Updated: Sep 11
For most of us, the last six months have made us reevaluate what is important in life, and how family and friends keep us whole. It's also been challenging for our mind and bodies as we searched for ways to face the isolation better. While it's true that lack of social interaction has a profound effect on our minds, lack of proper physical exercise takes its toll on our bodies. Since our environments have forever been transformed, and the forecast looks as though this might continue, you need a plan to stay healthy. Here are five powerful habits you can start now every day to help ease our new normal.
1. Dynamic Breathing
How long does coronavirus last in your system? We don't know. Yet the number one predictor of longevity is lung capacity. The more elastic your lungs remain, the better your health will be. Deep dynamic breathing lowers blood pressure and heart rate, helps depression, improves sleep, and improves overall health. Breathing also strengthens your lungs, giving you a powerful weapon to help fight Covid-19, since it is mainly a respiratory virus. Here is a simple routine you can do daily. Find a quiet place to stand or sit. Breathing through the nose, inhale and exhale thirty times. On the last exhale, let all the air out of your lungs and hold your breath as long as you can. Then inhale and hold that breath for 10 seconds, exhale. That's it!
2. Brain Calming
Meditation is a powerful way to deal with stress, and it also lowers blood pressure. The tough part is finding the right moment to shut the brain off. While there are many apps and programs available for meditation, let's simplify it. Find a quiet place to sit quietly, in whatever posture you find comfortable. Close your eyes and take deep breaths (or use the dynamic breathing cycle with this exercise) and relax your body. Imagine thoughts are merely clouds passing by. Let them go. Continue to sit for at least ten minutes, and lengthen that time eventually.
3. Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing)
In Japan, forest bathing is prescribed by psychologists to help ease depression and improve health. It is the simple process of walking in the forest, but being mindful of the experience. Smell the trees. See the wildlife. Listen to the wind. And forest bathing can be done safely with a partner, or with your pup.
One of the easiest forms of exercise is walking, and it has multiple benefits as it serves the entire body. Try walking at a normal pace, but try to add cycle breathing to your pace. For more of a challenge, pick a path that has a few steps or hills. Try to make your movement mindful. Feel your breath and the ground, smell the air. Make this part of your weekly routine.
The body is a network of tissue and nerve meridians, and these pathways can be stimulated to help our moods and improve how we cope with stress. Tapping allows us to access these benefits. Try tapping the face first by gently using a few fingers above the brows. Tap for 15-30 seconds. Move to the bottom of the nose, then bottom of the mouth. Next, move to the clavicle bones (the skinny bones of your shoulder). Tap each wrist on the pinky side, palm up. All of these points are relaxation points of the body. Try tapping throughout the day, especially if you feel anxious.
While we may be in for more days and months of adjusting to our new environment, you can use these powerful habits to ease your mind. Again, try and incorporate these into your week, and make them your new routine. We got this!