Staying Safe, Calm and Connected
During these challenging times, it’s only natural to worry about your well-being and safety, and that of your loved ones. In many countries around the world, including here in Scotland people are afraid, not knowing where the virus will show up next or how long it will continue to dictate our movements.
The anxiety is real, but focusing on the things we are in control of can help us to keep our emotional balance a little better.
Acknowledge emotions and fears but try to share these with a loved one or friend. Humans need to see other human faces to feel right; it’s perfectly natural to want to see and hug and comfort in person, but it’s of paramount importance we observe the government’s social distancing guidelines at all times. This doesn’t mean you can’t see your relative or speak to them face to face – you can still do this via Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp and if this is all gobbledy-gook, there’s the good old-fashioned telephone.
If you’re finding it difficult to keep anxiety in check, find things to be grateful for, from the daffodils in the garden and the first signs of spring to the clocks going back and the extra hour of daylight. Expressing gratitude and thinking of the things you’re grateful for has been shown to slow your heart rate.
Try to find the positives because they are there. Communities across the country are coming together to support each other, whether it’s signing up as an NHS volunteer or offering to do an elderly neighbour’s shopping. If you find yourself in an at-risk group, do accept offers of help – we’re in this together
To help manage uneasiness, try to keep to a routine. Our bodies operate on a series of cycles, most of which we are unaware of. Having a regular time for getting up, eating meals, going outdoors (or staying in) for exercise, and going to bed will help reassure your body on a subtle but important level, as well as assisting your circadian rhythm to settle. This is even more important with the recent change in the clocks.
Limit your screen time and choose when and how to update yourself. It’s important you are up to speed on the latest government guidelines, but watching endless updates of the news and checking how many people are affected will lower your resilience and raise your anxiety levels.
Instead, try to keep your brain active. This is a great time to tackle a new topic, maybe trying Sudoku for the first time, or starting in on a new language or musical instrument.
Do get out and about safely and sensibly – you are allowed to exercise. Pick an early morning slot if you live somewhere congested, so that you minimise the likelihood of sharing your exercise space with too many others. There is also nothing stopping you from getting in the garden if you’re lucky enough to have one. The warmer weather is just around the corner and of course we’ve just been gifted another hour of daylight (and potentially sunshine) from this weekend when the clocks moved forward.
Keep an eye on your diet. When feeling stressed, it’s all too easy to grab a quick snack on the go when really our body is crying out for the nutrients it needs to help it cope with extra pressure. Wholegrain carbohydrates (brown bread, brown pasta) will give long-term energy without causing sugar highs and lows and cravings.
Stimulants such as tea, coffee, refined sugar and alcohol can agitate the nervous system. It might be tempting to reach for a glass of red at the end of a long day with young children, but this will only heighten your stress and impact on your sleep, possibly even your waistline. Chamomile, lemon verbena and green tea are more supportive of the nervous system. Do make sure you drink plenty of water, as it’s important you stay hydrated.
As far as specific nutrients are concerned, B vitamins help to support the nervous system and vitamin C the adrenal glands (which help you to cope in times of stress and distress). The B vits are found naturally in potatoes, bananas, lentils, peppers, tempeh, beans and brewer’s yeast (Marmite and Vegemite are excellent sources); and vitamin C is of course found in most fresh fruit and veg, including broccoli, kale, peppers, oranges and strawberries.
Other essential nutrients include magnesium (found naturally in pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts and spinach) for the nervous system and iron for energy. Liver is an obvious food source of iron but is not a choice for everyone. Sardines, figs and apricots are good alternatives.
Herbals can also help. Passiflora has been used for centuries as a mild sedative and is particularly beneficial when mixed with other restorative herbs such as Avena sativa. Together they help to combat both the physical and mental symptoms of stress, helping to prolong sleep time, relieve muscle tension and alleviate mild anxiety.
If anxiety is having a knock-on effect on your sleep, try Valerian; it is recognised for its calming action and is thought to inhibit the breakdown of GABA, a chemical transmitter that enables you to ‘cross over’ into sleep. A perfect partner to Valerian is Hops, as it exerts a gentle sedative action on the nervous system.
You may also wish to try Jan de Vries Emergency Essence, which uses a variety of flower extracts to help bring the emotions back to a balanced state.
Finally, try to remain grounded. This is a period in time; there will come a time when we look back and reflect upon how a nation pulled together during a difficult period in history. It won’t be like this forever and we will get through this.
Our shops may not be open but your local Jan de Vries team is here for you via our website, www.jandevrieshealth.co.uk