Breathing. We take it for granted, right? Lately I’ve been thinking about breathing a lot, or, to be more precise, sighing, and I ended up going down the rabbit hole when I discovered that it’s actually a form of self-preservation. I’d always thought that sighing was a sign of discomfort or feeling harassed, but when I sat down and started to think about all the possible reasons, I decided to find out if it was something that we actually needed to do. I made a video where I talk about it at length, but essentially, we sigh for a variety of reasons; it can signal contentment, joy at achieving something, tiredness, depression, sadness, etc. Why we sigh is where it gets interesting. When I went to Google, the first result I got said:
That fact really got me thinking. Around the world we have all experienced what is likely to have been the most difficult few months of our entire lives. Thanks to the outbreak of Covid-19, life as we know it has changed, perhaps irrevocably. We’ve gone from being the social creatures we evolved to be, to being anxious about going to the store or feeling like an animal in a cage who’s dying to get out and do everything to excess.
Add to this the emotional pain spelt out by the Black Lives Matter movement at the murder of yet another innocent black man, George Floyd,
and many of us are exhausted. We wake up tired, wondering: ‘why?’
I couldn’t help but wonder, after reading the facts on sighing, just how many more sighs all of us are producing, especially within the black community. When you look at the data, it is literally saying that sighing keeps us alive. I think this is a wonderful thing to know, because, often in the workplace, a co-worker’s sighs could cause someone else to roll their eyes. I say, take comfort in your sighs, sigh all you want. Right now, we need some regularity when it comes to our breathing and if sighing is the way, so be it.
But what else can we do?
Now that lockdown is easing around the world, you might actually be yearning for new routines and habits. Or perhaps you picked up some new ones over the past few months. I know several people who learned to knit, started painting, making their own beauty products, such as rose water and face masks, while they were stuck indoors.
I also know plenty of people who just wanted to consume, constantly, when it came to Netflix and other forms of entertainment, because it was a comfort and a distraction. There’s no right way to get through a pandemic, but now that we are cautiously coming out of it, leaning on your own version of self-care is definitely a way to ensure you are listening to your body, and mind.
SuperBetter is a book that applies theories taken from studies on gamers to how we can improve our lives, becoming stronger, happier and more resilient. Author Jane McGonigal advises that, by changing just one thing – from our food, our work environment to how we dress, we instantly make it better and our bodies and minds benefit. Small ways you can improve: each meal you create, think about one thing you could add to it to make it better – maybe that’s adding something green or colourful, or simply adding one more element that you personally love. When it comes to bath time, treat yourself to some amazing relaxing bath salts or perhaps a decadent coffee scrub. Sit back, breathe in and relax. Over time the little.
All the apps
There has never been a better time to invest in a mindfulness app or two. In fact, many of the more popular ones, like Headspace, have just announced that they will now charge zero for a year’s access to the premium version of the app to anyone who has been put on furlough or is unemployed due to the pandemic, in the UK and the US.
What’s amazing about Headspace in particular, is how it’s gone beyond meditation and now has a full selection of sleep sounds and even workouts, all with mindfulness as the key focus. Slowing down and finding focus is a great way for us to prepare when it comes to facing the day’s challenges, whether that’s getting the kids ready to go back to school, or prepping for several Zoom meetings.
workout lover will have experienced more periods of sitting down than ever. For many of us, the most action we’ve seen has been the hourly walk from the couch to the fridge, searching for a snack when we already know exactly what’s in there!
Now that we’re able to be outside for as long as we like, a simple remedy to this sedentary working from home life is to go for a walk at your self-prescribed lunch time. Or if you’re not feeling like being outside, try and commit to getting up once an hour for a minimum of 10 minutes. Move away from your work station and stretch, drink some water, look out of the window. These precious moments of movement let your body know: I still need you.
If you can dedicate an hour a day to getting a serious sweat on, even better and there are literally tons of options thanks to Instagram Lives and YouTube. But if you can’t commit to that, just aim to move. If you do something every day, your body and mind will reap the rewards.