Doing Our Best to Stay Healthy, Balanced, and Nourished During Uncertain Times
Regardless of if you’re naturally introverted or extroverted.
Regardless of if you’re typically active or stagnate.
Regardless of if you love to cook or only eat out.
Regardless of if you live in a city or on a farm.
Regardless of where you’re from, who you live with, or what you do.
This is one of the few times where I think I can actually speak for just about all of us in saying that this global crisis has evoked a sense of discomfort (to say the very least) particularly within our households.
However, I think (for the most part) we can agree that the short-term discomfort of being cooped up inside is worth the long-term goal of containing, and even minimizing, this virus.
But the thing is that one of the greatest ways to avoid illness of ANY kind is to reduce stress, to create a balanced lifestyle, and to boost our immune systems with nutrition, exercise, and rest.
So, the questions are:
How do we reduce stress when we’re bombarded with fear and uncertainty?
How do we achieve this so-called “balanced lifestyle” when our world is seemingly flipped upside down?
And how do we boost our immune systems if we’re trying to survive off of non-perishable foods?
It’s going to be challenging.
And from that challenge undoubtedly comes discomfort.
But, moving through discomfort also results in growth, resilience, and empowerment.
The trick to navigating through these tough times is to do so with flexibility.
To work with what we’re presented with, rather than try to fight against it.
Resistance often results in suffering.
And complaining about circumstances that are out of our hands is simply a waste of energy- therefore not productive, nor necessary.
It might be awhile before our daily lives return to “normal.”
Plus, our former idea of “normal” might have a whole new feel to it by the time everything settles down.
So, let’s work with what we’ve got.
By taking time to uplift our personal vibration, we are undoubtedly contributing to the collective.
And, that’s what we really need.
To uplevel our global vibration from fear to one of love.
This is where the real healing occurs.
Let’s do this.
Before diving in, as always, I’d like to remind you that I am NOT a nutritionist nor a medical practitioner of any sort. Everything I’ve listed regarding diet are concoctions that have worked for me, my partner, and other loved ones. This does NOT mean they will work for you, nor backed with credentials.
Any herbs, supplements, and physical practices suggested are all things that have worked for me, my partner and other loved ones. This does NOT mean they will work for you.
Most tips mentioned are derived from my background in yoga, Ayurveda, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. However, I cannot claim to be an expert in any of these fields regardless of certifications I’ve received.
Please know if you have existing medical conditions, limitations, or something simply doesn’t land well in your body- that the choice to try any of these tips is completely up to YOU.
Be responsible with your body, mind and heart.
If this sounds totally foreign and/or intimidating to you, don’t worry. There are plenty of apps and YouTube channels that can support your journey.
You can always check out my meditations on AloMoves.
Or you can sample a great beginner one for free on YouTube.
If you prefer to try meditation without guidance or technology:
Simply find a comfortable position (sitting or laying), close your eyes, and tune into your breath. Maybe that means placing one hand on your belly, and one your heart as you breathe. And maybe that means just 5 deep, mindful breaths for the day.
That’s perfect. That’s enough. You can always increase the length day-to-day.
2. Adjust Social Media Use:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and over stimulated from all of the updates on social media, then adjust accordingly.
For some of you, this might mean getting off social channels altogether.
For others, this might mean muting certain friends/users that are posting content that’s bringing you discomfort or unease.
Do your best to create a feed that expands and elevates you, rather than stresses you out or evokes that sense of contraction.
How can you tell?
Well, this is also where your meditation practice is useful.
The more you tune into how you FEEL in each passing moment, the more clarity you’ll have about what your needs are.
Notice how you feel after you scroll.
Do you feel hopeful, uplifted, and connected?
Or, do you feel less than, separate, and despair?
Remember, social media is a tool.
Meaning, it’s not GOOD or BAD. It just IS.
How WE choose to use the tool is up to US.
Choose to use it for positivity and connection, and that’s exactly what you’ll get.
There’s a reason that sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
It makes you lose your damn mind.
I don’t know about you, but when I don’t get enough sleep, I revert back to toddler form- I get grumpy, emotional, and sometimes it even makes me sick!
I know it’s hard to get adequate rest during these times- uncertainty and stress has that effect on the mind and body.
Again, incorporating more meditation into your day, and less screen time will help your brain turn off a little more easily when it comes time to go to sleep.
Other tips and tricks to soothe the body are:
Chamomile tea before bed, including CBD in your supplement use, lavender oil on the soles of your feet before sleep, aromatherapy to wind down (diffuser, candle, or incense), soothing music to wind down (you can check out my “lets melt” and “yin” playlists on Spotify), stretch before laying down (check out Carling Harps on AloMoves for great Restorative yoga), self-massage/self-acupressure release, and try to reduce or eliminate cold, raw foods- adding warm, cooked meals, instead.
4. Acupressure Points for Sleep and Stress Reduction:
These are just a few of the best points in the body to apply pressure to help sleep or calm down.
If you want to further pacify yourself, use lavender oil when applying pressure.
-On the wrist, just below the pinky finger where there’s a small hollow area. Apply pressure in circular motion for 2-3 minutes on each side.
-On the inner leg, place 4 fingers above your ankle bone to find the right point on your tibia. Apply pressure in circular motion, or up and down for 2-3 minutes on each leg. DO NOT USE THIS POINT IF YOU’RE PREGNANT.
-On the sole of the foot in the small depression area in the middle of the foot that appears when you point your toes (usually between the big and second toe). Lie on your back for this one, and grab your foot like happy baby. Apply firm pressure in circular or up and down motion for several minutes. Or, you can step onto a ball for this one. Lying on the back just tends to be more soothing.
5. Yoga Postures for Sleep and Stress Reduction:
These are just a few grounding postures that you can incorporate before bedtime, or anytime throughout the day that you’re feeling overwhelmed.
–Standing Forward Fold (Rag Doll Style): stand with feet as wide as the hips, or wider if you’re tighter in the low back and hamstrings. Bend a little or a lot in your needs depending on how open your low back and hamstrings are. Allow the top half of your body to hang heavily over the legs, grab opposite elbows with your hands, and gently sway from side to side. Stay as heavy as possible, rather than pulling your legs or feet to deepen your fold. Try to close your eyes here if your balance feels okay. Otherwise, soft gaze. Tune into your breath, and stay for 1 – 3 minutes depending on how comfortable you are with blood rushing to your head. Be mindful when standing up, by keeping your knees very bent.
-Reclined Butterfly: lay on your back, and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to fan out wide. If you’re tighter in the inner hips, move your heels away from your hips. If you want to go deeper in the hips, walk the heels in close. If the knees are hanging far from the ground, and this causes pressure in the knees, OR if you just want more support- place blocks or pillow under your knees. Arms can go anywhere that’s comfortable. I like to place one on my belly, and one on my heart. Close your eyes, and tune into your breath for as 2 – 5 minutes.
-Legs up the Wall: you can do this with or without an actual wall. Using the wall will likely allow you to stay longer, as you have more support. If you’re using a wall, then lay on your back and scoot your bum up to the wall, and extend your legs so the bottoms of your feet face skyward. Release activation in the feet (not pointing nor flexing), and let the legs separate to hip distance if that’s more comfortable to you. Feel free to include a slight or deep knee bend, depending on how open your hamstrings are. I arms can stay by your sides, you can connect one palm to your belly and another to the heart, or reach them overhead. Close your eyes, connect to your breath, and stay for 3 – 10 minutes (or longer).
If you’re not using the wall, then lay on your back and extend the legs so the soles of the feet are lifted skyward. Again, no activation in the feet. However you’ll need to have some activation in the legs simply to keep them lifted. Try to use as little as possible. If you want support, place your hands behind your thighs, or move to the wall. Bend as much as you need in the knees. Same arm variations available from the wall option. Stay for 1 – 3 minutes (or longer).
1. Rituals and Routines:
One of the best ways to ground down in ANY situation is to create rituals and/or routines for your day/week.
As someone who traveled extensively, this practice alone is one that kept me feeling firmly planted, regardless of all the movement I was actually doing.
Typically, I’d suggest to create a morning and evening routine– helping you to wake up and to wind down. These are great bookends to your days, which are usually filled in with a variety of activities, work, and socializing.
However, given the current situation of being inside- we can actually create a rhythm and routine to our ENTIRE day now.
Still, of course, allowing for wiggle room and flexibility.
Start by creating a morning routine that feels good. Maybe this includes meditation, yoga, movement, reading, journaling, making your favorite hot drink, connecting with your partner- WHATEVER it may be, see if you can dedicate even just 10 minutes to the same wake up ritual every day, rather than flying out of bed and straight to work.
Do the same for when you wind down.
Start there with the bookends, and then fill in the middle according to your current living and working situation.
If you’re struggling to work from home, I strongly suggest making a timetable for your day and week to give you the structure and support needed.
Another great way to create a consistent timing for your day is to eat your meals more or less around the same times.
Keep in mind this does NOT mean ignore your body’s needs if they are out of line with a particular eating schedule you’ve been following.
Listen to your body’s needs first, and foremost.
However, our digestion plays a HUGE role in our energy levels. When and what we fuel our body also plays a huge role in our energy levels.
I find that having a somewhat regular eating schedule helps me to wake up, wind down, and be productive in between- the most effectively.
This sounds cheesy as hell, but damn, it really works.
This is something that will be helpful in your everyday life, but something that is a freaking LIFERAFT during times like these.
I love the 5 Minute Journal– which you can order as a journal, or download as an app (I think it’s $5).
I’ve been using the app for years, because I’m always traveling it’s easier than carrying an extra journal around with me.
This is how I bookend my days. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up, and the last thing I do before I go to sleep.
It starts with just realizing even in really shitty circumstances, we all still have something to be grateful for (our lungs are filling with air, and our hearts are pumping blood).
But then, it transforms into something much more powerful- in that you don’t just repeat these things to check something off a checklist. You actually believe them.
It rewires your brain to more naturally see the good in every situation, which in turn creates a more consistently elevated personal vibration.
If you can’t afford the 5 Minute Journal– then simply start your day by writing 3 things you’re grateful for, 3 things you’ll do to make that day great, and 1 affirmation or mantra to work with that day.
End your day by naming 3 amazing things that happened that day, and 1 thing you could’ve done better.
It will get easier the more you do it. And, true to the name, it really only takes 5 minutes (or less). However, there’s also space to write MORE if you feel called.
It’s been incredible to see how quickly studios, teachers, and fitness professionals have moved created virtual options to support people’s health through all of this.
As most of you know, there are PLENTY of options out there for movement.
You can find some of my full-length classes for FREE on AloMoves YouTube channel (as well as heaps of other awesome instructors). Please note the classes that are available are only suitable for intermediate level.
You can also find my full library of content on AloMoves, which is a $20/month subscription.
Another app I’ve been using for years since traveling all the time is 7 Minute Workout, which is FREE.
This includes 7-minute HIIT workouts that are accessible in the comfort of your own home without any equipment needed.
I can’t personally recommend a whole lot beyond this, as I tend to stick to my personal practice and pepper in some HIIT when needed.
I love these the most because not only do they feel good in my body, but also because I don’t need anything other than my body to participate in the movement.
However, if neither of these are appealing, I get it. We’re all different.
Most fitness professionals have content on their IGTV channels or YouTube right now.
Regardless of what you choose, I’d just like to ask you to move for 30 minutes each day.
You can even break that up to 15 minutes in the morning before you start work, and 15 minutes after work.
You can also incorporate movement into your lunchtime time slot. Or any other time that feels best to you.
Put your movement on your timetable/calendar as if it’s a meeting.
Prioritize it the way you would an important call or email.
This will become one of the building blocks to your daily rituals/routines (which is grounding), increase endorphins, increase strength, and get stagnate energy moving!
I have some of my best ideas when I’m moving my body, because everything is moving THROUGH me, rather than getting stuck.
Dance, wiggle, shake, jump, stretch, punch, kick, hop, squat, push, pull- do what you need to do to feel a release.
Boost Immune System:
Regardless of whatever your diet is- the bottom line for everyone is that eating whole, real foods is best for our bodies.
This might feel impossible during a time people are trying to live off non-perishable foods.
But, as usual, there are a few tips and tricks that can help make the most out of what we’ve got.
If you’re like us here in San Diego, maybe you also have a shortage of produce.
Whether you have a shortage, or not, it’s great to get in the habit of using as much of the plant as possible- rather than increasing waste.
If you have a juicer, I have several recipes for how to use juice pulp (granola, cookies, muffins, flatbread, crackers, etc) that will result in zero waste.
Another great option for zero waste when it comes to veggies:
Roast veggies of your choice with herbs and spices of your choice. Use the scraps from said veggies to make vegetable broth (simply add scraps/stocks to boiling water and let sit overnight).
One broth is done, strain scraps/stocks from broth and store broth separately.
Blend the scraps and stocks until smooth (you might need to add some hot water to do so). Once blended, add spices and herbs for flavor- and BOOM, you have soup.
Now, you’ve not only used the ENTIRE vegetable, but you’ve also created enough nutritious food that will keep for awhile.
We have also been freezing some of our fruits and veggies, as we never know when we’ll be able to get them again- so we stock up when they’re available, but don’t want them to go bad before we can eat them.
Given all the respiratory issues at the moment, I would suggest trying to steer clear from cold food (especially frozen food like smoothie bowls, ice cream, etc). However, you can freeze veggies to keep, then heat to eat.
Another big tip would be to get versatile foods that can be eaten in a variety of ways.
Veggies are great here because they can be prepared in multiple forms (roasted, boiled, soups, salads, patties, etc), as well as beans and legumes.
Chickpeas are probably my favorite, especially because you can also make sweets out of them (new Raw Cookie Dough Bites recipe on the blog), as well.
They’re also relatively inexpensive, and last for a long time in canned or dried form.
Lentils or black beans work well here too.
Lastly, I know I’ve said it before, but I have to say it again: INCLUDE SPICES AND HERBS.
Do not underestimate the power of spices and herbs.
Of course fresh is ideal, but that’s not necessarily possible at the moment.
You can either buy fresh, dry them out, and grind them yourself to save for later.
Or, you can stock up on powdered form.
Some of my favorites right now (and always) are: GARLIC (can’t stress this enough with current health issues), turmeric, ginger, red chili, cayenne pepper, paprika, parsley, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, and black pepper.
Remember, eating warm, cooked foods is going to be the most grounding AND the best for your lungs (according to Ayurveda and TCM).
And, also remember, you’re probably more stagnate than usual right now.
Meaning, you might not need as much fuel as usual.
I’m not saying you should starve yourself.
But, just notice what you NEED versus what you want.
Unfortunately, supplements are 110% a privilege to not only have access to, but also to be able to afford.
So, I apologize in advance to those who are unable to relate to this section. Please know that you can supplement your diet inexpensively and effectively with whole foods, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices.
I’m including this portion mostly because I get a lot of questions about what supplements I use.
Since my health issues last year, I used a SHIT load of supplements and herbs to recalibrate imbalances.
However, since then, I’ve been doing my best to get off everything- and let my body do it’s thing naturally.
The only EVERY DAY supps I use are: Silverfern Brand probiotics and digestive enzymes (use my code KAYALA for 10% off your order) and liquid B Vitamin (the liquid form was easier on my digestion that the capsules).
Since this global epidemic has exploded, and since my partner got the flu, I recently upped my supplement use in an effort to stay as healthy as possible.
If you are also upping your game, I strong suggest supporting your liver while doing so. Because, even if what you’re taking is natural, it’s still forcing your liver to do more work than usual.
I use Milk Thistle for liver support.
Next, if you can handle it- eat a clove of raw garlic every morning. This is a very inexpensive and very effective way to fight viral and bacterial infections. If you can’t handle eating it raw, you can get garlic capsules (more expensive), or just include A LOT when you cook.
I ALWAYS have ginger and turmeric water on hand (in a teapot, or a pot of hot water on the stove). I drink it warm throughout the day with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Getting greens is always important, no matter what, but especially important right now.
As I mentioned before, we have a shortage of produce here- which means we need to get the nutrition greens offer from SOMEWHERE.
One of my favorite on-the-go options that I also use while traveling is chlorophyll drops.
These can be pricey, BUT, they do last awhile. In fact, it might even be cheaper than what you’d spend on fresh greens based on how long they last.
I also bought some Moringa powder in case things get really dire, as this was the only organic option in the shop I was in (and Moringa is an incredible powerful superfood).
To be honest, I don’t ever really buy or use superfood powders unless they’re gifted- as I find I get enough nutrition from the whole foods I cook with.
The great thing about getting even just one bag of green powder during these times is that it will last a long time, and even just one scoop in a meal/drink can go a long way in terms of benefits.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of Echinacea, Vitamin C, and Elderberry.
This trio is my daily go-to for flu/cold fighting.
If you struggle to find or afford these products, know that all citrus fruits are a great option here.
Berries are also wonderful (although they’re not in season, making them more expensive and less “natural” in terms of what our body needs seasonally), because they’re rich in antioxidants.
If you’re looking to up your antioxidants, then cacao or matcha are a wonderful option.
However, for those who are caffeine-free/sensitive (like me!) then go for a berry herbal tea, instead.
3. Reduce Stress:
Bad news, this is repetitive.
Good news, that means this ridiculously long post will be over sooner than later.
But seriously, stress is a HUGE contributor to disease.
Take it from me- a control freak who’s prone to stress and continuous illness.
I get it, it’s hard NOT to stress when finances are tight, jobs are in question, we’re cooped up inside, and bombarded with fear through the media.
I’m right there with you.
And there have been multiple nights where I’ve woken up drenched in sweat, heart racing, in full panic attack mode.
The thing I’ve constantly been reminding myself is to TRUST and SURRENDER, rather than resist and worry.
Resistance and worry are wasting my precious energy that could otherwise be used to build my immunity, and ward off illness.
Stress is not making me stronger, so I’m kissing that shit goodbye (the best I can).
In the meantime, remember that when (I say when, because it feels inevitable) you slip into that state of anxiety around our current situation- observe that moment of angst with compassion, rather than beating yourself up for it.
It’s OKAY to feel the full spectrum of human emotions.
The point is to feel everything as mindfully as possible.
Rather than letting ourselves rest in any on place for too long- particularly if that means dwelling in stress, worry, and angst.
Also know that you’re not alone in how you’re feeling.
Despite being forced into physical isolation, I believe that one of the most people things about this whole crisis has been the global community that has formed.
Accept love and support when it’s offered.
And give back that same love and support when you can.
Both giving AND receiving is therapeutic, and stress-relieving.
We can do this.
I know we can.
I believe in you.
I believe in US, as a collective.
Join the movement to heal, to unite, to love.
That’s all that really matters in the end, anyways