Tips to calm your body in trying times


Your body is your home. In times of heightened stress, collective fear, and social injustice, it is wise to prioritize tending to your physical form. The body is a living testimony of the history of our lives and experiences; maps that are intricately connected to our collective and family experience. Our beautiful bodies register danger, abuse, love, and nurture. As somatic trauma therapist Besell van der Kolk says "the body keeps the score" of love, harm, abandonment, and connection. In these challenging times of mass unemployment, sharing space, uncertain finances, social isolation, and touch deprivation, it is crucial to have a practice of self-love, grounding, and physical care. The following are a few suggestions for you to support your body during this time:


1. Increase safe and loving touch

The call for social distancing creates challenges to our bodies, as we evolved to live in community and our nervous systems are designed for co-regulation (stress management) with other humans. With a lack of physical community support (eye contact, safe touch, laughing together, etc.) the body's sense of well-being and safety can decline. To counter this challenge, try the following things:


- Use self-massage and self-touch

- Increase safe and loving touch with your partner

- Increase your attention to pleasurable sensations like the weight of your body

on the couch, the softness of a blanket or pillow, the sun on your face

- Use weight on your body (i.e. weighted blanket, a pet on your lap, books

stacked on you) to soothe your nervous system

- Make eye contact and laugh with friends through virtual connection

- Prioritize orgasm if you feel safe and happy to do so


2. Tend to your breathing

In challenging times, it is easy to forget to breathe. Breath is deeply linked to our nervous system and our breathing rhythms inform our sense of safety and relaxation. Here are some suggestions for prioritizing breath:


- Use breathing exercises from yoga or other practices

- Practice syncing and breathing with your partner, a mirror, a pet or a friend

- Watch videos that make you laugh (this will help to invigorate, then relax your

breathing)

- Recommit to a yoga, exercise, or movement practice that gets you breathing in a

regulated way


3. Engage in virtual social connection

We are wired to be social; to give and receive positive social interaction (smiling, laughing, signs of love and affection). In times of social isolation, it is easy to forget how much we need these simple signs of shared love and humanity. Additionally, if we have less face to face interaction and more input from the news, we will begin to experience a heightened sense of danger. To support your sense of connection and ease, try:


- Regular video chats with individuals or groups of friends

- Using the houseparty app to create the feeling of being together

- Watch a movie or tv show with someone you love

- Tell each other a funny story while using a video app to get endorphins, oxytocin,

and dopamine surging in your brain


4. Feel your feelings

With so much to do, it can be difficult to see the importance of prioritizing time, space, and support to feel your feelings*. It is possible that there are several things in your experience right now requiring emotional attention and it is too overwhelming to feel them all. That is okay. It can be re-traumatizing to jump right into feelings, which is why it is crucial to have the right support if you are unable to. If you do have capacity and support, I encourage you to create time and space to feel what you are feeling. There are many feelings in the collective experience right now, including: grief, rage, anger, sadness, fear, joy, gratitude, and celebration. Know that whatever you are feeling is okay and you are not alone. Let me repeat that: whatever you are feeling is okay and you are not alone. Here are some ways to connect to your feelings:


- Move your body in an unstructured, expressive way

- Listen to music that triggers your feeling (if you are crying and unable to

breathe, your body is going into panic - this is a sign of trauma activation or

overwhelm and requires more support)

- Journal and use repetition sentences like: I feel..., I wish..., I want...,

I'm scared that...I'm grateful for...

- Speak to someone you trust about how you feel and cry with them

- Seek therapy if you need more support


*If you are someone who is struggling to just get by and you cannot imagine the time and space to do this, remember that you are part of a collective and can set an intention to receive the benefits of other people who are feelings.


5. Trust that you know what you need

Even in times when stress is not high, it can be difficult to trust our own wisdom of what we need. Not the voices of anxiety, depression, or the critical mind, but the true sense of need. While these needs can be bound by external restriction (ex. I need to sleep, but I have a newborn), often what stops us is our unwillingness to approve the authority of our own knowing. In this time, begin to practice trust that you will know when you need to rest, cry, connect, sleep, and exercise. If you are finding yourself consistently blocked from doing what you know you need and want, it might be a good time to reach out and work with someone to identify and tend to harmful patterns that no longer serve you.


I wish for you support, adaptability, and resilience during this time. Reach out today if you wish to deepen your practice of self-love and come home to yourself.

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