The Covid-19 Pandemic created radical and abrupt shifts in all aspects of our daily life and the physical, mental, and social effects continue to linger for many of us. For the past three years, not only have we navigated the physical illness, unanticipated grief, loss of life, isolation, financial strain, greater economic instability revealed the weaknesses in our community and country’s infrastructure. Our individual actions and outcomes are resilience and we have resilience factors that support positive outcomes. A return to the basic essentials of our well-being: rest, movement and breath continue to be proven methods of physical and mental health care throughout our lifespan.
Prioritizing Basic Health Essentials
Finding the room to rest, room to move and room to breathe were now part of our daily remainders from health professionals. Prior to the pandemic, sleep problems existed for about half of the general population. The public health response by our leading health organizations prioritized attention to our sleep and rest from worry, fear and anxiety that were heightened and persisting. Information was increasingly dispersed regarding the need to preserve our mental health with daily strategies to manage our use of mobile media and social isolation. Getting outdoors and moving throughout our day was also prioritized as a primary means to keep our physical and mental health stable under constant stress. This was one of the most important shifts people and organizations made in a sustainable way. Our need to cope with the dramatic changes thrust upon us in our daily lives propelled us to learn new methods of managing our lives in the moment. We could no longer just remove ourselves from the stressful environment as we had known before the stay-at-home order. Relying upon our breath, something that is possible and accessible all the time, became a new old practice for managing stress as well.
Individuals and families who were fortunate enough to be free to move outdoors, had access to basic needs, and healthcare, had a secure foundation for building resilience. This framework allowed those families to effectively reorganize and manage daily living while all together at home, with school and work routines merged in the same physical space. I was fortunate to witness and support many families in the resetting and rescheduling of daily life incorporating room to breath, room to rest and room to move in new ways that fortified their resilience to the pandemic impact and future toxic stress experiences.
Resilience Grows Stronger with Practice
Building resilience starts with ensuring that we deactivate our reactions to adequately recover from stressful situations. A stressful situation triggers cortisol and other hormones and neurotransmitters to be released to activate our body systems. The deactivation of this automatic response in our body, which we may not be aware is happening, is what allows for the nervous system to shift so that cortisol and other hormones and neurotransmitters reset to baseline. This way, we can interrupt a pattern of over activation of the nervous system and chronically high cortisol levels. This activation process is what causes a pattern of chronic inflammation throughout our body. Inflammation is at the root of all physical and mental health problems.
While we are not as consumed by impact of the pandemic, we are more aware of the stress that comes to us all in tiny little assaults throughout our day or “micro-stresses.” Our productivity at work as well as how we manage within our families are affected by micro-stresses that are a normal part of a day. We hardly acknowledge them, but cumulatively they are wearing us down. The sources of these micro-stresses are often the people — in and out of work — with whom we are closest. Creating room to breath, room to rest, and room to move is a highly effective, efficient and accessible way to reset the emotional build-up of the micro-stressors we encounter during the day, so we can think rationally, and offer constructive responses to the people we work with, live with and love.
Room to Navigate Stress
The phenomenon of resilience is a capacity to be taught, to learn, to practice and to strengthen with skills when faced with adverse life experiences. A baseline of safety at home and in one’s relationships is the foundation for such skills to develop and to be relied on over time. Nurturing a healthy response to adversity and strengthening our ability to manage stressful experiences is resilience. We can continue to find ways to better cope with stress, since it’s impossible to eliminate it. And when we do, we become more resilient to future stress and mitigate some of the long-term health outcomes of chronic stress, like hypertension, dementia, anxiety and depression, impaired learning and memory, diabetes, and gut conditions.
The pandemic highlighted the lack of essentials for our basic health and wellbeing and prioritized the need to create room to breathe, room to rest, and room to move throughout our day to reset our body’s response to the day long accumulation of stress. Room To Move, LLC helps individuals, families, professionals and organizations create room within their daily routine to infuse sensory and movement practices that help our bodies make the shifts necessary to reset and invest in our physical, mental and emotional well-being.