Living with chronic illness often brings with it a slew of new stressors and tasks in your life. As if daily life as a healthy person weren’t busy enough, anyone dealing with the medical world also has to juggle medication management, multiple doctor visits, limited energy, alternative health visits and approaches, insurance bureaucracy, and the list goes on.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything we’re juggling. Unfortunately, this can be detrimental to your health. Stress, feeling overwhelmed, and simply going from one thing to the next all impact immune and nervous system functioning, which then affect disease symptoms
It’s important to create a sense of internal space and mastery over the way we manage all the moving parts of each day. As the Jewish mystic the Baal Shem Tov said, “Wherever your thoughts are, that’s where you are.” It’s hard for the body to access health when the mind is in a thousand different directions. When you read this, you might find yourself saying “but all those tasks are important and do actually need my attention right now.”
I invite you to consider that they actually don’t need your attention right now. You cannot solve more than one thing at a time, so all those extra thoughts are just hindering your ability to solve the immediate priority in an effective way. They are pulling focus and adding stress, which can potentially aggravate disease. Furthermore, if you can continue to manage in this way, the risks to your health could leave you unable to manage any of the things on your list, let alone one at a time.
Learning to focus on one thing at a time and creating more internal space and calm, takes practice but is certainly achievable. Here are a few techniques you can easily integrate into your life.
The breath is incredibly powerful. Not only is breath essential for our survival in every moment, it also helps cleanse the body and mind. Most people rarely breathe fully. Spend the next few days checking on your breath and you might discover you often hold your breath throughout the day. Don’t worry, that’s normal. But, it isn’t healthy. Throughout the day, in a moment of stress, in between one task and the next, stop to breathe. Take three slow deep breaths and really visualize filling every cell of your body with oxygen.
Advanced tip: Learn enhanced breathing exercises with the Wim Hof breath app. This type of breath helps us heal by super-oxygenating the body, and releasing emotions and toxins.
Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, alter brain chemistry to increase calm and focus, increase effective decision-making, boost the immune system, and reduce chronic pain. In short, it certainly can’t hurt!
Remember though that your brain is used to constantly firing on all cylinders, even for those who experience brain fog. It’s important to keep this in mind, since you will be retraining your brain and literally creating new neurology as you learn to meditate. It can take time to build that new neurology so don’t give up and keep at it. You will love the benefits once meditation becomes more natural.
The best way to begin meditating is to download an app like InsightTimer or Hindsight and start with just a few minutes a day. If you are sheltered in place with others right now, encourage them to do it with you, especially children!
I am also including a special meditation script at the end of this blog that you can use to meditate and give an added boost to your immune system.
- Be Intentional
We often go through our day moving from one thing to the next without pause. This can create a feeling of free-falling or being out of control- feeling off-kilter so to speak. It’s important to feel centered with each segment of the day. An easy way to cultivate this is to set intentions. Begin your morning by setting an intention for your day. Then set your intention before each new task.
Here are a few examples:
- “My intention for today is to stay centered and bring my attention back to my breath any time I feel stressed. My intention is to also be satisfied with what does get done and let go of the rest.”
- “My intention for this doctor appointment is to articulate the symptoms I’ve been experiencing and address my concerns about this new treatment.”
- “My intention for the conversation I’m about to have with ___ is to remain calm, stand up for what I believe in, and come to an amicable agreement.”
The mind has such a profound impact on our bodies that it is essential to become the master of your own. Hopefully these simple techniques will pave the road to a more peaceful mindset and make it easier for you to manage the many pieces of your life with ease.
Sit or lay down in a comfortable position.
Begin to breathe slowly and deeply (if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, just go as deep as you can without too much discomfort).
Exhale fear, just release it with the breath.
Take 3 slow deep breaths like this.
Continue breathing slowly and calmly.
If thoughts come up, that’s okay, just let them float by.
Bring your awareness to your heart, place your hands on your heart and feel it beating.
Connect with its POWER.
Feel grateful for your heart. It has kept you alive all these years. Even through all the physical and emotional stresses you’ve put it through. It still shows up for you. Feel that gratitude fill your body.
Bring your awareness to your lungs. Take a deep inhale filling your lungs with the breath of gratitude. Imagine them glowing. Say “thank you” to your lungs for breathing without you even thinking about it. Feel how good it feels right now to be in control of your breath.
Bring your awareness to your digestive tract. Become aware of all the organs, actions, and processes that come together in the perfect way for your body to absorb nutrients from your food and eliminate toxins from one minute to the next. Feel gratitude for your digestion and all the organs that play a role. Feel awe for how all the processes come together in perfect balance to serve you.
Bring your awareness to your musculoskeletal system – your muscles and bones, your joints. Feel grateful for the motions that come easily to you. Feel grateful for the body parts that may not move well but are still doing their best to power through. Say thank you.
Bring your awareness to your immune system. Feel grateful for all the times that you’re body has protected you from an infection or a virus. It is literally thousands of times, all day, every day of your entire life. Say thank you. Be in awe of the power of your immune system that launches into action with cells spreading throughout your body to protect you from any outsider. Feel yourself fill with gratitude on the next inhale.
Continue to breathe slowly and deeply.
Your body is the most advanced machine on the planet. Breathe into that.
Connect with that statement.
Feel so grateful for every cell in your body. Feel that gratitude expand more and even more until it overwhelms you.
Stay in this place until you really feel overwhelmed by gratitude and, of course, continue for as long as you want. Breathing slowly and calmly. Feel gratitude for every cell in your body, feel awe for every mechanism and how they all come together.
* If you are interested in gaining more tools for staying centered, join my FREE Facebook Group, Staying Centered Through Coronavirus.