absorbing heavy metals, pesticides, or other unnecessary additives that dilute the efficacy of the product.

What else do I believe in for health?

  1. Essential Oils – I’m absolutely devoted.  In fact, just last night I was re-reading about the anti-viral effects of tea tree oil and frankincense.  Luckily for my household, I have both!
  2. Pets – Pets can bring so much joy into our lives.  They give good snuggles, they make us laugh, they like long walks which helps us be more active.  And for kids, having a pet to love and take care of can be very fulfilling and can nurture our spirit.  Maybe it’s the sense of unconditional love they give us.  If you’re a dog owner like me and your kids are off of school, be sure to include your pet in your daily walk or backyard play time.

So let’s recap:

  1. WATER
  3. SLEEP
  6. BONUS:  Essential oils and play time with pets

Good news! The first four things on this list are FREE, or nearly free: Water, sleep, and getting outside. Nutrition-dense food?  Well, you’re already spending money on food.  Junk food doesn’t fill you up and causes cravings to just keep eating more and more, so I find that when I eat nutritious food I’m less hungry, so I spend less on stuff at the grocery store than when I used to buy lots of processed and packaged foods.

That’s all for now.  Take care and stay well everyone.  We’re going to get through this unprecedented time in our history and we’re going to be stronger because of it. 

Much love!!

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