Life in lockdown means our worlds are confined to a mere few rooms—that can make it difficult to set boundaries between our professional and personal lives. Where we stress about deadlines is the same place where we eat, sleep and lounge. Once the emails and notifications sneak into our personal time, that’s the start of a slippery, unhealthy slope.
“It means we are always on high alert. We call that chronic or toxic stress,” says Natalie Brunswick, a Toronto-based occupational therapist, adding that we are not meant to be in this state, which is known as “hyperarousal.” It’s the sweaty, racing thoughts, increased heart rate feeling that many of us experience all the time. How do we conquer that? Start with calming your senses using these tips:
Schedule soul-nourishing time
Whether you enjoy morning meditation, burning scented candles, running by the river or turning off your tech to read in bed—schedule it into your day. “When you make yourself a priority, you’re supporting your immune system, your desires and your health and wellness,” says Julie Cass, founder of The Positive Change Group. Make it non-negotiable.
Recognize the power of breathwork
“There’s so much overactivity in our minds which induces fear and stress,” says Cass. Breathwork is one of the best antidotes. It seems almost too simple but both Cass and Brunswick stress the importance of slowing down your breath. Your exhale actually signals to your nervous system that it’s okay to calm down, relax and hit pause on racing thoughts. So when your yoga teacher or meditation guide says breathe in for four seconds and out for eight, there’s science behind that.
Crank those peaceful tunes
Who doesn’t have a favourite Spotify playlist for a chill, lazy Sunday? Play it in the background as a way to keep stress and anxiety at bay. “Sound is hardwired to be soothing,” says Brunswick. That’s why, as she explains, a baby or young child will calm down while hearing a lullaby regardless of what language it’s in.
Sprinkle small self-care rituals throughout your day
Learning to calm your senses in this cluttered, noisy world doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. Finding mini pockets of peace throughout the day can look like drinking a glass of lemon water before your morning coffee, keeping your favourite hand lotion on your desk or leaving the phone in another room for an hour. “It’s simple but such a game-changer,” says Cass. “It’s the little changes that give us energy throughout the day.”