Practical Ideas for Changing Your Relationship to Isolation

A few tips for feeling less isolated:

  • Connect or reconnect with friends and family – staying in contact with loved ones can prevent loneliness and isolation. If your family don’t live with you, technology can help you stay in touch. Visit friends on video or through a phone call or write letters!
  • Get out and about – we may be living in a time of social distancing but you can still go for a walk, take a long drive, or stop by by a friend’s house with encouraging messages on poster board. Get at least 30 minutes of sunshine each day for a boost in mood.
  • Get involved in your community – We have access to so many online opportunities that help us engage with new people. Try a new hobby and connect with likeminded hobbyists on social media, join a club that meets online, join an online support group, or enroll in an online class. Try looking at your local library or community centre websites for things that might be interesting to you.
  • Volunteer – helping others is a great way to help yourself feel more connected. There are still volunteer opportunities that involve social distancing, the important thing is to shift your focus to how you can impact the lives of others.
  • Consider getting a pet –pets are wonderful companions and can provide comfort and support during times of stress, ill-health, or isolation.
  • Get support – If loneliness and social isolation are causing you distress, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor, counselor, or a trusted person. Check out our Community Resource page for support services.

Visit our Daily Challenges page for continuing ideas for staying healthy, remaining grounded, and feeling less isolated.

Stress Affecting Your Gut? These 4 Tips Can Help

When was the last time you checked in with yourself, particularly when it came to your stress levels?

No matter the stressor, it’s important to consider the impact of stress on your health and well-being. After all, too much stress can take a mental and physical toll on your body — this includes wreaking havoc on your gut and digestion.

The effect stress has on your gut depends on the length of time you’re experiencing stress:

  • Short-term stress can cause you to lose your appetite and your digestion to slow down.
  • Long-term stress can trigger gastrointestinal (GI) issues, like constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, or an upset stomach.
  • Chronic stress over extended periods of time may lead to more serious issues, like irritable bowel syndrome and other GI disorders.

One of the keys to better digestion is regular stress management. Reducing stress can lower inflammation in the gut, ease GI distress, and keep you nourished, since your body can focus on absorbing the nutrients you need.

If you find your stress levels are affecting your digestion, below you’ll find four tips to help improve your gut.

Practice yoga

To boost and support digestion, make sure you’re getting enough physical activity on a consistent basis, like walking and running.

Exercises like Hatha or Iyengar yoga, which focus on alignment and posture, may also alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms and improve stress outcomes.

Try mindful meditation

Scientific researchTrusted Source also suggests that a mindful meditation practice, where you develop an increased awareness of your daily life, may help. Meditation along with deep breathing techniques may lower inflammation, a marker of stress in the body. In turn, this may relieve an overstressed digestive system.

When was the last time you checked in with yourself, particularly when it came to your stress levels?

No matter the stressor, it’s important to consider the impact of stress on your health and well-being. After all, too much stress can take a mental and physical toll on your body — this includes wreaking havoc on your gut and digestion.

The effect stress has on your gut depends on the length of time you’re experiencing stress:

  • Short-term stress can cause you to lose your appetite and your digestion to slow down.
  • Long-term stress can trigger gastrointestinal (GI) issues, like constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, or an upset stomach.
  • Chronic stress over extended periods of time may lead to more serious issues, like irritable bowel syndrome and other GI disorders.

One of the keys to better digestion is regular stress management. Reducing stress can lower inflammation in the gut, ease GI distress, and keep you nourished, since your body can focus on absorbing the nutrients you need.

If you find your stress levels are affecting your digestion, below you’ll find four tips to help improve your gut.

Practice yoga

To boost and support digestion, make sure you’re getting enough physical activity on a consistent basis, like walking and running.

Exercises like Hatha or Iyengar yoga, which focus on alignment and posture, may also alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms and improve stress outcomes.

Try mindful meditation

Scientific researchTrusted Source also suggests that a mindful meditation practice, where you develop an increased awareness of your daily life, may help.

Meditation along with deep breathing techniques may lower inflammation, a marker of stress in the body. In turn, this may relieve an overstressed digestive system.

Before your next meal, try sitting up straight away from distractions, and take 2 to 4 rounds of deep breathing. Breathing in for a 4-count, holding for 4, and exhaling for a 4-count.

Do this each time you sit down to enjoy a meal to help your body relax and get ready for digestion (i.e. rest and digest mode).

Eat prebiotics and probiotics

When it comes to your diet, reach for foods that promote good gut bacteria, like prebiotics and probiotics.

Fruits and vegetables with inulin, like asparagus, banana, garlic, and onions, contain prebiotics. Fermented foods, like kefir, kimchi, kombucha, natto, sauerkraut, tempeh, and yogurt all contain probiotics.

Prebiotics and probiotics can alter the bacteria makeup in the gut microbiome and create the ideal environment for more good bacteria to flourish and support digestion.

Kick the smoking habit

If you reach for a cigarette when your stress levels are on the rise, it’s time to rethink this coping technique.

Heart disease and respiratory diseases are most commonly associated with cigarette smoking but research also shows that the bad habit can affect your digestive system as well.

Smoking can increase your risk of developing peptic ulcers, GI diseases, and related cancers. If you smoke, consider making a plan and consulting your doctor or healthcare practitioner to help you cut back or give up smoking completely.

A huge thank you to McKel Hill, MS, RD, the founder ofNutrition Stripped, a healthy living website dedicated to optimizing well-being all over the globe through recipes, nutrition advice, fitness, and more. 

Drawing From an Empty Well: Making Sure You Keep a ‘Care Budget’

Even during normal times, making sure we have the time and the energy for… anything can be a challenge. During a quarantine, a lot of people are finding that it’s even harder. Are you struggling trying to figure out how to take care of every single member of your household, your extended family, and your friends — let alone yourself? Are you alone and fraught with worry, frozen by the fear and anxiety? Are you in survival mode?

Breathe. It’s okay. We all are. That’s why it’s maybe more important now than ever to take stock. Prioritize things that need to be done and people you need to take care of. And don’t forget that you are one of those people. Perhaps even the most important person. You cannot draw energy to take care of others if your well is empty.

Vice recently published a thought-provoking article about making a care budget for yourself. Check it out here. It lays out the steps for founding your budget and making sure you can keep it stocked.

The gist is this: prioritize. Remember that not everything has to be done right now. Not everyone needs your constant attention. Pay attention to the signs that your body gives you about being run down, hungry, short-tempered, and adjust accordingly. Replenish your well, or your budget, so that you can draw from it to take of things that need to be done. But remember this isn’t a race. There is no yardstick against which you will be measured at the end of this. You know yourself better than anyone. After all, we’re all doing the best we can.

So think about what you need to replenish your well. Think about what you need to do and what small steps you can do to complete them. This quote from the article sums it up quite well:

As you get going, you may start to think that if doing a little is good, doing a lot is even better. This is not true. The best thing you can do in this moment is to be realistic. Think about what you can do now, during a global crisis where a trip to the grocery store requires the mental preparation and acuity normally reserved for taking the LSAT, not what you could achieve in the world of three months ago, where conveniences like Ubers, free two-day shipping, spontaneous drinks at a bar, and hugs still existed.

This is what self-care looks like. It’s not just face masks and bath bombs — though, those are great! Self-care is about figuring out what you need to keep going. And above all else, self-care is about compassion — for others, but most importantly for yourself.

We’re going to be at home like this for a while, and things are likely going to get worse before they get better, so resist the urge to go all-out. It’s good for absolutely no one if you burn through your reserves and flame out early on—and, if you need to reason with yourself about this sometimes in order not to go too overboard, remind yourself that you’ll be more helpful in the long run if you’re considerate and selective about your care in the short-term.

 

Source: Rachel Mill, “What to Do When Everyone Needs Support but You’re Only One Person,” Vice.com

Allowing Yourself To Mourn

The emergence and quick spread of COVID-19 has made us all reassess our lives — what we’re doing, what we want to do, what we’ve had to shift to an alternate course, and what we’ve had to postpone or cancel. We’re in our homes more (good! And bad!) and in public places less (good! And bad!). Everything about every single one of our lives has changed, and with that change comes a million different emotions. And every one of those emotions is valid.

Let’s repeat and make it personal: every one of my emotions right now is valid.

As we each navigate these — let’s admit it — truly bizarre times, we have to remember that we’re each processing the change, the fear, the hope in different ways and at different paces. It’s not a race, it’s a spectrum.

While some people may be able to turn this self-isolation and quarantine into a time of relaxation, or may feel bursts of creativity during their newfound time at home, not all of us feel that way. A great number of us are stressed out or rightfully scared. It’s important to remember to take a moment and sit with those feelings and see what those emotions are telling us.

This Isn’t a Normal Time

If you’re like me, you’re trying to get on with your life the best you can: working from home, taking classes from home, getting fresh air from the open window or going for a quick walk in the evening where you can be away from other people. You may also be like me and you’ve felt overcome with emotion while trying to do things that wouldn’t have caused you to even bat an eye when things were normal.

But it’s important to remember that this isn’t a normal time. A friend recently said something to me while I was expressing my deep fear and anger at feeling the pressure to maintain normal productivity while working and schooling from home — and I could just hear the proverbial record scratch when it sunk in. She said, “you are allowed to mourn your normal life.”

Mourn. I hadn’t considered that that’s what I was doing. Mourning. My life B.C. Before COVID-19. My life when I could do what I wanted, when I wanted. My life when I could go into a crowded park without a second thought. When I could drive across town to visit friends. Or maybe when you could send your kids off to school, or visit your elderly parents. When we could go into our offices, see our doctors, go to our grocery stores without worrying about staying at least six feet away from people or coating ourselves in hand sanitizer (if we could find it), without constantly being on the hunt for more toilet paper. Allow yourself to mourn.

Grieve What Was and What Wasn’t—But Grow With It

We can grieve for the way life was and for the plans that had to be cancelled, but we also have to learn to grow from it. To grow with it. Denying that anything has changed is doing yourself a disservice because things are changing whether you want them to or not. Take a moment to yourself to reflect on it. Clinging to the lives that we knew don’t serve us right now either. Hopefully in a couple of months we can get back to a semblance of the way we used to live, but it’s helps more now to acknowledge the change and move forward without looking back. Instead, try to replace these negative reactions with opportunities for growth.

We don’t all have to be the next expert bread baker if we’re tired. We don’t have to be the next TikTok sensation if we’re worried about still having to go to work every day, or caring or children, or for ourselves or family members if they get sick. These people are outliers and we need to recognize them as such. Instead, give yourself the space to process. Get creative in a different kind of way.

Find ways to take a deep breath once a day. Get everyone quarantined together to do it.

Find alternate ways to let our your excess energy by singing, painting, dancing, or just allowing yourself five minutes for frenetic movement.

Find alternate ways to see your friends by hosting virtual video happy hours. Video chat with grandparents so they can read your kids bedtime stories.

Find a way to be yourself and to feel yourself during these unknowable, uncertain times. If you are reading this, you are still here and you are still allowed to occupy space even if it looks different than before.

Learn to Thrive Again

You may not have the bandwidth and free time that other people may — don’t let social medial lie to you and make you think everyone but you does — but what you can do is learn from this. Learn about yourself and about others. Learn to breathe. Learn to confide in others. We’re all in this together. Learn to redirect your energy. Learn to mourn and learn to accept that our old lives are done for now. But things will go back to a new normal — after we’ve done our part to “flatten the curve,” after scientists way smarter than most of us could ever hope to be develop a way to treat and eradicate this.

After we’ve changed the way we thrive

Touch Deprivation in the Time of COVID-19

WHAT IS TOUCH DEPRIVATION?

Touch deprivation (sometimes called skin hunger) happens when we have little or no physical contact with another person. This might seem strange, but physical touch is more important than you think. There have been various research studies and experiments on the subject.

According to the Nordic Cuddling, a company in the UK which specializes in the art and therapy of cuddling, there are seven signs you might be suffering from touch deprivation.

  1. Aggressive behavior
  2. Body image issues
  3. High stress levels
  4. Loneliness
  5. Mental health issues like depression
  6. Sexual dysfunction
  7. Fear of attachment and unsatisfying relationship.

You can read more about these signs here on their website..

HOW DO YOU HANDLE TOUCH DEPRIVATION DURING SELF-ISOLATION?

Many cultures around the world feature touch in everyday lives in an integral way. But many places, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and other European countries are already considered touch-deprived nations. While we self-isolate during this time of COVID-19, it’s important to remember the importance of our sense of touch.

If you live with friends or loved ones

If you are lucky enough to live with friends or loved ones (and you are symptom free), try to touch or hug every day. If that’s not something all parties are comfortable with, try to establish or maintain emotional and intimate relationships. The human connection during this time is important.

If you live alone

Being alone during self-isolation or quarantine is especially difficult. Though physical tough may be out of the question in the name of personal and community safety, there are ways to simulate human touch. If you have animals, pet and cuddle them as often as you can. It’s not human contact, but it’s a good substitute.Taking hot baths or showers are also useful in keeping our sensory “muscles” active. The same goes for wrapping yourself in a soft, warm blanket. Touch as many things with “texture” as you can. Above all else, rememberers to maintain your human connections through conversation. Call or text loved ones — or better yet, utilize any number of video chat services. The next best thing to face-to-face connection can help us feel closer to normal during these abnormal times. And remember, the isolation won’t last forever.

For more reading on touch deprivation and the power of cuddling, check out these links.

A dire case of ‘skin hunger’ hits hard in self-isolation” – Steve Evans, The Canberra Times

Touch Deprivation: COVID-19’s Unexpected Side Effect” – Nathalia Ortiz, NBC6 South Florida

TEDTalk – Cuddling Can Make Us Better Human Beings

Pump up the Vitamin C

Vitamin C supports your immune system and helps your body use the iron you get from food. Your body also uses it to make collagen, a springy type of connective tissue that makes up parts of your body and helps heal wounds. And it’s an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage. Men need 90 milligrams per day, and women need 75 milligrams. A medium orange has about 70 milligrams, but many other foods are good sources, too.

One serving of any of the foods below contains more than 20 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. This makes these foods “excellent” sources of the vitamin, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The following 20 foods are among the richest sources of vitamin C:

FoodServing sizeMilligrams (mg) per servingPercent of 90 mg daily value (DV)
1Guava, raw1 cup, raw377419%
2Sweet red pepper, raw1 cup, raw190211%
3Tomato juice1 cup, canned170188.9%
4Orange juice1 cup124137.8%
5Sweet green pepper1 cup, raw120133%
6Hot green chili pepper, raw1 pepper, raw109121%
7Oranges1 large fruit97.5108.8%
8Strawberries1 cup, sliced97.6108%
9Papaya1 small fruit95.6106.2%
10Pink grapefruit juice1 cup93.9104.3%
11Broccoli1 cup, raw81.290.2%
12Pineapple chunks1 cup, raw78.987.7%
13Potato1 large vegetable72.780.8%
14Brussels sprouts1 cup, raw74.879.8%
15Kiwifruit1 fruit6471.1%
16Mango1 cup, raw60.166.7%
17Cantaloupe1 cup57.363.7%
18Cauliflower1 cup, raw51.657.3%
19Lemon1 fruit44.549.4%
20White grapefruit½ medium fruit3943.3%

this information was sourced at WebMD.com