In the UK we are in our third lockdown. In January, the darkness of winter. Now slowly coming up to a year since our first lockdown.
This means we need to tend to ourselves in a way that we have never done before. This pandemic is showing us that we cannot continue in the way that we did. It’s no longer about the nice to haves, or the nice to dos.
It’s the uncompromising responsibility that we have to bring in for ourselves. So that we can take care of ourselves on the deepest level.
If we don’t we will burn out. We will lose ourselves.
It has taken me many years of work to develop my relationship with responsibility. To be responsible for who I am, for the life I’m living and the choices I make.
And I want to tell you, I’m still working on it.
I have found these past couple of weeks hard, recalibrating after the announcements that were made on 4th January. The children waking up on 5th January to no school, homeschooling and their parents working.
I had to take care of my emotions, my anger, my resentment, my guilt, my anxiety. All of these are very normal responses to what’s going on. But we need to take care of them.
I needed to take care of them so that I can show-up for my family, for my children, at a time when they’re struggling. To show-up for my husband. And to show-up for me.
I need to take care of every aspect, my mind, my body, my emotions and my soul.
And so I want to invite you to do the same. To bring in a gentle compassion whilst taking care and responsibility for yourself.
Here’s what I mean by this. Last week I set the intention to get out of the house every day. At the moment when I go outside I feel like I can breathe, everything releases. Ensuring that I take care of my needs at a when the family are home, when I could easily tell myself that I need to be at home, that I need to tend to the children, or cook or clean or do something else other than go out for a walk.
And so I went out every day, even if it was just a walk around the block in the dark. Then Wednesday and Thursday came and I didn’t get out. Rather than beat myself up, I showed myself compassion. I ran myself a bath and did something different in that moment. And then I simply went out again on Friday.
Now is not the time for perfection. It’s not the time to beat ourselves up. But it is the time to understand our own needs and see how we can meet those.
This is how I’m supporting myself. What you need will look and feel different, but can you allow yourself to take care?
There is so much noise at the moment. From social media, the news and even internally as we navigate the situation we’re in. Taking a moment every day to breathe, to breathe deep into your body. It not only gives you a moment to pause, it can help support your central nervous system which is likely to be in the fight, flight or freeze mode. I’d recommend sitting in silence for at least 10 minutes a day.
Connecting with nature
This is medicine for me. I think we’ve gone through a period of time where we’ve lost our connection to nature but it’s coming back. Where in nature do you feel at home? Take a moment to look at nature right now, totally inwards, not trying to do or be anything. Resting before spring. Getting out in nature can act as a way of recalibrating. A field, a wood, even in your garden.
Water has been used to for centuries to cleanse and clear. Have a bath at the end of the day to clear the energy of the day. If you can get out and walk near water. And if you’re by the sea, swim!
Also ensure that you’re drinking plenty of water though the day. It can be easy to forget to drink in the winter, but fill a bottle up and have it close by to drink throughout the day. You can add some lemon, or even some cinnamon and some pepper corns.
Water is also the element associated with winter, with hibernation, the darkness of the night. If you observe water it’s never blocked, it always flows. Water has both a strength, a force and is also a continuous flow, which I think is a beautiful metaphor for where we are.
Eat three nourishing meals a day. I don’t mean perfectly healthy food. We need to do what we can at the moment. But making sure you’re eating well and not skipping any meals. Tuning in to what you and your body need in the moment. This will help feed you, nourish you, ensure that you have the energy to deal with whatever life is showing you right now.
It is winter after-all. Snuggle up by the fire. Put some wonderfully comfortable clothing on and get cosy. I’m wearing a particular jumper at the moment a lot! It’s comforting, it’s soft, it’s warm and I can cosy down into it. A nice snug blanket works well too.
Allowing your emotions
We push so many of our emotions away. I’m going to repeat what I said earlier. Feeling anger, resentment, guilt, frustration – these are all very normal emotions for what we’re experiencing. But they are difficult to be with. They are difficult to process because we haven’t been taught how to be with these emotions. The first step is compassion. Bring in compassion for everything that you’re feeling.
Become aware what you do for comfort
Do you turn to food? Chocolate? Shopping? Alcohol? For me it’s chocolate and shopping. This is simply an invitation to become conscious. As I sit here writing to you, I can feel that I want some chocolate but it’s a way of taking me away from how I’m feeling. It’s only ever a quick fix and the emotions will still be there. So with compassion just get curious and explore to see if there’s another way to give yourself what you need.
This is probably the most important, to bring in compassion for yourself. Wholehearted compassion. Breathe deeply into your body and hold yourself with love. Many of us find this so difficult, the inner battle provides a familiar comfort, but this pattern, this way of living will not serve you during this lockdown. I want to invite you to be kind to yourself, in a way you haven’t been before.
Here’s a video with a Loving Kindness meditation. Lovingkindness is a Buddhist practice that cultivates compassion. It is a continuous practice brining in compassions for ourselves.
A New Way of Being
If you’re in need of support and come join me on A New Way of Being. A New Way of Being is my 8-week programme that starts on 8th March. It’s a journey with and for yourself. If you’re feeling lost, if you’re feeling like there’s nowhere to turn, I want to invite you to come into this programme for you. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BANT Registered Nutritionist and Maturation Coach
Nicky Duffell is a BANT Registered Nutritionist and Maturation Coach, bringing together nutrition expertise, functional medicine and powerful coaching techniques to support the whole you: Mind, Body and Soul.
Nicky qualified from The Institute for Optimum Nutrition in 2009 and is registered with The British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT), and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). She is also a member of The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), and has a specialist interest in grief work.