My toolkit for survival
As I sit down to write today I realised how long it’s been since I last wrote. I, like you, have been trying to navigate this world in which we find ourselves. I don’t want to say “our new normal” as there is nothing “normal” about it. But we are certainly all in a state of grief – many of us have lost loved ones recently, many of us are worried about family and friends who are ill, and all of us are longing for a time when we could sit in a packed theatre and watch a show, walk on the beach, move around without sanitisers and masks, and our children could easily and freely go to school and sport.
There is still a lot to say about this all, but most of that is for another day. The focus of today’s letter is how we can support ourselves as we navigate this stressful time. Recently Dr Ela Manga of Breathwork Africa posted on Instagram about her 2021 ‘Toolkit’ – the things she does to support herself. Her toolkit included breathwork, journaling, essential oils, strength and conditioning, yoga, art, walking, yoga nidra, massage and spending time with the pure hearted and the joyful!
It made me reflect on my own toolkit – and whether I was actually using the tools. Because now, more than ever, we need to be making a conscious commitment to support ourselves. In my future letters I will explore other tools more deeply – in this letter I’ll cover just four things I love doing to keep myself grounded and supported.
- Mindfulness: Taking time each day to be fully present and “in my body”, this can be a barefoot walk on the grass, a guided mediation, or just pausing and becoming aware of my breath for a few minutes. It’s a moment to become aware of the future tripping and the stories in my mind, and to gently release them and their grasp on me. There are many wonderful resources for this – I love the Insight Timer which has some wonderful free content – my favourites are the Mindful Mornings Challenge that’s going for 30 days at the moment, as well as the 40-day Mindfulness Daily course by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. These are all just 10-minute guided sessions that are very helpful. Other apps like Calm and Headspace are also wonderful resources.
I’m also very excited to announce that I will be starting my weekly Mindful Momentsagain on Tuesday 26 January at 7am. These are free sessions on ZOOM, open to anyone. They are 20 – 30 minutes long and are a chance to connect and ground – no previous mindfulness experience is needed, and they are not intimidating in any way. I so loved hosting them last year and had to stop them when I was teaching a mindfulness course in Alex as part of the requirements for the Mindfulness Practitioner course I am doing through the Institute of Mindfulness in South Africa. I’ve really missed hosting them as well as the community and connection, and I invite you all to join next Tuesday morning or any Tuesday after that. The ZOOM link for direct access is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3853652907?pwd=c1h1VWR1WEpFbW5CdEQzTGROdXp3QT09 or join my ZOOM room with the meeting ID 385 365 2907 with password Mindful. I look forward to connecting with many of you online there!
- Essential Oils: I started using these for our family nearly 2 years ago and haven’t looked back. I always thought of essential oils as nice smells and had no idea of the profound therapeutic value of pure essential oils. These days we use them for everything from burns to sore throats, digestive issues to pain, immune support to anxiety, and so much more in between. They have been such a wonderful tool that I cannot imagine how I would have navigated this last year without them. As a result, I now teach classes on oils and you can find out more about these classes on my website. Again, these are free, and I’d love you to join us!
- Breathwork: in this last year we’ve become far more conscious of our breath, the simplicity and complexity of it, and its profound importance. Breathwork Africa and Ela Manga are actually hosting a Covid-19, 3-part breathwork mini-series starting on the 8th of February for anyone who is recovering from Covid, or anyone who wants specific tools to support themselves and their loved ones at this time. They also host weekly online Breathwork classes and masterclasses through their BreathCafe, as well as Breathing Buddy workshops for those who work with or want to support children – it’s an enormously supportive tool for helping children to manage anxiety and to navigate the unknown, something that is very prevalent in their world at the moment.
- I go into many other tools in previous blogs, especially in ‘How to be Well’ and ‘We were made for times like these’ but something I’d like to reiterate is the importance of supplementing with vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc at this time. Boosting our health from the inside, and proactively supporting ourselves is far more valuable than living in fear and hiding.
This article published in The Lancet on 11 January 2021 discusses vitamin D – on 17 December 2020 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), in collaboration with Public Health England and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, published an updated rapid review of recent studies on vitamin D and COVID-19, and on 22 December 2020 the UK government released new guidelines allowing extremely clinically vulnerable people to opt in to receive a free 4-month supply of daily vitamin D supplements.
Many of us are spending a lot more time indoors, nervous to go out, not able to go to beaches, parks and to do our sport and exercise, and so our natural levels of vitamin D are depleting rapidly. Many elderly people have low levels of vitamin D already. There is a lot of information to be found on vitamin C, D and zinc online, one of the most useful is this video by MedCram and Prof Roger Seheult, MD “Vitamin D and COVID 19: The Evidence for Prevention and Treatment of Coronavirus (SARS CoV 2)”. There are also many articles linking zinc and sense of smell – it both supports our sense of smell and may be very helpful in regaining smell post COVID.
An in-depth discussion of the merits and dosages of vitamins and supplements is beyond the scope of this short blog, but I encourage you to speak to your healthcare practitioner, functional medicine doctor, endocrinologist, dietician or nutritionist if you would like to know more.
I hope that this information will be helpful to you and that you will feel empowered in supporting yourselves and your loved ones. Most of all I hope to see you for some Mindful Moments in the coming weeks.
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.