As we all try to understand and adjust to these ever-changing times that have been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, comparisons are being made between now and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. More specifically, we have seen the mental health effects that came from the 1918 pandemic and we are starting to see the reappearance of these anxieties in the world today. These anxieties are associated with health threats, concerns about economics, and about unknown risks.
We know that pandemics have long term effects on our mental health and therefore our overall well-being. Spanish flu survivors reported significant changes to their mental health including sleep disturbances, depression, mental distraction, dizziness, difficulties coping at work, to name a few. Therefore, supporting our mental and physical health is key!
As Netflix, the couch, and the daily news are all vying for our constant attention, let’s hit the self-focus button! Try these starters to shift the focus back on to you.
- Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-wall)
This fun yoga pose dates back centuries and can be used to calm your mind by releasing stress. When your body is in this inverted pose, enough blood reaches the brain to give it relief from anxiety. If you are unsure how to do this, here’s how:
- Lie down on your back on the floor near a wall
- Raise your legs and let them rest comfortably along the wall
- Put your arms on both sides of your body and relax
- Close your eyes and breathe in deeply. Relax.
- Remain in this position for 5 – 20 minutes
2. Sip on relaxing herbs
Herbs that help to relax the nervous system are called nervines. Some of my go-to relaxation herbs, as well as the ones with a significant amount of research behind them, include lavender, passionflower, and chamomile. Each of these herbs have shown to have meaningful benefits on reducing symptoms of anxiety. Our favourite way to consume these herbs is through warm teas. Try one or a combination of these to experience the calming benefits that they offer. Avoid using with any sleep aides as they can have cumulative effects.
Health food stores offer these herbs in blends and also in loose-leaf form. Feeling adventurous? Purchase the loose-leaf versions of these herbs and concoct your own blend. Add 1 cup of each into a mason jar. Mix well and then add 3 tablespoons to a teaball. For a stronger taste, steep herbs for 15 minutes. Enjoy!
3. Increase magnesium-rich foods (or try a supplement)
We know that stress and anxiety can deplete our magnesium levels. Magnesium as a mineral has long been known as a general relaxant. Our soils are largely depleted of magnesium, meaning individuals are getting less and less magnesium from our foods. Therefore, emphasizing foods that are high in magnesium will help to replete our levels. These foods include spinach, avocados, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, bananas, black beans and cacao. Add these foods to your diet and liberally.
When these foods don’t make it into your daily routine, consider a magnesium supplement. This is often one of the most recommended supplement by ND’s. This mineral can help with tense muscles, feelings of anxiety and restless sleeps. Talk to your ND for some extra guidance on dosage and forms.
We encourage you to feel the best you can in these strange times. Give yourself the support you need and as best as possible, shift the focus back to self-care.