How are you doing? How is your body doing?
The level of anxiety that I am feeling about current events is starting to be dramatically played out in my body. My neck, and upper back muscles clench. My shoulders rise. By early afternoon I have a screaming headache and can’t focus. Most days I have to lay down until it passes.
When I am not laying down trying to get my headache to go away, I’m stress eating. My method of escapism has been an ongoing binge of Criminal Minds on Netflix. Sitting for long periods at my desk working or lounging in the armchair while I stream Netflix is leaving me with bad posture and a tired back.
I know I am not alone in this. We are all living under the stress of uncertainty and social distancing. Our bodies are not meant to carry this amount of stress for such a long period of time. The biological system we have for responding to stressful or dangerous conditions was designed to stay “on” for about as long as it takes to run from danger to safety. When it kicks in for the long term in can impact how we sleep, what we choose to eat, and can impair our ability to think long term or make decisions. It’s also really, really bad for the immune system.
So today I am planning to do what I can to get my body to get out of this state of being in perpetual emergency response mode.
I plan to pause multiple times through the day to check in with my body. I’ll close my eyes and do a quick body scan looking for points of tension.
I will remind my body that it is okay to relax. That we are as safe as we can be. And that this ongoing feeling of tension isn’t good for our immune system.
I’ll massage, stretch, move, or whatever else is needed to get my body to relax.
I’m going to take care in what I eat today. I have some kale and other veggies that need to be cooked.
I am going to write in my journal, connect with my roommates, and I have a video chat set up for later this afternoon.
And I will give myself a little bit of time to curl up into a ball and cry, or rest, or stare at the walls.
I hope you are able to find time to pause and check in with yourself today.
Take a breath.
Let you shoulders drop. Let the arms hang loose at your sides.
Close your eyes and just breathe for a moment.
Please take care of yourself.
Please take care of one another.
Please stay home as much as possible.
Please be kind.
Let those you love know how you feel.
And of course, please wash your hands