It has been a while since my last blog. It is no surprise to anyone reading this we are living through a true once in a generation global pandemic. COVID-19 has reached more than 200 countries and territories and infected over one million people at the time of publishing. Updates are constantly supplied through News channels who are tracking and monitoring the spread and social media is filled with memes and information which may or may not be from credible sources or completely accurate. Countries around the world are introducing strict guidelines and restrictions to help tackle the spread of infection and for every single person on the planet it is important we adhere to these newly implemented rules to protect not only ourselves, our family and friends but for those who are more vulnerable and classed as ‘high risk.’ Through social distancing we are able to come together as one – regardless of our social class, religious background, sexual orientation and ethnicity – and do our part to flatten the curve. As we face a great deal of uncertainty as to what lies ahead many of us can expect an unsettling sense of anxiety. It is extremely important, now more than ever, that we find comfort in even the littlest of things and feel grateful for how truly blessed we are. It is a shame it takes a global pandemic for us to take a moment to truly reflect and come together as one – but as daily life as we know it has come to a grinding halt for many and no clear end date in sight now is the perfect time to do so.
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During times of high stress and anxiety our body goes through a number of physical, mental and emotional changes. Excessive worrying, feeling agitated or easily irritated, restlessness, fatigue, sleep disruptions, changes in appetite, racing heartbeat, sweaty palms and build up of tension noticeably around the shoulders is our bodies natural response to the release of adrenaline associated with anxiety. Once the perceived threat has been removed you will begin to calm down and recover. To experience any of these symptoms takes a toll on the body and leaves you feeling exhausted afterwards. Every once in a while we should take time out to practice self love and care and with a questionable reduction in daily distractions there is no better time to indulge in self care.
Everyone will have their own ideas and preference of self care. Generally speaking a face mask and soak in the tub with a glass of wine and some candles is at the top of most peoples list. For some a hair treatment and pedicure seem to do the trick while others find relaxation in cleaning and decluttering their apartment (how I wish I could be like them!) I have included several products I highly recommend that are designed to help you relax below.
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Limit Social Media
I find social media is where most of us are spending our sudden abundance of free time and it may be contributing to our anxiety. We have friends sharing news articles and we are invited to join groups dedicated to COVID-19 updates within our community. We see updates come straight out of some of the worst affected areas throughout the world, we see doctors and nurses plea for more personal protective equipment, more medical supplies and warnings to the public to stay at home. We see the latest death toll rack up around the world and this is where I find many false articles and information can begin to circulate. While it may feel beneficial to stay as up to date and aware of the situation as possible it does have it’s disadvantages and finding the balance is key to keeping your anxiety levels as low as possible. It is also worth reducing the amount of time you spend watching the news and engaging in any kind of COVID-19 related conversations.
Between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day I took a break from social media to focus on reflecting on the previous year and setting goals for the new year ahead. I realized how much time I actually wasted aimlessly scrolling through social media. It also made me realize how much more effort I needed to make to reach out to people as I was no longer constantly updated with their life. From personal experience alone, I recommend you try it.
Maintain Close Relationships
This next point may contradict the previous as we are now engaging in social distancing and social media is an essential tool to maintaining connections with those nearest and dearest to us who we are no longer able to be in close contact with. With the vast majority of us able to use FaceTime, Houseparty and Skype we are able to check in with family and friends from anywhere in the world with relatively good service connection (depending on your internet provider!) It is no where near the same as sitting face to face engaging in conversation but it is keeping ourselves, our loved ones and our community safe.
As I have lived in Canada now for 22 months I have had to make do with maintaining my relationships with family and friends back home in Ireland through social media. It is not always easy, time difference and personal schedules aside, it can be challenging to make the most of seeing loved ones through a phone screen. Once this pandemic comes to and end and we are finally able to return to the status quo we will have a new found appreciation for visiting family and friends. It really is the little things!
A Daily Walk
Over the last two weeks myself and my partner Ricky have become increasingly restless, in part due to the restrictions the city of Toronto has released advising all citizens to only leave their home for groceries, medical supplies and appointments. We decided to go for a quick afternoon walk one day last week and I was quite honestly taken back by how many people were out and about. The sun was shining, the air was fresh and crisp, while the streets did have a lot of foot traffic everyone seemed to respect social distancing and maintain a safe distance but that didn’t stop me from feeling uneasy.
Now I find it best for us to wake up as early as we can and be able to enjoy a walk as the sun begins to rise and we are do not have to worry about coming into as much foot traffic. A simple two mile walk has become such a luxury for us both and truly a saving grace in terms of keeping our anxiety and stress levels as low as possible. We are able to maintain somewhat of an active lifestyle and achieve over our 10,000 daily steps before others may have even had their morning coffee. Bonus tip: grocery stores begin to open as we are just returning from our morning walk and the queue is relatively low and shelves are usually freshly stocked.
Remember at the beginning of the blog post I said we need to ‘find comfort in even the littlest of things’ and I know it may be hard for some people reading this to find a positive in all of this but every time I find myself stressing or becoming overwhelmed I take a moment to think of the benefits this will have on the planet. More and more flights are becoming grounded, there is less cars are on the road, non essential businesses have been shut, factories have ceased operations equalling less waste. NASA spoke very early and openly about the reduction of environment pollution over China and Italy in the days and weeks following each countries initial lock down. With more and more countries now being forced to follow similar protocol it is allowing our Earth a chance to heal like never before.
I feel very strongly about caring for the environment and doing what we can to reduce our carbon footprint. If there is anything we can take away from the current situation at hand is that our planet is slowly beginning to heal after many years of neglect at the expense of human beings. Let me know what steps you are taking to help reduce your carbon footprint and help protect the planet in the comment section below.
I hope reading this has been able to put some people at ease during this time of uncertainty. The numbers continue to show social distancing is working but we are still a long way from being able to return to our normal day to day life. Take this time as an opportunity to be able to fully relax, sit back and reflect and focus on the positive. The sooner everyone complies to social distancing and follows the restrictions set in place the sooner we are able to return to normal. These are essential for us to do our part and help flatten the curve which will take pressure off our health care system and medical personnel.