Staying safe both physically and emotionally during the COVID-19 lockdown

We are all experiencing a global phenomenon never witnessed in such a way before. This of course brings with it enormous challenges both mentally and physically. For those who love to exercise regularly, these occasions have been severely curtailed, and for anyone who is self employed, there is the financial implications of a business almost swept away from under the feet in the space of a few days. 

What I plan to do is help those who may be finding this lockdown time difficult mentally, is that I can share with you some strategies and ideas to help keep you safe and well.

Let’s start with mindful eating. 

If you have been furloughed or on reduced hours, then the chances are you have a little more time on your hands to prepare, cook and eat your food. This is a wonderful opportunity to practice ‘mindful eating’.

Do you usually eat your meal in front of the TV, laptop or smart phone? It’s very easy to think that we are ‘maximising’ our time by these distractions but there is a belief that food may not be properly absorbed into the gut if we are not fully present with our eating ritual; and ritual it is!

The Japanese tea ceremony  (茶道, sadō or chadō, lit. “the way of tea” or 茶の湯, chanoyu) is a Japanese tradition steeped in history. It is a ceremonial way of preparing and drinking green tea typically in a traditional tearoom with tatami floor. The actual preparation, sharing and drinking of the tea takes time and is honoured by each person in the group (or individually). How often do we just pop a tea bag in a cup, wait a few seconds and then drink? There is something special and sacred when food and drink are given honour and respect. 

It may also be that we eat more than we need to, simply because we are not ‘tuning in’ to our stomach’s stretch receptors that tell us when we’re full. It can take up to 20 minutes for them to give out the ‘full’ signal so the most important thing to remember here is to slow down your eating. If a meal can be consumed in under 20 minutes then we are not giving our in-built sensors an opportunity to alert us that we are full!

Often children are taught to ‘say grace’ before a meal, and this too prepares the way for honouring the food we eat. Giving a simple blessing of thanks and appreciation before eating the food/drink is a wonderful way of acknowledging our gratitude. 

Chewing your food thoroughly, and enjoying and savouring the flavour and taste of each mouthful, putting your knife and fork (or chopsticks!) down between each mouthful, will enable your digestive juices to get to work on the food that is arriving more slowly. 

So, if you’re not already doing so, perhaps you could choose to eat mindfully for 24 hour and see how it feels? The benefits are many fold, but the main ones are enjoying the taste and texture of your food more, less risk of indegestion or heartburn, being able to register when the ‘full’ signal is deployed, as well as honouring the whole experience without distractions.