You won't regret it!
TW: Depression and suicide talk.
Self-care can seem impossible during COVID-19, as we face one crisis after another.
That being said, when we prepare ourselves both mentally and physically for winter 2021 we can help one another face the trials of Coronavirus and the global pandemic.
Knowing that when we take care of our bodies we can then be emotionally present for one another, maybe the only game-changer.
As a woman who has suffered from suicidal ideation in my 20’s, depression, and chronic pain, I know that asking for help can be impossible. When my body hurts, it is often because my heart is aching and my mind is overwhelmed.
This blog explores mechanisms to put oneself onto a path of maintenance. Loving our bodies allows us to share our love more fully with one another.
You can read more about ending chronic pain, our pain relief blog series.
I'm a survivor. Always have been. But that doesn't mean that it is easy for me to ask for help. I suppose you could say that when I was imagining how to end my life, that was me giving up. At that time, though, that was the only way that I could imagine I'd relieve myself of the pain I was in. Many times I do not even realize that I need help. It often takes an emotional outburst or a breakdown for me to know that it is time to ask for help and get support.
What if I'm feeling a little depressed? Sometimes we don't even realize that we're numbing out, slipped into crises-management-mode and that our special type of suffering and pain doesn't have to be the way that it is. As we face these winter months, we're going to need to reach out to each other more for support. Ask yourself these questions:
Am I starting to simply try to get from one activity to the next without disruption?
Am I avoiding a feeling or sensation?
Am I trying to minimize my situation so that I can cope better?
The symptoms of 'COVID fatigue' are not simply cliches. This collective trauma is real. In many of our lives and the lives of people we love, this trauma is compounded by the loss of pets, loved ones, socialization, and jobs. I'm writing to share small actions that impact our mental and physical well-being.
Action 1: Write It Down!
Words create our world, and they have meaning to us. Too, actions can consume our lives when we are in survival mode. Writing can be therapeutic. But if the building is burning down, who has time to write? That's just it. Writing builds a tiny pocket to breathe a little bit more easily into our day. Writing is also is a reminder to be present to our intentions, desires, and feelings.
Writing our workouts down is a useful mechanism to help us remember the body parts that we want to work on stretching and strengthening. It is also a way to stay on track, for those 20 to 60 minutes that you have for yourself!
Action 2: Think of Your Feet
When was the last time that you gave your feet some love? Our feet connect us to the earth, they help us to be grounded, they get us around all day. Carve out ten minutes to get out of your head and into your feet. Your body will thank you.
Plus — Foot-to-core sequencing is a very important part of pain relief
- Use any type of ball you like!
- Roll your feet, and concentrate on pressure points to gently breath into and release tension.
Pongo Power trainers are Barefoot Certified by our favorite Podiatrist, Dr. Emily Splical. Dr. Emily has many wonderful online resources for you to learn all about your feet, and fun Naboso products to support you on your barefoot journey.
Action 3: Lie on the Ground for Breathing, Glute Bridge, and Cobra
Breathing is vital, we know this. What we forget is that when breath becomes shallow we get less oxygen and function less efficiently.
Performing a glute bridge helps you connect with your breath and your core. Breathing allows your body to switch from utilizing the sympathetic nervous response to the parasympathetic nervous system.
Fight, flight, lay down, play dead - all of these stress responses take us out of the game of emotional connection. Once we disconnect from our feelings, they start to build up on the backend, unexpressed. This takes a toll on our immune system as our brain is working overtime to process everything in isolation. You can help boost you immune response by grounding yourself and breathing.
Bonus! Here are two simple exercises that will also reverse the impact of being seated with poor posture, while helping you to connect with yourself.
- Lie on the floor, your bed, or a mat
- Inhale and exhale as you connect with your body and the ground supporting you
- Inhale, inflate your abs
- Exhale while you engage your abs and lift your hips, squeezing your glutes
- Continue to breathe for 30 to 60 seconds while squeezing
- Stop if you feel pain in your back or neck. You can lower your hips to decrease the range of motion and deactivate unnecessary tension.
- Start lying face down on your mat. You can roll a towel up and place it under your forehead to support your neck
- Inhale and exhale
- Inhale, expand your belly (diaphragm)
- Exhale, and draw your belly button to your spine, and squeeze your glutes
- Rotate your arms and palms outward, drawing your shoulder blades together
- Drop your shoulders down away from your ears
- Continue to breathe for 20 to 30 seconds. Do not lift too high.
- Build up to 45 to 60 seconds
- Stop if you feel your low back. You should feel your midback, glutes, and abs supporting your spine
In my previous blog, “Elizabeth Pongo's Own End to Chronic Pain” I wrote:
Everything about my physical path in life has been born of three things: my desire for comfort, for adventure, and to be pain-free. It is surprising (even to me) that my need to be pain-free, came about at a young age: perhaps from the age of seven, onward. Which, in my seven-year-old mind begged the question, “Why am I going through this? Aren’t I a little young to be in this tearful position?”
I am an emotional person. I feel strongly about being joyful, while being alive. It was signing up for events that saved me.
That first NYC Marathon in 1999, brought about a deeper understanding and awareness about the power of community into my heart and mind.
But there were no events in 2020! Sure there were virtual events. I wasn’t interested. In 2020 I was in crisis mode. As we turn this corner, with a vaccine on the horizon, and enter 2021, I realize it wasn't marathon running and event training that saved me. It was all the people I met along the way.
The running coaches, my friends and family who were interested in this new activity in my life, and the strangers in the crowd who stood there and cheered the runners on in the cold for hours and hours. It was having something to connect to other people on, that saved me.
Learning how to communicate our wants, needs, and desires isn't easy. But once we break the seal on communication, our dreams can come true and we can save each other from the nightmares that we face alone.
Meet the Author
Founder & CEO
NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist, Barefoot Training Specialist by the Evidence Based Fitness Academy
Elizabeth received her Bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College with a major in psychology and a minor in education. Having studied psychology and education, in addition to kinetics and physiology, Elizabeth places a strong emphasis on life-style coordination when training clients and teaching proper form and technique.
Elizabeth was her 78-year-old father’s primary caretaker at the age of 29, after he suffered a stroke. As her dad recovered, she encouraged him to return to coaching Fencing, with the Long Island Swordsman. It was quite apparent how this improved his mood and his coordination. Simultaneously, Pongo signed up for her first New York City Marathon. Clearly, it was throughout this experience that Elizabeth discovered how important it is for everyone in life to be physical. She resigned from her corporate job in order to become a Certified Personal Trainer upon realizing that proper exercise prescription, truly saves & improves lives.
“I’ve always felt great joy when being physical. From learning how to ride a bike; or go downhill skiing with my Dad; to training for the NYC Marathon and the NYC Triathlon: I’ve elevated my spirits and improved my health through solid program design and exercise science. I take great pride in teaching other people how to cultivate that lifestyle, truly.”