Self-Care Strategies for Tough Times

January 14, 2022



In the Time of COVID (as we may be referring to it years from now), things got pretty rough for most of us. And if you were already struggling with your mental health or a child’s mental health, you know it was like a double whammy. We were stretched to our limit on all fronts–keeping our kids and ourselves safe, engaged, and sane were like three full-time jobs rolled into one! So here are some things I did (and didn’t do) to help me get through– tips that are good for any time of crisis. 

  

Here’s what I did...

1. Create a Support System Call List (and use it!).

A. Make a list of all your most non-judgmental, safe-feeling sources of support–whether family, friends, professionals, support groups, Facebook groups, or hotlines. This won’t be everyone in your life; most of us have at least some well-meaning people in our lives that just won’t get it, or who, for whatever reason, we’re not comfortable sharing highly sensitive information with. And of course, there are times we are just too emotionally exhausted to explain the situation while worrying about potentially negative reaction. Know that even if your list is short now, it will grow. I began this journey feeling certain that no one could understand my particular struggle, but along the way discovered so many unexpected allies.

BConsider the types of support you need. I know for myself, there were days I just need a lighthearted conversation; other days I was looking to commiserate with someone who was equally invested in mine and my son’s well-being; and others, I needed specific recommendations from someone who’d faced similar challenges. With this in mind, write down next to each name, what that person/group offers you.

For instance:           

  • Mom: Comfort, compassion
  • YMHP Parent Support Network: Understanding, guidance
  • FB Group:  professional recommendations
  • Parenting Coach: Insights, parenting techniques
  • Crisis Hotline: Immediate professional support & referrals

  • Having this list did three things for me: first, it was a comforting reminder that I was not alone; second, it helped me identify the kind of support I needed in a given moment; and finally–and most importantly–it encouraged me to reach out when I needed that support.

    C. Get comfortable reaching out. This can be tough for a lot of us; we may be embarrassed, afraid of appearing weak, worried about judgment, or just simply tired of talking about our problems. One thing is certain though, trying to manage things alone is hard as hell, and not nearly as effective. Support is available, you just need to practice asking for it!

    2. Create a map of hope

    When things look bleak, we need hope. Not fantasy-style hope, but hope based on real possibility. This may take some creative imagining, but you will never regret the time you spent thinking up all these good things!

    A. You can use a sheet of paper or posterboard, depending upon how big you want your ‘hope map’ to be, and where it will end up (I like mine big and visible ). Then choose three colored markers and write the words Immediate, Near Future, and Long Term in different colors, wherever you like on the page, leaving room beneath each heading.

    B. Now, ask yourself this question: What do I have in my life right now that feels good? This can be anything you enjoy doing, person you enjoy being with, or place you like spending time. Beneath the heading Immediate, write out as many of these things as you can without editing.

    C. Next, write your response to this question under the heading Near FutureWhat positive things can I foresee happening in the near future (ie. taking a trip to visit our cousins, resuming our weekly family walks)? Try to visualize these experiences until you have a felt-sense of their comforting realness.

    D. Finally, under the heading Long Term, finish this sentence: I am so looking forward to the time when… Allow yourself to imagine the very best of what’s possible for you and/or your child. It’s okay if your list is ambitious, in fact, it should be! You want this to be an exercise in hopefulness.

    I feel bolstered whenever I read my hope map. Every one of these existing and potential positives is like an emotional nutrient. And as long as I have enough of this nutrition, I can get myself from point a to point b, however rocky the terrain in between. This is also a great exercise to do with your child!

    3. Two highly-targeted meditations every day: The Regulater & The Elevater.

    These meditations are based on a method I developed called CACAO, which combines the tools of conscious breathing, awareness, compassion, appreciation, and optimism, to regulate your nervous system and boost your mood. I recommend doing The Elevater (intentional spelling :) first thing in the morning, and before you go to sleep at night; and using The Regulater whenever you’re feeling anxious or just out of sorts. You can listen to them both here and download the cheat sheet’ versions here.

    And here’s what I didn't do

    1. Guilt Myself

    It’s hard not to wonder how much of our own, or our child’s suffering is due to something we’ve done wrong. And the reality is, sometimes it is! For instance, as loving and devoted a parent as I am, that first year of COVID did not bring out the best in me. I lost my cool far more than I consider acceptable, spent far too much time glued to my newsfeed, probably went overboard on safety measures (I know there are many who would insist I did!), shared too much about COVID in an attempt to scare B into being more careful. And these days, I wonder if I’m not being safe enough.

    It’s equally hard not to question yourself when things go awry. Amongst my top 10 greatest self-questioning hits: “Did I miss critical cues?” “Was I not sensitive enough to his emotional needs?” “Was I too strict?”, “Did I not show enough compassion when he had meltdowns?”, “Should I have been more patient when he was bouncing off the walls?”…

    Now, I think these are all reasonable questions, and worth asking. But only if done in a constructive way. So, I recommend, with whatever questions you’re asking yourself: ask the question simply, answer thoughtfully, then make any necessary adjustments and amends. That’s it. Because here’s the thing: guilt is not a motivator. It saps us of the energy we need to make positive changes, and causes us to question our very ability to make said changes. We can take responsibility for our mistakes without heading down the rabbit hole of self-recrimination!

    2. Curb my bad habits

    Like nightly Netflix binging, FB scrolling, over-caffeinating, overeating. Of course, I tried to keep my indulgences this side of destructive, but with everything going on, I knew it was not the time to amp up the self-discipline.

    3. Worry about the future

    We can inform ourselves, hold onto hope, and stay proactive. And that’s all we can do. As I consistently told myself: Plan wisely for the future then forget it.

     

     

    Destinations

    January 13, 2022

     

    The MAYFLOWER INN & SPA

    The New England Good Life

    Located in the idyllic town of Washington in Connecticut, Mayflower Inn & Spa is an exquisite country retreat, nestled in 58 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and woodland. Just two hours’ drive from New York City, it is renowned as one of northeast America’s most distinguished luxury hideaways. Memories are made easily when you stay at our boutique hotel in Litchfield County, a portal to a simpler time, where the definitive measure of the good life is in soul-stirring moments rooted in the idyllic countryside.

    _______________________________________________________________

    Mohonk Mountain House

    The Hudson Valley’s Most Iconic Resort

    Founded by the Smiley Family in 1869, our Victorian castle resort is nestled in the Hudson Valley, only 90 miles north of New York City. Surrounded by 40,000 acres of pristine forest, our National Historic Landmark resort offers farm-to-table cuisine and an award-winning spa.

    Immersive Experiences

     

    Grace Farms

     

    Sharon Prince, CEO and Founder, envisioned that intentionally-designed space could communicate a set of values and advance good in the world for years to come. Pritzker Prize-winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, of the Japanese firm SANAA, embodied this vision into the River building’s design. The result is a hopeful environment that has become a three-dimensional expression of Grace Farms Foundation’s mission to create grace and peace in our local and global communities.

    Grace Farms’ open architecture is designed to break down barriers between people and nature. The extensive use of wood and spectacular 360-degree views of the landscape creates a warm invitation to pause and reflect, while encouraging engagement with each other.

    The land on which Grace Farms sits – almost 80 acres of natural landscape with 10 diverse habitats – creates an environment to bring together diverse communities around common pursuits. By preserving our wetlands and forests as well as planting more than 500 trees and 1,000 native perennials, Grace Farms has enhanced biodiversity and contributed to the fresh air and clean water that are necessary for healthy ecosystems and human flourishing.

    ________________________________________________________

    Stone Barns

    Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is the product of a collaborative agricultural and gastronomic experiment. Its seeds were planted in the 1990s by the Rockefeller family, together with conservation planners, organic farmers, chefs and many others who came together to set a common vision and purpose for the land.

    Their goal was to make the beauty and agricultural heritage of the property accessible to the public in hopes of establishing a dynamic campus of farmers, chefs and educators working together to inspire and reconnect the local community to food and farming. They envisioned a place where people could experience the land, farming and an ecological food culture; a place that would bring inspiration and innovation to our regional food system, informed by creativity and experimentation.

    Oh, and their café has the best food! Hopefully will reopen soon :)

    ________________________________________________________

     

    John Jay Homestead

    John Jay Homestead offers countless immersive and hands-on educational, recreational, and inspirational experiences for visitors of all ages. Come explore today!

    John Jay's Bedford House

    During twenty-seven years of service to his state and nation, John Jay looked forward to the day when he would retire with his wife and family to “the house on my farm in Westchester County…” During his second term as governor of New York, Jay had renovations made to his 1787 farmhouse in preparation for his retirement from public life. He was finally able to move to the house in 1801. Visitors to John Jay Homestead State Historic Site are invited to take a docent-led tour of John Jay’s Bedford House. The historic house’s interior has been restored to reflect its appearance during John Jay’s lifetime. Well over 50% of the furnishings are original to John Jay and his family.

    Carriage Barn Education & Visitor Center

    More than 200 years after it was built, John Jay’s original Carriage Barn has been given new life as the Homestead’s Education & Visitor Center. Open daily May through October, the Carriage Barn hosts interactive, educational exhibits; a 12-minute biographical video about John Jay and his accomplishments; our premier hands-on Discovery Center; a gift shop; and a reading room.

    Discovery Centers

    Six historic buildings at John Jay Homestead feature hands-on, immersive Discovery Centers, each focused on a different theme. Designed as interactive exhibits and exploration areas, the

    Discovery Centers help young visitors and their families learn about life on the Jay Farm during the 19th and 20th centuries in a fun and engaging way.

     

    Special Exhibition – Moments in Time: Photographs from the Jay Family Collection

    Photographs have a capacity to connect us with people and places long gone, perhaps better than any other pictorial medium except film. Life is captured in an instant: a moment of joy, or wonder, or wistful reflection. The Jay-Iselin family, who lived at John Jay Homestead, compiled an extensive collection of family photographs over many decades, from early daguerreotypes to modern snapshots. Moments in Time will include photographs stretching from the 1850s to the 1950s, depicting the family’s growth, its travels, and its participation in daily life and special occasions.

    Gardens

    John Jay Homestead has many beautiful gardens, lovingly tended to by dedicated organizations. The formal Sundial Garden, originally installed in the mid-19th century is cared for by Bedford Garden Club. The Herb Garden, created in 1991 is cultivated by members of the New York Unit of the Herb Society of America. Rusticus Garden Club restored the 1924 Terrace Garden and continues to maintain it today. The North Courtyard Garden was created in the 1990s by Hopp Ground Garden Club. They oversee this garden and a restored Children’s Garden adjacent to the Schoolhouse. InterGenerate oversees the vegetable garden.

    Explorer Backpacks

    We have three backpacks you can take with you while you explore the Homestead’s natural environment. Junior Explorers can use magnifying glasses and binoculars to study birds and animal tracks. Handy guidebooks are included as well to help explorers identify birds, mammals and plants. Findings can be recorded in the journal and the sketch pad and colored pencils can be used to draw a picture of the experience. We also have backpacks for Bird Watching and Landscape Art.

    Geocaching

    Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. If you’d like to place a geocache at John Jay Homestead, please see a staff member for permit information.

    Perimeter Trail

    John Jay Homestead is a beautiful place for a hike. Our perimeter trail offers scenic views and a moderate terrain.

    ________________________________________________________

    Ward Pound Ridge Reservation



    The 4,315-acre park makes Ward Pound Ridge Reservation the county’s largest park. With its varied terrain, landscapes, and miles of wooded trails, the park provides a variety of activities in all seasons. There are areas for picnicking, lean-to camping, fishing and cross-country skiing. Originally part of Cortlandt Manor, the reservation was settled by farmers from Connecticut.

    The name Pound Ridge is credited to the Indians who originally lived in the area. They had a local pound in which they kept game on the hoof until they needed it for food. The Indians built an enclosure of saplings driven into the ground and drove their game into the pound.
    ________________________________________________________

     The Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden

    The Hammond Museums mission is to stimulate interest in appreciating the artistic traditions of the East in the West through exhibitions from the museum's collections, music, dance and theatre; to preserve and develop the Japanese Stroll Garden which serves as a model for teaching people about the value of the environment, horticultural design and Eastern traditions through lectures, walking tours, classes and workshops. And finally, to promote the transformation of Eastern Culture in the West through the efforts of artists and performers in the Greater New York Metropolitan Region, involving them in the presentation of work, performances and teaching opportunities, especially for school groups.

    ________________________________________________________

    CARAMOOR

    Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts is a destination for exceptional music, captivating programs, spectacular gardens and grounds, and wonderful moments with friends and family. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality. Its mission also includes mentoring young professional musicians and providing educational programs for young children centered around music.

    Audiences are invited to explore the lush grounds, tour the historic Rosen House, enjoy a pre-concert picnic, and discover beautiful music in the relaxed settings of the Venetian Theater, Spanish Courtyard, Music Room of the Rosen House, and the magnificent gardens.

    Our grounds are open to the public Friday – Sunday, 10:00am – 4:00pm, through September 26.  Caramoor’s hours will be adjusted for private events on the following dates: 9/25 – Grounds close at 3:00pm

    Farmer's Markets

     

    John Jay Farmer’s Market

    The John Jay Homestead Farm Market is a weekly outdoor, certified market which provides the finest New York-grown, fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, seafood, breads, specialty items and more on a historic farm setting. Every Saturday, customers can expect to find certified organic and biodynamic produce, ethically-raised, organic meat and eggs, as well as a wide variety of artisan food items with dozens of weekly vendors.

    While at John Jay Homestead, patrons can also enjoy a walk, sight see, and explore flower, herb, and vegetable gardens or picnic on the historic grounds of John Jay Homestead.

    Market Hours 9:00am to 2:00pm

    ____________________________________________________________

    Fable Farm

    Located on Route 134 right off the Taconic State Parkway, The Market at Fable opened in 2015 to act as a Food Hub for local farms and small businesses. Come say hello to our farmers, grab some delicious produce, and meet our beautiful free-range chickens.

    Our produce is the freshest you can get. Each herb, leafy green, and vegetable is grown locally, sustainably, and with our commitment to quality and taste. Our chickens are pasture-raised which not only creates happy hens, but delicious and nutritious eggs as well. We make sure our plants and chickens receive the nutrition they need so that you do too.

    To order Contactless Barnside Pickup or Delivery visit our online store here. Please note the store is updated every Tuesday at 10am and orders must be made by midnight on Thursday. Orders are then prepared for contactless delivery or pickup.

    Fable’s selection includes Heirloom Tomatoes, Mesclun Mixes, Squash, Radishes, Garlic, Free-Range Eggs, Microgreens, and more. The Market features these farm fresh crops as well as other produce grown by local farms in the area. If you are a chef please contact us three months in advance if you would like a consistent weekly supply of a certain ingredient.

    The Market is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10:30am to 4pm. During the COVID-19 pandemic masks and social distancing required. To stay updated with our farm and market availability you can subscribe to our marketplace mailer.

    Given the economic impact on farms and small businesses, we appreciate your support. Your purchases in our Market not only help us, but the small business owners who provide bread, muffins, soaps, salsa, and other items as well.

    Fable: From Farm to Table
    1311 Kitchawan Road (Route 134)
    Ossining, NY 10562

    ________________________________________________________________

    Rochimbeau Farm

    • All of the veggies we sell come directly from our garden.
    • All of our veggies are organic, although we are not "Certified Organic"
    • We also a carry a great variety of specialty items, unique to our stand.
    • Come say hello to our goats, sheep, pigs and ponies!


    Hours of Operation

    Wednesday - Saturday: 9:00am - 5:00pm
    Sunday: 10:00am - 4:00pm

    ____________________________________________________________

     Farmer and the Fish

    Welcome back to our farm shop with the freshest selection of vegetables, seafood and meats. Offering a daily collection of fresh baked goods and a variety of carefully selected food items, as well as delicious prepared foods for your convenience, there is something for everyone.  For your ease, Shop Online and your items will be ready for pick up. Of course we welcome your call and are happy to assist with delivery, if required.  Happy Shopping!

    ____________________________________________________________

    SNOW HILL FARM

    Local  |  Organic  |  Sustainable

    Snow Hill is a 140 acre organic farm located one hour north of New York City, in the Town of North Salem, New York. Our purpose is to provide the highest quality farm products to local restaurants, markets and the community.


    We are Certified Organic by NOFA New York and Connecticut.

    ________________________________________________________________

    Pound Ridge Organics

    Welcome to Pound Ridge Organics

    We are an organic farm market, c.s.a. teaching kitchen & outdoor classroom located in bucolic pound ridge, n.y. (just one hour north of n.y.c.)

    Our mission is to bring local affordable wholesome food & groceries to our extended community year 'round, while supporting local farms & small businesses that share our high standards and passion for ethically are sustainably produced:

    • meats • poultry • fish • dairy • cheeses • veggies • fruit • bread • desserts • beverages • coffee • snacks • spices • honey • maple products • zero-waste gift items & so much more...

    Heavenly Restaurants

     

    BEDFORD POST INN

    Bedford Post Dining started in the late fall of 2019, when the award winning team behind Alchemy Consulting took over operations of the restaurants at the Bedford Post Inn. Partners Jason Cott (Director of Operations/Owner) and Roxanne Spruance (Executive Chef/Owner) immediately saw the potential of the property and jumped right in. Taking on hands on approach, they are redesigning all of the restaurants with a focus on local purveyors, ingredient-driven menus, attention to detail, and welcoming hospitality.

    The Barn, the casual outlet, with a nod to the south of France, reopened after renovations in February of 2020 to rave reviews. Open for Dinner, Brunch, and Lunch, it quickly became the place to visit. Unfortunately, the opening was short lived as all restaurants in the state were shut down on March 15th due to the pandemic.

    The Barn reopened for Curbside Pickup in mid-may, and has fully re-opened for outdoor dining on the patio as of June 9th.

    The Terrace is the fully outdoor restaurant, with a menu cooked in the wood burning outdoor kitchen. With both an oven and Asador grill, expect a wide range of small plates, perfectly suited to snack on with a bottle of rosé or a pitcher of a signature cocktail.

    The Terrace is slated to open Late Summer 2020.

    The Farmhouse will be the piece de resistance of the restaurant group. Aiming for an impeccable experience, Chef Spruance will be offering both a prix-fixe as well as a tasting menu, alongside a hand selected list of wines from our cellar.

    The Farmhouse is slated to open Spring 2021.

    ____________________________________________________________

    THE INN AT POUND RIDGE

    Chef Jean Georges introduces a casually elegant restaurant ensconced in the picturesque town of Pound Ridge, New York. Here, Jean Georges cultivates a truly seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine, with ingredients sourced from the Hudson Valley and New England, whenever possible. Constructed in 1833 as a residence and serving later as an inn, the building has been painstakingly renovated to preserve as many of the original materials as possible, including four working fireplaces. Thomas Juul-Hansen designed the restaurant’s interior with a modern yet rustic sensibility; zinc and marble accent stone and reclaimed wood. The restaurant’s lighting, artfully conceived by Hervé Descottes, employs paper shades and Edison fixtures to create warmth throughout.

    The down-to-earth food and contemporary country feel makes the Inn at Pound Ridge a convivial, family friendly restaurant frequented by neighbors and tourists alike. Stop in for a glass of wine and a pizza, or come out for a special occasion dinner. With two dining rooms, two full bars, and a candle only illuminated wine cellar for private dining, we are equipped to accommodate events of all sizes, from intimate dinner parties to full-scale weddings. Jean Georges welcomes you, to the Inn at Pound Ridge and looks forward to providing you with a thoroughly enjoyable culinary experience.

    Local Cafes & Shops I love

                                         

     

                                           


    The Reading Room is a bookstore-coffee-baked goods-sweet shop, offering freshly baked items (think croissants, scones, muffins and cookies plus daily rotating specials) and offer a daily choice of specialty sandwiches, soups and salads.
    The menu is pre-prepared and easy to take out, but perfectly cultivated with our high end, quality ingredients and classic style you have come to expect. We think the combining of all of the cozy aspects of Little Joe’s — books and toys and gifts and candy for the kiddos — along with the taste palette of the old Reading Room — will offer a little something for everyone.


                         
       


    We are nestled in the historic village of Mount Kisco, NY in northern Westchester County. Mount Kisco is an extraordinary village - walkable, diverse, and connected to nature. Check out what the New York Times said about our little town!

    Mast Market is an organic market intended for food, family, and community gathering. Designed in collaboration with Mapos, the architecture pays homage to the stables and farmhouses that dot the local landscape with wood slatted carriage doors, a welcoming kitchen island filled with goodies and an open market space clad in ash and pine and filled with homemade goods. You’ll feel like you are at home.

    Come visit our new market featuring our entire line of local, organic pantry items, specialty foods and kitchen wares with a beautiful café that looks over our one of a kind open kitchen. You can watch first hand the local grains being milled into flour, organic coffees being roasted in small batches, vinegars being brewed and blended, sourdough breads being baked (onsite coming soon), chocolate being handcrafted, and so much more.

    Kitchen tours, classes, workshops, demos and events will be back soon. Sign up for our newsletter for updates.


                                         

    Open Daily
    Tuesday - Saturday 9a-7p | Sunday & Monday 9a-5p

     

    Jenny Wolf has dedicated her life to transformation. As Founder and Principal Designer of Jenny Wolf Interiors, she reinvents physical space for a living – knocking down walls to rebuild something stronger and individualized for her clients. Today she takes that concept of reinvention further.

    Jenny continues the hunt.

    The Huntress is her love letter to the idea of transformation and the treasures she collects along the way.

    Mystery and fantasy unfold throughout her intimately designed flagship in Pound Ridge, New York.

    The offerings from The Huntress hold a deep connection to Jenny and her own journey of discovery introducing a beautiful presentation of home furnishings and self nurturing products to the market with a fresh voice. Let your surroundings feed your soul.

    Nurture your home. Nurture your body. Nurture your spirit.


     

     


    At Kimberly House, we are all about the essence of beautiful, handmade creations for you and your home. We believe your home is the cocoon that nurtures and protects your family and the oasis where you restore and balance your life. It should be a place where you and your children experience safety, serenity, and beauty.
    Our mission is to bring you unique products that will touch the senses and resonate with mind and body through handcrafting of natural materials and natural ingredients. You can find some of The Sustainable Haven’s products at our shop, including coffees, teas, water bottles, brew bottles, travel mugs. And when it’s once again safe to do so, The Haven Tasting Lounge will reopen at our Pleasantville and Bedford locations-we can’t wait!


     


    Thank you for visiting and exploring Old New House® (ONH), New York based,    family-owned company specializing in vintage rugs and home decor. Shop            owners Melissa and Dave Dilmaghani started ONH in 2011 on Etsy as one of   
    the sites first handful of vintage rug sellers. In 2015, OldNewHouse.com was   
    created to expand the Dilmaghani's selection of one-of-a-kind home goods
    with emphasis on unique, collectible and decorative antique rugs and vintage
    carpets.


    The Market at Union Hall is a North Salem hub, health market & European coffee bar selling groceries, frozen food, dairy products, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastries, dessert, quiche, grab & go food & gifts!

     

     

                                             

    Hi - My name is Tami and I welcome you to KAHLO.

    I truly love connecting with each person that comes to the store – and hopefully, that makes a difference in their experience. Everything in Kahlo is kind to people and planet, and gives back in some way – so we embrace slow fashion and fair trade, sustainably-focused practices.

    We embrace a conscious lifestyle – one that is thoughtfully lived with an awareness and care for both people and the planet. This includes people near and far, the environment and even our fashion choices. It’s about community and connection… to self and others!

    When you shop at KAHLO you can feel good, look good and do good. Our brands are:
    ETHICALLY MADE IN THE U.S. AND GLOBALLY
    SUSTAINABLY SOURCED
    MAINTAIN A MINIMAL CARBON FOOTPRINT
    EMBRACE SLOW, ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS CRAFTSMANSHIP

    People can also expect to have a full sensory, mind/body/spirit experience here – there is usually an essential oil blend diffused in the air, an ever-changing curated mix of handmade clothing, jewelry and home goods; and an apothecary of the amazing natural remedies to soothe whatever ails you. We also have in-store wellness services on a monthly basis from reiki healing to mindful facials and sometimes meditation or yoga. You never know what you may find, but we hope you connect with what speaks to your spirit.

    Our holistic services, events and workshops are fun and focused on bringing together people, sharing experiences, and deepening the mind/body/spirit connection.

    A Little PR for the Present Moment

     





    Our attention is a hot commodity. We’ve got a million and one things vying for it at any given moment: media calling out from every device, the ever-fascinating past to inspect and analyze, and the oh-so-shiny future to fantasize about (I mean, isn’t the future grass always so much greener than our current yard??). With our focus pulled in so many directions, finding the present moment is needle-in-a-haystack hard. Staying there? A herculean feat.

    And in truth, the present moment is a tough sell. I mean, if you could be enjoying a nice mental stroll through your fantasy future instead of plowing through a stack of emails, why not? Or updating your ‘to-do’ list instead of focusing on a monotonous Zoom call, what’s the harm?

    I’ve been asking myself these questions a lot lately, as we seem to be taking a step back into the COVID mire. With every closing and cancellation–school, sports, playdates–I seem to be unwittingly sliding back into pandemic mode–an unpleasant mix of fuzzy-brained and disorganized, with a wholly unpleasant undercurrent of nervous buzzyness. Which is to say, the present and I are having more of a long-distance relationship these days.

    As I struggle to get back into the pre-COVID groove, I’m wondering, was the present moment eve really that great? It’s been so long I can hardly remember. Was I more productive there? Calmer? More fulfilled? I’m coming at it from every angle lately but just can’t seem to find the entry point. When I sit and try to focus on my breathing, I feel myself getting agitated, and have some version of “This is such a waste of time, I have so much else to do!” running through my head. Yes, there is always something to do, but is it really more important than settling into the here & now? 

    Here’s the short answer: Yes. Here & now is where life happens. Whether you’re present to it or not, this is where the action is. And we’re either ‘in’ it or not (okay, there is some gray area in there too but for simplicity’s sake, I'll stick with ‘in’ or ‘out’). I know this intuitively–I think we all kinda do. So how did I come around to this awareness?

    I decided to try an experiment where I spent three days–three seeming like a nice doable number–giving myself as many opportunities to sit (or stand) without any push to do or think anything and focus on the in and out of my breath. Nothing fancy, just pausing to notice my breath for as long as was comfortable–whether that was 30 seconds or 5. That’s it. Whenever I thought of it, I would just pause and breathe. I could be doing the laundry, walking from one room to the next, or doing a midday stretch break. 

    The trick was, not putting any pressure on myself. And if thoughts crept in, as they inevitably do, I would imagine inhaling into them, and exhaling them out. The result? At first I would get these intense pangs of boredom–something like a super-charged whirlwind of simultaneous exhaustion and restlessness. Sounds odd I know! I wouldn’t give in to the feeling though, instead, just breathing through it til I got to the other side. And on the other side? A little patch of calm. Sometimes a big patch, sometimes small. But both so welcome. And the good news? Each time I did it, it got a little easier. 

    This is all to say that the present moment, elusive gem that it is, is well worth the effort!

    And for an added dose of calming, this is a breathing technique I discovered that's great to do before bed, or anytime you're experiencing symptoms of stress or dysregulation:

    • Breathe slowly into your diaphragm on the count of four (through your nose if possible)
    • Hold for a count of seven, being sure to keep your body relaxed as you do
    • Exhale for a count of eight
    • Repeat a minimum of 10 times