What’s going on today is stressful and can lead to an increase in anxiety and depression. Throughout recent events, we have not only worried about our health and finances, but we have also been feeling the effects of adjusting to work from home or having to take charge of our children’s education, and preparing to do it again. The COVID-19 pandemic has everyone on a wild roller coaster ride and we are all adapting to changes at a very rapid pace. Many of the outlets we once used to relieve stress—such as working out at the gym, visiting friends, and dining out—are either not allowed or are not what they used to be. Combine all of that with the stressors of normal everyday life, and it’s easy to see the overwhelming effect on our mental health. Fortunately, there are still plenty of things you can do to help offset the anxiety that this situation has created.
In addition to being a family law mediator/collaborative divorce attorney, I’m a longtime practitioner of yoga and meditation. Besides Its physical benefits, stepping away and going inward helps me to focus and decompress. I will still occasionally throw the “F” bombs when angry and feel the physical effects of anxiety but I know I have tools to get me through. Something that I noticed during this pandemic is that yoga has been more enjoyable to me than before. In the past, I would hurry to get to a yoga class after work. Although I knew I was doing something good for myself, the stress of rushing to get there from work when I had a huge list to cross off took its toll. Now that I work from home more, I can more easily fit yoga into my schedule and create a relaxing ambience for myself that I look forward to being a part of. I am now really into candles, succulents, essential oils, incense, and I don’t mind the background noise consisting of my family or dogs. I like this new type of Zen I have had to create for myself as it feels authentic and it feels like it’s me. I have even decided to take my practice to another level by participating in an online yoga teacher training this summer. So this time next year, I may be teaching a yoga class! I believe this will also bring renewed energy to my family law mediation/collaborative divorce practice.
If you are looking to begin your own yoga journey, I recommend checking out some of our local favorites: Tower Yoga of Fresno, COIL Yoga, Old Town Yoga Studio, or Blue Moon Yoga Studios that are all offering online classes or some others such as: Do Yoga With Me or GLO Yoga.
Another great option for stress relief is mediation. We have all heard of it but really it’s so important to take time each day to focus on your breathing, and that’s basically what it is if we simplify it. It might sound silly, but we get so busy mindlessly shuffling from one task to the next that many of us don’t realize we’re not taking the time to breathe in and out. I recommend checking out some of the meditation apps such as Insight Timer and Headspace to discover what works best for you and begin to experience how even 2-3 minutes of meditation can help to regain some focus, peace, and clarity in the midst of all this chaos.
Going through all of the changes that are happening in the world and in our own lives can be very overwhelming. When things get to be too much, it’s okay to go outside to take a walk around the block, look at flowers, walk barefoot in the grass which by the way is called “grounding”, or quickly gaze at the sunshine. It can do wonders. In fact, I highly recommend you try to separate yourself from stressful tasks and behaviors whenever possible. Make time for self-care throughout your day. I’m not talking about a day of indulgent pampering, although that sounds wonderful. Instead, focus on the transition points in your day. For example, when you first wake up, sip some lemon water to aid digestion and keep you hydrated, or try my favorite where in the middle of day I make sure to walk barefoot in the grass with my favorite stress reliever of all in time in tow: my golden retriever co-worker named Belle. I am going off-topic but those who know me/are a client of mine/have been around my office know Belle and she’s a one of a kind happy-go-lucky gal. I can write a whole other blurb on her and her awesomeness, but….You can also try to work in five-minute meditations into your day, like when you first wake up, break for lunch, or at the end of the workday. As you step away, breathe and remind yourself to be present.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, understand that you can only take it day by day and we are all doing the best we can. As you navigate through the challenges of COVID-19 and all the fear and changes that it has brought, remember that this is unchartered territory for all of us. We’re bound to feel overwhelmed at times, and that’s perfectly fine. This too shall pass, and we will all eventually adjust to our new normal. In the meantime, keep doing your best and take time to relax and please try meditation, yoga, walking barefoot in the grass, or whatever works for you to help you be present and maybe even laugh.