Trauma of the Pandemic - How to cope moving forward!
This is what my clients have been saying over the last 9 months:
They have been struggling to feel good / well during the recent lockdown.
They have been feeling heavy
They have been sleeping, but not feeling restful.
They have little energy.
Have you been feeling any of the above recently?
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There are ways we can cope, but we need to understand from an Ayurveda point of view how our mental states our made up.
Satva - We feel balance / harmony. We feel light and have conscious awareness.
Tamas - Opposite of satva. We feel heavy, dark, lethargic, almost like we are stuck in a fog.
Rajas - Feel the quality of movement. Very active and almost jittery. Never quite settled.
In times of trauma, change or stress - your body experiences a “shock”. Shock causes internal stress. When a certain part of our brain gets stimulated by this internal stress, our brain tends to get confused, especially during dramatic change eg divorce, death and even Corona Virus “lockdown”.
These changes can bring up our stress responses and is usually expressed in 3 different ways:
Becoming restless - we want to keep busy or can’t focus eg you went into a room and you can’t remember why. This is called Rajas.
Doing very little at all - we know that we could be doing something, like mowing the lawn, washing the dishes, or resting, but you just end of sitting down and “doodling” on a piece of paper (drawing nothing really). This is called Tamas, feeling heavy and stuck, like we are in a bubble.
Moving between 1 (Rajas) and 2 (Tamas) above. Friction and heat are caused between these movements and agitation can occur. People of the dominant pitta dosha (physiological makeup - to be discussed in another blog post), really feel it here. For example, you have just ripped your favourite work bag, yet you don’t have to leave the house, due to lock down - you feel anger, heat, sharpness. These are all stress responses. But yet, this is totally normal to feel this way, as lockdown is a stress response / trauma (it’s a total change from the way we have been living). The whole world has been through a trauma and still experience its after affects as we slowly ease out of lockdown and probably still need to adjust to the new normality many months / years after.
The idea is for us to find our Satva state - bring balance back to the mental state and body.
In Ayurveda to help bring Satva back, we need to build Ojas. This is our vital energy that rules our immunity, strength and happiness. It’s about building the reserves deep in the oil tank. It fuels our lamp and calms our CNS (central nervous system). It also helps us to increase our window of tolerance and increase our ability to rest and digest.
Ways to build this Ojas / Satva state:
Yoga - this can include gentle rhythmic breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, deep relaxation, meditation and if you don’t feel a dynamic class is what you need, then head for a restorative class instead.
Get into nature - stand in your garden, walk to the park, sit / stand on the grass, look up - what do you see, what colours jump out at you. What can you smell? What does this all feel like? Can you see any shapes in the sky (skychology).
Keep your relationships alive, call someone, Zoom call your friends, speak to someone, check in on your neighbour, write a letter to a friend (don’t you remember how lovely it was to read letters through the mail, it’s a lovely gesture to show someone you care. Maybe you want to speak to a professional or Life Coach to help you get back on track or just speaking to someone to release your concerns.
Eat the right foods - google satva foods. Make yourself a tonic, especially at night. In Ayurveda this is called Rasayana (rejuvenating tonic). Warm some milk, add a little saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, holy basil and turmeric for calming affects. Add a teaspoon of ghee and honey / agave syrup for sweetness. Milk is the carrier for all these lovely spices / herbs, and will take them straight to the vessels in the digestive system.
Breathing technique - count your inhale for 4, breathe out for 6 / 8 counts. Exhaling more than inhaling brings on our rest and digest mode.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is, what we have all experienced and will experience is normal during this pandemic. But being aware and taking small steps can allow us to cope. I I hope you enjoy my tips. Please let me know how you cope and whether you enjoyed any of my coping tips.