2020 Covid lockdowns, fear, paranoia, human suffering, anxiety, depression, spiralling misinformation, disinformation and deceit. 2021 Covid, rinse and repeat plus riots in KZN creating profound dysregulation and depression. Load shedding, global power and supply chain crises, floods and increased sensitisation to natural disasters. Russia-Ukraine war and mass geopolitical and financial upheaval. The last few years have left us shaken, baffled and bruised. And more likely than not, there is more to come. This article looks at a few time-tested, inexpensive and science backed strategies to improve our resilience.
Move more – Take time to develop a personal and honouring connection with your body through movement. Develop balance, strength and all-around functional mobility. Loss of muscle (sarcopenia) is an insidious and fragilizing force affecting all of us past our mid-30s. If one is not actively pursuing the development of strength one is losing it. It can be as simple or complex as one wishes. A cheap and nasty example of a strength workout: 3 sets of 10 to 20 press ups, 3 sets of 10 to 20 squats, 3 sets of 10 to 60 second planks, 3 sets of 5 to 10 lunges. Repeated 3 times a week. Build each week. Just do It!
Do difficult things – Expose yourself daily to a novel environmental stressor (like cold) or to a movement stressor. Cold exposure has proven benefits including circulatory, mood, immunity. Begin with 15 seconds of cold at the end of your shower. Each week increase the time by 5 to 10 seconds. Gain control of your breathing while in the “shock phase” of the cold. Once you can comfortably regulate to this “shock” after 6 weeks, try a once-a-week ice bath which is 4 to 6kgs of ice in a cold water bath. Be playful – climb in and out as many times as you wish. Have a giggle at yourself and observe how long you can stay calm, breathe and endure.
Prioritise Sleep – Sleep is a genuine panacea. Poor sleep is implicated in more disease than we would imagine, including many chronic pain states. Learn about sleep including the impact of late night artificial light. Honour your fatigue.
Eat Better – Nutrition is one of the cornerstones of health but can also be the cause for a great deal of conflict and confusion. I am going to take a pragmatic stance here. Eat less (intermittent fasting), consume good quality protein and fats, consume more vegetables, drink more water, consume significantly less sugar and refined carbohydrates, relish your coffee (while trying to drink less of it) and practice doing without. Fast and Feast. Relish human connection while eating meals. Celebrate the togetherness associated with eating.
Breathe – and develop a relationship to your breath by exploring different breathing techniques. Learn the profound up and down regulating capacities our breath has on our bodies and minds.
Be in nature – take greenness in. Let the timeless wisdom of nature remind you of the bigger picture and of your place in it.
Don’t fear monger or succumb to fear mongering by doing your own research. Ask questions about your health and well-being. Take disparate perspectives and explore common sense. Tough times force the hardy qualities of our essence to emerge. We are genetically, evolutionarily, psychologically and spiritually adaptable. Transition yourself toward depth, hardiness and flexibility. Our health can be a profound resource in challenging times and it is potently and easily manipulable.
Please stay connected to learn more about our monthly workshops and explorations dealing with the topics of resilience and health.