Confinement is universal, these days, but it looks different for everyone. For some, it’s corralling your kids into some semblance of homeschooling while also attempting to work from home. For others, it's a constant state of stress and uncertainty about the future regarding jobs, financial security, and even illness. And for others, it’s a time of true solitude, missing essential moments and contact with those we love.
But whatever confinement looks like for you, it's important to take the time to for self-care and stress reduction. And our experts have the answer.
1. Get in Touch with Your Body
Exercise has been shown to reduce stress, which we all need during quarantine. Dawn DeSylvia, MD recommends using online exercise platforms like live-streamed classes from Five-Point Yoga to keep feeling strong, while celebrity trainer Ridge Davis swears by stretching and mobility work.
“Movement is the best medicine for stress," he says, "because it releases endorphins that trigger feelings of happiness and peacefulness.”
Dr. Drew Ramsey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and in private practice in NYC, also believes in the healing power of movement.
“We are on our screens for work like never before – plus people hold a lot of stress in the body.”
He recommends not just physical activity – particularly stretching – but also physical acts of relaxation: wind down with hot baths, showers, and lots of soothing tea.
2. Get in Touch with Nature
While self-isolating at home, DeSylvia recommends taking some time to garden.
“Even with the quarantine,” she says, “we need nature.”
The Japanese tradition of "forest bathing" has been found to be as beneficial to your health as eating your greens, and you don't actually need to venture as far as the forest to take full advantage. DeSylvia recommends spending ten minutes a day with your bare feet on the earth to stay grounded.
Of course, you can also use your time outside to grow your own food, thus reducing your dependency on supermarkets. Try one of our hand-selected grow-your-own gardening kits to start reaping the healing power of plants today.
3. Heal with Food
Food is an essential part of healing in this time – in more ways than one. Ramsey recommends eating "nutrient-dense foods, not empty calories," and spending time in the kitchen preparing them with care.
You could interpret this advice in a number of ways. Maybe you want to whip up something quick and easy like this detoxifying soup with carrot and ginger, which is on the table in under 30 minutes. Or maybe you're craving a bit more of a project, like homemade cauliflower gnocchi. Either recipe is a great way to spend some time recentering yourself – not to mention helping your kids understand fractions!
If you haven't already begun a daily meditation practice, now is certainly the time to start. Once you do, says best-selling author and celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, “Stressful situations will roll off your back more often, and if something does get to you, the effects won’t last as long.”
She recommends meditating first thing in the morning.
"It helps set a calm tone for the day and allows you to move through each day with authenticity.”
As for how to start, Davis recommends simple breath work, which you can discover with our guide to breath work meditation for beginners.
“I always defer to breath work when reentering myself after a chaotic event or day," says Davis, noting that it both feeds the body oxygen and centers thoughts and emotions, making it as much a physical act of meditation as a mental one.
"Breath work also calms down the nervous system and allows the mind to process information with more clarity and rationality.”
5. Get Introspective
It might be tempting to distract yourself from current events with television or books, but don’t be afraid to look this crisis right in the face.
“I’m encouraging the necessary inward journey of this,” says Ramsey. “My New York medical colleagues are in the midst of something that is horrific. It is also teaching them something about their incredible strength and innovation. Don’t look for superficial silver linings, but demand of yourself to grow from this as a person.”
Snyder echoes this sentiment.
“It’s really important to lean into feelings that arise, rather than hide, suppress or repress them," she says. "Pushing down our feelings creates more stress long-term."
For Snyder, the best way to get past the feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety is to allow yourself to really feel them.
"There’s a detoxifying quality to actually feeling deeply," she says. "In the long-term, it will help regulate and create emotional balance, allowing us to get centered emotionally."
6. Listen to Yourself
Above all, remember that coping with confinement and the ensuing stress doesn't look the same for everyone.
“No matter what people may tell you works," explains Kelsey Patel a leading wellness and reiki expert, and an expert in stress and burnout, "it's about each of us as unique individuals getting to learn more about ourselves to manage and best mitigate how stress manifests in our emotional and physical bodies."
She adds that this means that coping mechanisms may vary, not just from person to person, but from day to day.
“One day, it may be taking a nap, while another day it may be doing exercise like a yoga practice or long walk to physically move the energy of the body," she says, "and another day it might be crying and journaling or talking to a loved one or taking a bath."
"Each time you experience stress," she continues, "which is absolutely normal and part of the human experience, you need to be the one to look at yourself and ask yourself what you need in that moment to support you with the repercussions.”
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