Ep#048 A Mindful Approach To Navigating Covid Re-Entry Anxiety

Over the past year we’ve had to adapt to the limitations of pandemic life by creating a lifestyle that’s now become safe and predictable, especially in light of the chaos and unknown. And now, we are faced with negotiating yet another unprecedented change ā€” re-entry, as things start to open up. Trying to find our sea legs amidst the “new normal” is triggering a wide range of emotions for us all.

On today’s solo show, I’ll share important strategies for how to best support our bodies and minds through this unique time and invite you to see the divine invitation before all of us to move ever more towards living a life true to who you are.

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Thank you so much for listening!

Podcast Transcript

0 (1s):
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you are so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.

Christine Okezie (23s):
Hello and welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for listening today. So one of the issues that I’m seeing in my coaching work these days is apprehension and anxiety about COVID re-entry. I mean, you know, we all found ways, right? To adapt to the lockdowns and limitations. And we hunkered down at home and over the past year, that lifestyle has really become quite safe and predictable, especially in light of the chaos and the unknown. And now, well we’re faced with negotiating yet. Another unprecedented change re-entry for some folks, it’s about the fear of being out in public prematurely.

Christine Okezie (1m 7s):
When the pandemic is still clearly a threat and fear of getting the virus or even spreading the virus still exist for others. It’s about the whole next level of uncertainty of what normal life will look like. Again, I mean, after all COVID has changed every aspect of our lives, perhaps forever, the way we work, eat, shop connect, even the way we dress. I mean, for those of us who were very fortunate to be able to shelter in place while we took sweatpants and lounge wear to a whole new level, who are we kidding? I mean, I don’t know about you, but the thought of wearing pants with zippers and buttons, it feels like, well, why would I ever want to do that again?

Christine Okezie (1m 49s):
But COVID, re-entry might also be bringing up some other things. So maybe over the past year, you’ve realized how much you actually were an introvert at heart. And this time of being hunkered down, or, you know, the slower pace of life has actually lessened feelings of anxiety and the thought of resuming the pre COVID life. The pre COVID pace of life might actually be triggering it for you. And of course I’ve seen, you know, there’s feelings of frustration or regret that comes with thoughts. Like, well, I should have used the lockdown more productively. You know, those I should start to creep up. I used should have used the time to get more fit, to cook, to eat healthier, et cetera.

Christine Okezie (2m 34s):
And in the same vein, perhaps re-entry is stirring up all kinds of body insecurities that come sort of with that dread of beach season, but only now 10 times worse because we’re beating ourselves up for a year of pandemic, weight gain and you know, the sweatpants thing. But so maybe there’s this all too familiar desperation of, I have to lose weight now, before we open, before we open up this or else, and that can be certainly draining and consuming and worry provoking. However, the COVID we entry jitters are showing up for you. The truth is that it’s been a trying year for all of us. We’ve had our share a wide ranging share of traumas and we traumas we’ve, we’ve all had not so great coping mechanisms around food, alcohol, internet addiction.

Christine Okezie (3m 25s):
I mean, we’re all trying to find our sea legs to varying degrees. So the first thing we want to do to ease the COVID re-entry is to acknowledge that any and all the feelings that we have are normal, real, and totally okay. And shared by so many after all avoidance or getting stuck in that self criticism about the reality of your circumstances will only take a much bigger toll on your health. Now more than ever is a time to practice self compassion. As we all know, there’s been an explosion of research into self-compassion just in the last decade and it shows those who practice self-compassion that is when we learn to speak to ourselves like a good friend, who’s having a really rough time, you know, and we’re able to mindfully observe our pain when we can see it for what it is without exaggerating it, but rather allowing us to take a wiser and a more objective perspective on ourselves and our situation.

Christine Okezie (4m 34s):
Well, those who practice this kind of self-kindness show that they have greater wellbeing overall, that they can experience better physical health, stronger, emotional resilience, and certainly less anxiety and depression. Because when we practice self-compassion, we can neutralize that fight flight freeze stress response in the body, the stress chemistry, chemistry changes and oxytocin and endorphins are released. And this helps tremendously with feelings of safety and insecurity. It’s really all about strengthening and soothing our nervous system.

Christine Okezie (5m 16s):
Now, as we prepare for this big change, now it’d be a perfect time to find some tools to practice being in the present moment, to keep our mind from wreaking havoc, catastrophizing, fueling fear, or insecurities mindfulness that is bringing nonjudgmental attention to and awareness of the present moment can help reduce symptoms of anxiety. We bring awareness to what we can control and what we can’t control. And when we acknowledge that the things that we have 100% control over are simply our thoughts, emotions, and reactions.

Christine Okezie (5m 59s):
It helps lighten the load. This is where meditation conscious breathing and yoga are powerful or have been powerful lifesavers during the lockdown. And they continue to be equally potent tools. As we endeavor to navigate another wave of transition and change. I can’t emphasize enough that we need to make time for stillness and connect to our inner guidance every day, our nervous system, it loves rhythm and routine. So erratic, eating erratic sleeping is going to deplete our life force energy, disrupt those key hormones that affect our mood, our mental clarity and metabolism.

Christine Okezie (6m 46s):
It adds to the stress that we’re feeling in the body and the mind. So now is the time to recommit to some consistency in our schedule, consistency around meal times and our sleep routines. I call it getting your biology on your side, and I believe it to be fundamental to stabilizing ourselves amidst the inevitable uncertainty. In fact, there’s a central principle in the yoga tradition called Sadhna, which translates basically as daily spiritual practice. But sadhana sadhana is your personal self enrichment. It’s the main tool that you use to work on yourself, to find clarity, meaning, and purpose in your life.

Christine Okezie (7m 28s):
When I work with clients, helping them establish a regular, Sadhana a consistent daily practice of self-care preferably in the morning. At the beginning of the day, it’s a powerful way to take control of their health and their life on all levels, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. So whether that’s a few minutes of simple conscious breathing, maybe a couple yoga stretches, maybe some journaling, a gratitude practice, or even, you know, inspirational reading all forms of meditation. For example, this is about making a commitment to connect with our inner guidance system every day, so that our decisions that our choices and actions stem from this wise center of our being taking this time to set a calm foundation within ourselves, anchoring our energy is what will give us the mental caliber to face, whatever life has in store for us.

Christine Okezie (8m 33s):
See, what we’re looking to do is create lifestyle habits that sustain the meditative mind and these yoga tools, these contemplate of practices, they help center our life force energy. Our prana, we bring the prana into our central nervous system, into the center of our being, which helps change the minds, habitual tendency towards worry. We use the body and the breath to bypass the thinking mind. And all of a sudden we can experience more calm. The mind feels calmer, the body relaxes and the ego relaxes that noisy voice inside of our heads quiets.

Christine Okezie (9m 17s):
And, and we can show up with greater confidence, the greater confidence that comes from having more clarity and more discernment and more inner trust. Now, for many, the anxiety about re-entry perhaps is a little more subtle. There’s something else that feels unsettled and we can’t quite figure it out, or maybe we actually have. And what I’m referring to is the process of integrating any deep self realizations that we’ve had during this very strange and difficult period. The recognition that there are many things about our pre pandemic lives that really weren’t working for us, COVID removed many of the circumstances that defined our lives, schools, jobs, families, activities, groups, friends, et cetera.

Christine Okezie (10m 14s):
It was the ultimate pattern interrupt in our habitual living. And while it’s certainly been painful for some it’s provided an opportunity to reevaluate how we engage with life. It’s been a timeout from a system that may no longer give us the same level of energy or satisfaction that it once did. Or maybe now that we can see with such greater clarity was really an obstacle to our growth and our wellbeing. So if there’s apprehension and a feeling out of sorts, as the world opens up, you might lean into that discomfort and notice a space for genuine compassionate self-discovery to look carefully at the ways of being attitudes, perspectives, societal norms, and assess whether or not they serve who you’ve become this past year.

Christine Okezie (11m 19s):
As you do, you might discover that it’s time to see all the things that you give your energy to your job, your volunteer activities, your relationships. You might see all these things through fresh eyes. Be honest with yourself and get the support you need to plan your transitions because now’s the time to dig deep, deep within for courage to honor your true self, to answer that inner knowing, take heed of the whispers of your soul and connect with those in your life who are actually willing to champion your personal growth and evolution.

Christine Okezie (12m 2s):
Who knows my friends, this really strange time might be exactly the healing life changes. You’ve been waiting for a beautiful quote that captures this spirit is from Oscar Wilde. “There are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life fully, entirely, completely, or dragging out some false shallow degrading existence at the world in its hypocrisy demands.” I hope that’s helpful my friends and thanks for listening,

2 (12m 39s):
Stay safe and be well bye for now.

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