No, I don't live on Mars, and no, I'm not totally alienated about what is going on around the world right now. However, I have learned that internal peace has much more to do with decision than consequence.
Although it seems like forever, just a couple of weeks ago my life was radically changed, and I know that I'm not alone on that. In fact, millions of people around the world have abruptly stepped on the brakes and literally put their lives on pause. Confusion, anxiety and a dooming fear of these uncertain times comes in waves. Is it really happening? What will happen tomorrow? I'm sure everything will be okay soon. But really, what is happening? A rush of thoughts invade our minds, desperately trying to find a solution for a problem that is out of our control.
Now, my friend, here is the key: this situation is out of our control! There is nothing we can do right now that will make us go back in time or fast forward to the future. This is our present moment. However, we can't allow it to touch our peace of mind. I have learned that inner peace cannot be a consequence of the external circumstances I'm living in. Inner peace is a choice I make every day through small daily decisions.
So, how in the world can I have peace of mind amidst the current craziness we are living? Let me share with you some ideas that will help you stay calm and reassure yourself and the ones around you that everything is going to be alright.
1. Choose to eat healthy - Nurturing your body with good healthy foods packed with nutrients and vitamins should be your priority right now. Being in quarantine doesn't mean stuffing our faces with food, and I know it doesn't help with our sweet tooth either, but try to include lots of fruits and vegetables to your diet. If you are not a super-fan of plant-based foods try drinking lots of natural juices and smoothies, and make sure you consume your greens every day. Did you know that besides boosting your immunity, eating healthier has a direct effect to your mood and mental health? Check it here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626 So taking care of what we put inside of your body will definitely bring a sense of calm and peace to your mind.
2. Choose to stay hydrated - That doesn't mean drinking sugary drinks and sodas. Nope, those are definitely off this list. Drink lots of water and herbal teas instead. Chamomile has a calming, soothing effect. Taking time to sip a good old cup of tea is good for the body and the soul.
3. Choose to sleep more and learn to rest - Rest your body, and have at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Lack of sleep negatively affects our immune function. Resting is also important. Rediscover the art of doing nothing. Reading a good book, listening to some relaxing music, sitting outside under the sun (while sipping that delicious tea!) are some things that work for me.
4. Choose to exercise - Yes, gyms are closed around the country right now, but thank goodness for online classes! Transform your living room into a fitness class and move around. No money to pay an online class? No problem. Youtube offers hundreds of classes for free. Choose one that you like. I love the Pilates classes. They relax me and keep me in shape.
5. Choose to cultivate kindness - Did you know that kindness and caring for others significantly boosts the immuno globilin antibodies? https://www.henryford.com/blog/2016/11/boost-health-acts-kindness The warm feeling of wellbeing that washes over you when you've done something kind isn't just in your head; it's in your brain chemicals, too. Acts of kindness can release hormones that contribute to your mood and overall wellbeing. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/science-of-kindness.html. So spread kindness around you! Social distancing doesn't mean social disconnectedness. We can be connected and show we care through acts of compassion: check on your elderly neighbors and offer to go grocery shopping for them, call your family and friends and give some emotional support, sew masks for nurses who are working on the frontlines, leave a note at your neighbors' doors asking if they need anything, smile to people at the grocery store lines, reassuring them we are in this together, are some things you can do.
6. Choose sunshine and fresh air - I have a confession: I'm obsessed with windows! Yes, lots of windows, preferably open windows. Georgetown University Medical Center researchers have found that "sunlight, through a mechanism separate than vitamin D production, energizes T cells that play a central role in human immunity. This study shows that sunlight directly activates key immune cells by increasing their movement.” https://gumc.georgetown.edu/news-release/sunlight-offers-surprise-benefit-it-energizes-infection-fighting-t-cells/ So, let's make a deal right now...tomorrow morning when you wake up, open your windows wide, breath the fresh air in and out, and allow the sun to kiss your skin for several minutes. Or even better, I suggest you leave your tower, Rapunzel, and spend time outside, walking, hiking, playing, or exercising. This is a total game changer in finding that inner peace you so desperately need right now.
7. Choose to trust - Yes, if you are like me you know how terrible you feel when you have no control over your life or over the future. That dooming feeling of uncertainty hits us hard sometimes, bending us almost to the point of breaking us, but having trust in God and knowing that He is in control is the best feeling ever! No, I can't fix it. No, I have no idea what is going to happen next. No, my life is not better than yours right now. But in midst of this nonsense, I can close my eyes, I can breathe, and I can trust that, yes, God has the power to fix it, yes, He knows what will happen next, and yes, He can make things better again.
Allowing external circumstances to affect our peace of mind is a decision we make. So why not stop everything and decide differently? Why not trying something new? Instead of focusing on what we can't control, why don't we focus on the things we can? Eat healthy, stay hydrated, rest, exercise, be kind, enjoy nature, and trust in the power from above. And remember to keep calm, because in the end, everything is gonna be alright!
Cristina Macena is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and the Urban Life Center Manager