We asked health expert and FSB Member Chantelle Dawson for her advice on how to stay resilient during lockdown, as many business owners are feeling that their energy levels are low from juggling their many priorities, and here are her top tips. Chantelle opened The Balance Rooms in Pickering last year to offer yoga, therapies and green living supplies under one roof at the old Yorkshire bank premises. She joined FSB during the pandemic through a funded first year membership provided by Ryedale District Council. For more details of this scheme and other local authority supported memberships contact FSB Membership Advisor, Adam Guttridge.
Originally from Canada, Chantelle has a double degree in Biology and Neuroscience and has been practicing yoga since she was 16 years old. She believes very strongly in the fundamental tenet that the body wants to be in a state of harmony with itself and with its surroundings, and that we can get it to that place through very simple techniques like those listed below.
Tomorrow looms upon the horizon, and the prospect of yet another lockdown weighs heavily on the hearts and heads of many across our nation. We have been through this before, we remember how hard it was, how isolated we felt, and we are still coping with the complex emotions that it created. How on Earth are we supposed to face this again?
Instead of despairing, let’s flip this upside-down and recognise that we can utilise knowledge from the first lockdown to help us not just survive but thrive during this second lockdown. Here are my top 5 tips to help you genuinely enjoy your time over this next month:
1. Get outside and connect with nature.
Many of our favourite outdoor spaces, like Dalby Forest, were closed during the first lockdown, but this time they are not, they are wide open and they are calling your name! The Japanese have known for decades just how helpful getting outside in nature really is. In fact they even have a name for it and their doctors prescribe it for stress relief and for lowering blood pressure! Shin rin yoku, or forest bathing, is the act of being in nature, breathing in the phytochemicals released by the trees, allowing yourself to feel connected to the Earth around you. Whether you prefer to walk a beautiful trail, run along with your dog, hop on your mountain bike, or bundle up warm and lie down to admire the changing foliage of autumn, you will benefit from the fresh air and you will enjoy a much needed break from the constant reminders present in society of the current situation.
2. Get plenty of rest.
This seems like a straightforward one but alas, it is not. More and more research is showing that we are not getting enough sleep. The popular notion of needing 8 hours a night is somewhat flawed, in that it refers to how much time we actually need ASLEEP. Many people go to bed, cradling their phones and/or tablets, and even though they might be in bed for 8 hours, they are sleeping for just 5-6 of those hours. Over the next month, set your intention to be in bed for 9 hours a night and do not take devices to bed with you; instead, why not try reading a book or doing a crossword? These types of activities before bed won’t disrupt sleep as much as the unnatural light emitted from screens.
3. Practice yoga.
Even though you may think I am biased as a yoga studio owner, this beautiful practice was a calming part of my life for 23 years before it became my occupation. Spending time on your mat has many benefits. There are the obvious physical benefits of gaining strength and flexibility, as well as lowering blood pressure; but there are also many subtle changes that begin to occur with a regular yoga practice. Awareness of the breath allows you to take back control of your own mental state, using a deeper breath to help combat moments of heightened stress, allowing you to find moments of calm off your mat, out in the world. Time spent in this manner connecting with your breath allows your mind to still, giving you the space to process many things that you might not even be aware of. Ultimately, yoga leads to a deeper connection between your body, your mind and your spirit. Even though physical yoga studios have been told to close over lockdown, many of them like mine teach a whole range of classes via zoom at different times of the day to suit all levels and schedules. Because they are taught live, they are much more personable than simply following a recording on You Tube, and it can lead you to feel more connected to other likeminded spirits.
4. Recognise that your diet impacts your mood.
Even though it might be tempting to reach for the nearest bar of chocolate or bottle of merlot, what we put in our bodies has a much greater impact than we may realise on our mental health. More and more research is coming to the same conclusions: sugar laden food and drink, as well as hard to digest animal products such as meat and dairy, lead the digestive tract to be in a permanent state of inflammation. This has a cascade effect within the body, affecting the production of many neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in our mood. Warming autumnal plant based recipes, like vegetable soups, lentil dhals, and chickpea curries will leave you feeling pleasantly full and will have a positive impact on your mood. Aim to snack on fresh fruit and vegetables instead of processed foods, wash it all down with plenty of water, and you’ll see your mood improve dramatically within a short period of time.
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5. Stay connected in any and every way that you can to the people in your life who leave a smile upon your lips.
We are social creatures, animals, at the end of the day. What we need to get through this life is connection to likeminded spirits who love us, who we love, and who make us feel valued, important, and needed. Instead of scrolling through instagram looking at photos of your friends, why not call one on the phone and have a chat? Or meet for a walk and tick two things off this list in one go?!? However you can, connect with loved ones in a non-social media sense, and share some lovely light moments. Laughter itself has been shown in many studies to improve mood, so keep it light and enjoy the company of someone you love, be it in person or over the phone.