Lockdown in Melbourne is difficult for everyone, with our own situations and circumstances. It can feel even more difficult if you live with a health condition and you are managing symptoms every day, without the normal support systems you usually have, or the ability to get to appointments or to therapies that help. It can be very hard to live with any health condition and/ or chronic pain, and it can feel like an extra challenge to cope with and to navigate, on top of this already challenging time. I understand this personally, so very well, and I want to share a few things that I hope may feel supportive to you.
Acknowledgment is a very powerful thing and I feel during these times, it's even more important. To really acknowledge how you are feeling and all the emotions that come up for you. Feeling alone and lonely with any health condition can be normal in every day life, and may feel even more heightened right now. Know and trust that it's okay to feel however you feel, and to really acknowledge how hard things may be. I understand so very well, how hard things can be and feel. You are not alone during this time.
I also believe acknowledgment of just how well you are doing, is so important - to remind yourself of what it is you can do, are doing, and that every small thing is really something to feel proud of, and to see as an accomplishment. I know how exhausting it can feel some days, how much strength it takes to live with something very challenging, and even more so right now. To really acknowledge and celebrate all the small ways you are managing things, all the things you can do and are doing, is so needed and also empowering for you. If you can look to all the ways you are doing so well, you can feel assured, with more confidence and self belief.
Something I suggest and find helpful, is writing things down at the end of each day - a list of things you have achieved, things you have managed, ways you have supported yourself - it's not only an acknowledgment list, but also a celebration list to yourself of all the ways you are doing the best you possibly can with what you have available, right now.
Focus on what you CAN do, not only on what you can't. I know in these times it can feel so hard to not be able to use some therapies that help, or get to appointments in the ways you are used to, for ease and support. But you can still access some services, support and therapies online, and I really encourage you to reach out for support in these ways. And especially, to reach out for support from someone who really knows what it feels like to live with a health condition and/ or pain right now, with lived experiences of their own. It can feel invaluable and truly supportive to know that someone really can acknowledge what you are feeling, how you are feeling, and what it is you are living with, to be able to truly be there alongside, with compassion. This is the support I believe in, and I am here for you, if you know you are seeking support in this way too.
It can feel lonely to live with challenging symptoms, and feel you are coping with everything alone. It is only normal and natural that stress and anxiety may feel higher right now, with worry and uncertainty. And yet, when we feel anxious, this can only heighten any symptoms and condition we may live with. If we feel anxious about pain, the pain may only increase even more. It's the same with any symptoms - if we focus on what is hard all the time, if we focus only on the restrictions or limitations, this can create more of a cycle and can become even harder to manage.
I encourage you to find and learn ways to listen to what you need, ways to support yourself in each moment of every day, ways to really tune in and listen to what your body needs, what your heart needs, and to know ways to change your language of how you speak to yourself and about whatever it is you live with, ways to focus on things that you can and are able to do, and to know what is available for you. If you would love support with any or all of this, then I am here for you.
I would love to suggest that you start noticing and bringing your attention to the language you use about yourself and your pain, or any symptoms you live with. You see, as hard as it can be to accept this, we can make our own situation worse by focusing on how hard things are, all the time. Our minds are very powerful. And the concept of what we focus on expands, is very true. And this isn't to be dismissive as believe me, I understand just how difficult things can feel and be. But I also know that if I take my focus away from what hurts, if I can take my attention to somewhere else, or change the language I use, things can feel a little easier to manage. We can feel we are in the drivers seat with all the control buttons within our reach. If you have a sore back and you are continually focused on the pain, it will intensity and feel worse. Instead, if you can know and find ways to focus on other things, to change your language around pain and how it feels for you, this will over time, with practice, bring more ease. I know this to be so very true.
Other ways to change your focus can be with distraction. Being mindful of things that bring more calm and joy to your days. Favourite things you love to do and are available in the safety of your own home. Perhaps that's writing, or another creative project. Perhaps it's cooking. Perhaps it's reading more books for pleasure and letting your mind escape to somewhere away from yourself and this current situation. Perhaps it's calling a friend. Or looking at beautiful photos of nature or art. Things to escape into and to uplift you. In every small way, all of this will make a difference, and with practice, you will notice how you feel more calm and ease.
Create some 'non-negotiables' in your life right now, and really stick to them. For me, these are eating healthy food, sitting in the sunshine when it comes out, limiting time on social media and internet, having a routine to my day, meditation, knowing things that uplift me and having these as my 'anchors' to come back to when things feel difficult, being mindful and intentional with who I engage with and what I take in, and putting my own needs first. This one can feel very hard to do, but in these extra challenging times of lockdown, if you live with illness, any health condition or pain, then putting your own needs first and supporting yourself right now, is necessary and essential. It's part of self care as a whole way of being. It's also empowering when you can start saying no to things that just aren't necessary or a priority right now, and start saying yes to yourself and honouring what it is that you truly need. What you can do to support yourself, what is available to you, how you can and are managing and navigating each day.
Caring for your whole well being as best as you possibly can, includes so many small things, that actually bring so much. Like just standing outside in fresh air. If you have a garden or a courtyard or deck, just being outside, taking in the nature around you, any bird sounds you may hear, and feeling the fresh air on your face. If you aren't able to exercise or walk outside right now, maybe just go out for very short breaks. Don't focus on what you can't do - focus on all the small and significant things you can do, as everything counts.
Healthy food is so essential for caring for your whole well being. Food is true medicine and during this lockdown time, it is an opportunity to really focus on eating foods that support you, foods that nourish and nurture you, and are full of all the good nutrients your body needs. And to really care for your digestive health too, as the foods we eat have such an impact on our mood. If we are eating foods that don't agree with us, or may create more inflammation, then any symptoms we live with will increase, as well as anxiety too. If you know you need some support with healthy food choices in an intuitive and mindful way, then I am here for you.
I like to mention foods that are mostly plant based, organic where possible (if you can have delivery of fruit and vegetables right now), making sure you have a plate full of vegetables like the colour of the rainbow, eating regular meals, cooking soup for when you may not feel hungry but there is healthy option always available, and even getting creative in the kitchen if you can. Cooking can be healthy and very simple, it doesn't have to be complicated. But it can also be an enjoyable thing to find new recipes, to try new things, and to really enjoy the food you eat and even visualise just how much of an impact eating good food is having on every cell of your body, to support you during this time. The difference healthy home cooked food will make to your well being, any symptoms you live with, versus take away foods or foods that don't agree with you, is everything.
Knowing ways to manage stress and anxiety is essential. This can be through uplifting things and distractions that take your mind off negative thoughts and feelings. It can be through supporting others, and giving to others in ways that bring meaning. It can be through connecting with trusted friend and family. But one of the most important practices I believe in to bring more calm and ease, is meditation. It's become a non-negotiable in my day, for years now, and I encourage you, if you don't already, to find a practice that supports you. If you would like support with learning meditation, then I am here for you.
I also love simple breath exercises and what I call 'mini meditations' or 'moments of meditation'. Just taking moments during the day, to stop, take some breaths in and out and bring awareness just to the present moment. Just here, right now. This can really support us to not let any fearful thoughts and worries take over or feel out of our control. Just breathing in and out, with our awareness in the present moment, can be a simple and powerful way to bring more ease and calm into our whole beings. I know it may feel hard to meditate with pain especially, but I also know that with practice, when we can quieten the nervous system, switch off some of the over-stimulated neural pathways that can heighten sensations, then our reaction and intensity of pain can lessen and feel more manageable. Or we may just notice that we are not focusing on it so much. It takes practice, but meditation brings so much healing and support within ourselves.
Having a routine is so helpful. A morning routine, and a night time routine. Getting enough sleep. Going to bed at a certain time and getting up at the same time each day. Even if the day is hard or symptoms are flaring up. Having a routine not only creates an uplifting intention for how our day will be, but also allows us to embrace what is, and to accept what is, with more calm and ease.
My day, right now, looks a little like this - greeting the day, a mediation, showering, breakfast, taking my dog out for a slow wander, listening to something uplifting, then starting my work day. Having breaks where I take my dog out again, just short little walks, sitting in the sunshine if it's out for a while, reading a book, another meditation in the afternoon, I call a friend or family, I listen to music to uplift and distract me, I cook healthy food for lunch and dinner, and have set times I eat as well (and not later than 7pm at night, for digestion and better quality sleep). I watch a movie or listen to an online comedy show or concert. Or I play my piano or guitar. Or I might write (I'm spending a lot of time writing during lockdown). I try and switch off all technology by 8.30pm, have a mug of chamomile tea, I turn the lights down, have a warm shower, and then bed by 9.30pm. Early mornings and early nights work well for me right now, and it really does support my body, spirit and mind, to have this routine and of course, to be flexible with this too.
Some days, you might need time for rest, or to adjust your day if things feel too much or too hard. This is all part of creating a routine and way of being that supports you and your needs. It's all part of self compassion, listening and knowing what is and feels right for you. Knowing what's priority and what's not. And ways to come back to listening to yourself, what your body is needing, what your heart is calling you to, and the question I love to ask - what will support me, right now. And choosing that.
I also love 'pacing' as a supportive way to manage each day. It's similar to the 'spoonie' concept you may be familar with - where you have a number of spoons each day, and each task or thing you do, takes up a certain amount of energy and number of spoons. So you can learn to create your day around managing your energy, which can feel supportive especially if you struggle with fatigue. For those with pain or other symptoms, 'pacing' is so helpful. It's about knowing what's important and what's not, what's priority and what can be left for later or another day. Taking breaks. Pacing tasks rather than doing too much at once and then having to manage a flare-up or extra symptoms. Having strict but compassionate boundaries with yourself around this too. This can really help to support yourself and to manage things in a way that makes you feel good and empowered and that you are taking control of things for yourself. It also means that if you are able to do these things, and pace things, then you can feel you are achieving and succeeding, and feel more confident and positive too. All of this is so important - having these tools and resources and ways of being that allow you to create your day, to support yourself, and to know that you can manage things for yourself with more ease.
Self belief, self worth and empowering ourselves is so essential to managing what we live with in a more uplifting way. Whilst also being true to ourselves and acknowledging that things can and do feel hard. Some days will be harder than others. You might like to remind yourself of times you've had flare ups or hard times before, and ways you've moved through these. And the saying - this too shall pass - is true and something I like to always lean into.
It is so important to acknowledge when you feel down or low, and to connect and reach out for support. To not feel you have to go through everything alone, as it can feel isolating and lonely in these lockdown times, even more so. There are ways we can learn to manage things in a healthier and more supportive way, and to know that we do have the strength and resilience within ourselves to do this and to keep carrying on each and every day. Some of the most resilient people I know and have met, have lived with health conditions and illness or through deep adversity through these times too, and you may never know about it, or the struggle they are facing or navigating, because they may just not talk about it. Finding someone you trust in for support, is everything, and I encourage you to do this, in these times right now.
I know how much those with health challenges and/ or pain need extra support, compassion and love, right now. And if this is you, please do reach out. In these difficult times, I am making my support sessions more accessible and affordable, and am offering a special 50% discount for July and August. This special offer can be for individual sessions, or for a series of sessions during this time. I would love to support you in all the ways I know, for you to feel less alone, and more confident and able to care for your whole well being and manage and support yourself in all the ways that you need.
With love x
ps. Send me an email to book your sessions - https://www.katiejanewellness.com/working-together.html
pps. I have just uploaded two meditations to Insight Timer which you may enjoy and feel supportive right now too - https://insighttimer.com/katiejane
Katie Jane is a Life Coach, Health Coach, Counsellor, Nutritionist, Naturopath, Holistic Psychologist, Mentor, Writer, Meditation teacher. She has been working in the wellness industry for over 15 years and brings all of these qualifications and skills, along with her own lived experiences through challenges, changes and transitions. Katie works with clients in private practice in Melbourne, as well as online and over skype to other parts of the globe. Her approach to life and wellbeing is truly holistic and unique for each individual. She supports and coaches clients to make powerful changes in their hearts and in their lives.