How Can I Create & Maintain a Sense of Balance?
How we start and end each day CAN be the key to managing stress and maintaining a sense of calm. If we commit to acts of self-care in the morning and before we go to bed at night can be the difference between a day of resolute clarity and groundedness and a day of stress and emotional fatigue.
Upon waking in the morning, let’s try to avoid immediately checking the news (see my first blog post regarding limiting exposure to the news and media) . Rather, let’s attempt to begin each morning with some stretching/yoga routine. There are several instructional videos on youtube that vary in length. Here is one example of a good one.
If you are lucky enough to wake up before your children (or don’t have children at home) then you can take the time to do these relaxing exercises alone. As you enjoy these precious solitary moments, try to focus on this activity as a moment of self-care; an exercise in indulgence if you will. If you and your children tend to rise together (or they wake you up!) consider doing this morning routine with them.
Before going to bed each night, we can choose a relaxation technique as part of our bedtime ritual. Due to the current lockdown, many of us are experiencing difficulty falling asleep, insomnia and frequent waking throughout the night. These symptoms can be due to our current state of anxiety and also our lack of physical movement throughout the day.
I highly recommend using Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). PMR is a deep muscle relaxation technique that can control insomnia and significantly reduce anxiety and stress. It’s a simple practice of tensing/contracting one muscle group at a time followed by their release. This short 10-15 guided practice both releases body tension and quiets the mind, making it easier to fall asleep.
Youtube is a great resource for finding a guided PMR session that best suits your needs- in terms of length of exercise, music and voice selection. Here’s one possible suggestion:
The focus of this blog is emphasizing activties to do as we begin and end each day. A way to bookend each day with conscious self-care.
However, this last tip is based upon EMDR. EMDR (eye movement desensitization & reprocessing) is a trauma-focused therapy technique developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1990’s. This tip is NOT meant to replace actual EMDR therapy (with a licensed EMDR therapist), however, practicing this self-soothing technique can help relieve anxiety symptoms quickly and effectively.
When we are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, either do bilateral tapping on your knees or a butterfly hug (when you cross your arms across your chest and systematically tap each shoulder repeatedly). As we bilaterally tap (each time for a set of 25 times) we can repeat one of the following statements out loud or quietly to ourself. Pick the one that best suits you personally. The following positive self- statments can relate to the current situation.
“I am doing the best I can under the circumstances.”
“Whatever happens, I can learn to deal with this.”
“I can learn from this.”
After tapping, take a breath.. and let it go.
Repeat for about 5 minutes. It should provide a significant sense of relief; this can be used throughout the day when our anxiety level rises and we feel a sense of discomfort. The following is a brief description of how to practice the Butterfly hug.
As always, I do hope these tips and suggestions are helpful. I am open to questions/comments, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.