Category Archives: Covid-19

Take Good Care Of You – 10 Self-Care Tips to Promote Well-Being

Yesterday, I created a list of 10 Self-Care Tips To Promote Wellbeing During Social Distancing which I shared on my social media accounts.

This morning, I spent an hour on the phone with a technical support person at GoDaddy. Before I called, I’d spent a frustrating 45 minutes trying to figure out a solution to my problem myself.

That one hour with Ivan S at GoDaddy felt like good self-care. He was kind, patient (a necessity with me when trying to work out a technical problem) and funny in a really nice way.

What struck me was that my stubbornness (spending 45 minutes trying to fix a technology issue I have no idea how to fix is a clear indication of its gravitas), does not equate to self-care when I choose to ignore healthy and more peace-inducing ways of getting the job done.

In these stress-riddled times, taking care of our well-being is critical.

Here are some ideas to help you stay calm (and nope – calling technical support is not on it but it could be! Bottomline, if you are feeling stressed and need to chat with a human, calling a trusted family member or friend, reaching out to a therapist, the distress centre, is important!)

10 Self-Care Tips To Promote Wellbeing During Social Distancing

Handshakes and hugs are out. Elbow bumps were in but they too have fallen by the wayside as we hunker down at home and practice social distancing.

It can be hard in these times of chaos and upheaval to remember to take care of yourself. Yet, it is especially in these uncertain times that self-care is vital. Fear creates panic and panic robs our bodies of its natural defenses, weakening our immune system and putting stress on all our organs.

The following 10 tips offer some practical ways you can help yourself find your balance and inner calm, regardless of what’s happening in the world outside. It’s not about sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the facts of Covid-19s presence. It’s about staying conscious of the things you can control, the things you can’t, and acting on your inner courage to do the things you can do to keep yourself balanced and calm in the face of the unknown.

These tips can be incorporated into your everyday life, singularly, in groups of 2 or 3 or all together. It’s up to you. You are in control. You have the power to decide what you’re going to do with your day and how you’re going to take care of yourself.

    1. Light a candle. Daytime. Nighttime. Anytime. Scented. Unscented. Candlelight sets the scene for relaxation. It immediately signals to the brain to slow down. Your body remembers to breathe and you remember to get present.
    2. Listen to music. Avoid angry music, but soft, soothing, relaxing sounds (without words helps to turn your thinking-mind off). If you play tunes you like with words, sing along. Sing out loud. Sing at the top of your voice!
    3. Read a book. Listen to a podcast – something that inspires and excites you – while you sip a cup of your fav tea.
    4. Meditate. Sit in the quiet or play music. Find a guided meditation online. Just sit quietly and be present to the moment. Let the voices in your head float through like clouds across a blue sky. Breathe. In. Out. Breathe. In. Out.
    5. Pour yourself a bubble bath. Soak in it. Close your eyes. Breathe in the scents. The air. The feeling of being at peace, your body supported by warm, soothing water. (You can do 1 – 4 while in the bath! Wine in the bath works too!)
    6. Have a dance party. You don’t need a partner. All you need are some of your favourite tunes, a bit of space and your body – sitting, standing, lying down. Move whatever feels like moving. Let go. Let yourself feel the beat, let yourself move to the rhythm. Move as little or as much as you want – just move!
    7. Go for a run, a walk, a saunter. Do yoga at home, Qi Gong. Tai Chi – Gyms are closed but that doesn’t mean your body needs to stop moving. There are lots of resources online to inspire your personal workout.
    8. Spend time in nature. Get outside. Go for a walk with your dog, or a friend – just keep your social distance.
    9. Learn. Spend time doing/learning things you love to do. Cook. Sew. Paint. Write. Call a friend. Clean the fridge (it can be good for the soul to clear out ‘past due date’ foods!) Do woodwork – do something that sparks your imagination.
    10. Connect.  Connect. Connect.  You may be at home. You may be alone but there are things you can do to not feel lonely. Social distance doesn’t mean separation. It just means keeping the virus from spreading through the use of proven measures (like not getting too close to others). But, we all need to connect, to hear another’s voice, to share stories. Reach out. Create a Zoom call, FaceTime call with family and friends. Use technology to keep you connected across the distance so that your mental health does not become a victim of social distancing.  Repeat often. Connect. Connect. Connect. 

We are all in this together — all around the world. Self-isolation, social distancing are, for most of us, uncomfortable, uneasy actions to take.

We need to take them — what we need to ensure is that in taking them, we don’t overburden ourselves with worry, anxiety, feelings of being totally alone, fear and depression.

Please. If you are feeling overwhelmed. Reach out.

Your well-being is very, very important. You are very, very important.

Take good care of you and let’s all take good care of each other.

 

 

#CreateBoldly – An invitation

 

In The Memory of a Tree
11 x 14″ on acrylic paper
Mixed Media

I know. I know.  Two posts in one morning!

This one is actually from my SM feeds yesterday. I wanted to post it here as an invitation to you to join in too!

Create Boldly. 
#
CreateBoldly

Create Boldly is a creativity challenge I’m leading to keep myself, and anyone who cares to join me, grounded in gratitude, generosity and grace as we move through these unprecedented times. If life comes without a script, living through a coronavirus pandemic comes without a guidebook.
.
Create Boldly is an invitation to stretch yourself and your creative muscles and write your own guidebook on what it means to be alive at this time, right now.

If you don’t have a creative practice, it’s an opportunity to stretch completely outside your comfort zone, or, if you already do have one, to stretch your practice in unexpected ways.

How It Works

Every 2 or 3 days (I’m going with unscripted here), I’ll offer up a prompt via a theme — and you get to do the rest.

Today’s theme is: The Memory of Trees.

 

The Invitation:

Create your own poem, prose, haiku, story (as long/as short as you wish) based on the prompt, and paint, draw, use your computer or use paints, pencils, crayons…, and create a visual reflection on your poem/prose/story. Or you can just write something or paint/draw/sew/embroider/quilt something — remember, it’s unscripted.

There’s no right nor wrong way to participate. There is only the invitation to step into this space with me and explore what can happen when you let yourself Create Boldly.

All you need to do to participate is decide to do it and share your offerings here, on your FB or Instagram page and tag me (mlouiseg88) and use the hashtag — #CreateBoldly

That’s it.

An invitation.
An empty space.
An opportunity.

I hope to see you here in days yet to pass.

My interpretation of the prompt is a poem and a painting. I’m not sure which inspired which or which came first, the prompt, the poem or the painting…

In The Memory of a Tree
©2020 Louise Gallagher

In the memory of a tree
its roots are deeply planted
in the soil, grounded
in earth’s eternal journey
spinning around the sun.

In the memory of a tree
the seasons change,
time passes
like a river.
Nothing stays the same.

In the memory of a tree
spring bids farewell
to winter
and summer turns
to fall.
Everything changes.

Social distancing is our invisible fence

The beavers have been busy. Last fall, they chopped down over 50 trees along the riverbank for their lodge upriver.

Recently, they started working on the trees again.

Yesterday, as I walked the path along the river, I saw a city Parks & Rec truck driving towards me on the trail. Two women and their dogs stepped aside and let the truck pass.

When the truck got to me, the driver slowed down, stopped, rolled down his window and said, “What a beautiful dog!”

Beaumont did a little dance, (I swear that dog speaks English) I thanked him, we chatted for a few seconds, he drove away and I continued walking towards the two women who now had their dogs on leashes. As we passed each other, one woman asked me, “Are they giving out tickets?”

This park is an ‘unofficial’ off leash area. In conversation with our City Councillors office, I’ve been told its formal designation is pending a report on the entire rivers area. Ticketing, while possible, is not part of the ‘plan’.

I gave a startled laugh and replied, “Oh no. He just stopped to chat.”

“Oh good,” the woman replied. “I can let my dog off leash.”

I smiled and without conscious thought, reached out and gave her shoulder a reassuring tap with my gloved hand. “Absolutely,” I replied.

And then I realized what I’d done.

“Oh no,” I said from a safe distance. “I apologize. I didn’t mean to touch you!”

The women both turned to me, surprised looks on their faces. One woman held up both her hands, waved them in the air and said, “It’s okay. We’ve all got gloves on.”

The other woman laughed and said, “But be careful. You could get ticketed for touching.”

I laughed back and replied, “Now that would be a touching ticket!”

And we went our separate ways.

It is here. This consciousness. Awareness. Hyper-vigilance. It is here.

And it’s good to laugh. To tease each other. And to stay conscious of protocols that protect us.

I touched a woman’s shoulder yesterday. It is my intuitive reaction to someone else’s worry, concern, dismay.

In these days of Covid, it is not the thing to do. Even when wearing gloves.

It is good we could laugh.

It is good I remember to hold back my normal social responses in favour of social distancing.

It is all good.

___________________

On another note, the Parks Team have been busy erecting chicken wire fences around the trunks of the trees that line the river in an attempt to keep them safe from busy beavers.

Those fences, like social distancing, are erected as a barrier against harm. They keep trees safe from nature’s natural nature to do what it must to survive, to evolve, to transform, to create.

Social distancing is our invisible fence.  Let’s keep it strong so we stay standing in good health and vibrancy.

 

Creating An Oasis of Calm

At the bend, where the river curves and carves its way through the vestiges of winter’s ice, in that place where two benches wait to beckon visitors to come and sit awhile, two ducks waddle across the snow-covered ground honking for no reason but that they can. Above them, a squirrel chatters in a tree, leaping from limb to limb.

I stop to watch and listen. I stop to breathe and bear witness.

I needed to stop. To standstill. To breathe in the fresh cool air redolent of spring to come. I needed to stop and be present to all the life that was happening in that moment where the river flowed through the ice, the ducks waddled past and the squirrel flew through the air.

In these uncertain days of a virus hellbent on disrupting life as we know it, of lives shuttered in homes under fear’s relentless onslaught and incident counts climbing, I needed that moment of calm. That moment unburdened of anything but the beauty
of nature flowing by, the wonder of ducks walking past and the magic of a squirrel leaping.

I needed to stop. I needed to be reminded of life, and nature, and beauty.

______________________

I took a day off from the studio yesterday. And, while I did not create in that space, I baked bread and wrote the above piece about a photo I took on one of my walks with Beaumont. I spent half an hour watching the Live VideoCam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (meditative and calming),  I did some yoga. Checked in with family and friends via phone and Facetime and watched Coldplay’s Chris Martin’s Instagram pop-up concert (delightful!)

I also started working on a weekly art challenge to share with everyone — Creative Daring (more to come on that one — it was my eldest daughter’s suggestion) and spent some time exploring the Musee D’Orsay via the internet as well as reading a novel.

It is all part of my commitment to add calmness and beauty to the world. To create spaces of serenity and ease. To be the change I want to see.

It doesn’t mean fear doesn’t lurk at the edges of calm, seeking a crack through which to slip in and play havoc with my peace of mind.

Doesn’t mean I am zen-like in my aplomb.

It does mean that I am consciously feeding my peace of mind what is healthy and calming. I am actively disengaging from the constant scouring of the news I was prone to lapse into before I ‘got conscious’.

Fear leads to panic. Naming my fears leads to knowing them, and knowledge is invaluable — not the knowledge that comes from feasting on news reports of the latest statistics and growing crises around the world — but the kind of knowledge that reminds me of my own power to create ripples of calm, joy, beauty all around me and within me.

So that’s one of the other things I did yesterday — I named my fears.

I wrote them out on a piece of paper.
Studied them. Acknowledged them.
Welcomed them in and let them know —
I see you. I hear you. I know you.
I appreciate that you believe that in your presence you are only trying to keep me safe. I get it.

Please hear me.
I’ve got this.
You can rest now.
My loving self is in charge. My peace of mind is rising up to embrace you and all of me in its caring, considerate, calming arms.
I am okay.

I felt better after I’d done it. Sure, some of my fears feel real, like they’re of substance.

Fact is, they are all based on the unknown. Based on ‘what if’s’ and ‘oh no’s’ that run rampant through my thoughts when I let my fears take the reins of where my mind wants to go when fear-driven.

Fact is, whatever happens, will happen. My job is to ensure I am doing all the right things, right now, to create love and harmony, peace and calm, and above all, well-being, in my world around me. This world where my beloved and I share our home, our lives, our love.

In this space, whatever happens next has a better chance of being something I choose, not something imposed on me.

Knowing I am doing whatever I can to create an oasis of calm (and good health) in my life and our home, gives me great peace of mind, and strengthens my capacity to weather all kinds of weather.

What are you doing to take care of you? What are your tips for creating an oasis of calm in your world today?

 

 

In the eye of the hurricane, we stand united.

I awoke from a dream this morning, feeling… hopeful.

I am standing in the eye of a hurricane surrounded by millions upon millions of my sisters and brothers of every colour, creed and conviction. (A socially prudent distance apart, of course).

Around us, the winds buffet and howl. They swirl and moan and blow fiercely in a continuous cacophony of sound desperately attempting to drown out all commonsense, all moral conviction, all loving human interaction.

The wind is fighting to tear us apart.

We do not attempt to fight against it. We let the winds howl away as we stand with firm resolve in our shared human condition.

We are one people. One humanity. One planet.

We stand strong.

We stand together.

The winds blow more fiercely.

Someone asks, what can we do to keep us safe from this storm?

Someone yells above the chaos, “Be kind!”

Someone else yells, “Be grateful!”

“Be generous.”

“Be gentle.”

“Be tolerant.”

“Be loving.”

“Practice Self-love.”

“Practice Brotherly/Sisterly love.”

And someone else calls out, “Pass the toilet paper!”

And together, as one voice, we laugh and pass the toilet paper to those whose hands are empty.

And the calls for kindness, generosity, grace increase.

And the sound of the wind becomes drowned out by our humanity taking action to support one another, to love each other and to live the truth that connects us all:

We are one people. One humanity. One planet.

We cannot fight Covid-19 alone. We cannot fight it as individual countries, regions or districts.

Viruses do not respect man-made borders. They travel the globe unimpeded by laws prohibiting their entry.

We must set personal boundaries to keep it at bay. We must protect ourselves and each other by doing the right things that will preserve life and give the storm time to blow itself out without ravaging the lives of many.

We can keep our social distance.

We can wash our hands and the surfaces we touch.

And above all, we can treat eachother with the most powerful tools we have — our human capacity to be kind, considerate, generous, grateful, loving…

Let us all stand united in kindness.

Let us all be our brothers and sisters keepers.

Let us remember our humanity in the howling winds of this storm sweeping the globe and stand fiercely in love in the eye of the hurricane, strengthened by our collective commitment to take care of one another with loving-kindness, grace and generosity.

 

I read the news today. Oh boy.

No 58 – #ShePersisted Series
Mixed media on acrylic paper
11 x 14″

“I read the news today. Oh boy.” (Source)

Like an addict seeking their next fix, I scour the Net for the latest news related to Covid-19. I creep Facebook pages and furtively dart into Instagram threads like an underage teenager slipping into a sex shop, hoping to garner one tiny morsel of news that will feed my need to know what’sgoing on.

And I repeat it. Time and again. Even though I’m not clear on what more there is for me to know other than what I can do to keep myself and those I love safe and to minimize my risk of passing the disease along.

The numbers here are rising. We’re on the upside of the curve, desperately trying to flatten it down, while in the far east, they’re on the downward slide, desperately trying to revive shuttered lives and businesses.

Social distancing isn’t a cure but it helps stem the flow when we do it together.

Washing hands and avoiding touching my face will protect me. And I’m doing my best not to worry, but there’s still no guarantee Covid-19 won’t slip in through some unknown crack in my defences.

All I can do is breathe and trust. Breathe and trust.

I read the news today. Oh boy.

I don’t know why I keep reading.

Perhaps I’m hoping it’s all been a big mistake.

Perhaps I think I’ll read it’s over. Done. Gone.

Perhaps I’m just looking for hope between the black and white reality of these times we find ourselves in with nothing but good sanitation and keeping our distance to keep us safe.

I read the news today. Oh boy.

And then I re-read the lines I’d already devoured in an effort to stem my seemingly unending need for information.

And it’s then I realize, all this readin’ is not good for my health.

I don’t need to bury my head in the sand, but I do need to gain some balance between reading the news and living my life in these uncertain times.

Labels don’t change Covid’s reality just as knowing how many presumptive versus confirmed cases have occurred does not change the course of my day. Trusting that I am doing everything I can to keep myself and my loved ones safe, does.

Fact is, it’s not Covid-19 stealing my peace of mind, it’s my incessant reading of the news.

I read the news today. Oh boy.

And then, I stopped.

There is still a beautiful world out there. A world of nature and rivers flowing. Of sights waiting to be seen. Of adventures waiting to be had.

There are still words to be written. Paintings to be painted. Life to live.

It’s my choice whether I carry fear as my companion or peace of mind.

Because, while I may not have a lot of choice in what Covid-19 is doing, I do have choice in what I do. Today. Right now.

For now, those sights to be seen, those adventures to be had, those words to be written and paintings to be painted, they are mine to do, right here. Right now. Albeit, closer to home, and mostly alone.

For now. Because no matter what is happening today, this too shall pass.

The unknown always existed. It’s just right now, the unknown comes with a name that is stirring my worry genes and causing me to break out in a sweat.

And so, I breathe.

And the river flows past my window and I sit and watch its undulations.

I cannot change its course.

All I can do is to find my peace of mind by reminding myself I have the power to create a day full of beauty, love and grace. Right here. Right now.

I have the power, right here, right now, to find myself in this moment and breathe into the silence and the beauty that surrounds me.

I cannot change the course of Covid-19, but, together? Together we can stem its flow. We can flatten the curve of its impact. Together, we can get through this by doing the things we know we must do to manage its passing through.

I read the news today. And then I stopped. It is time for me to take control of what I allow into my mind, body, spirit and world.

This morning, I’m off to walk my dog. To watch him play in the snow. To watch the river flow past.

If I meet strangers in the park, I’ll keep my distance. It’s the right thing to do.

And with friends and family, I will use the tools of this technological age to keep us connected across the distance we must keep, for now, to hold each other safe.

We are all together in this place of the known and unknown. Of the certain and uncertain. Let’s walk as one voice, one people, one humanity in gratitude, generosity and grace to ensure we survive with our hearts intact, our connections to one another strong, and our planet a place of good health and well-being for all.

Namaste.

 

Do One Thing Everyday

Emotional self-care takes conscious action. Spending time in nature, meditation, doing things that bring you pleasure, art-making, quilting, sewing, cooking, reading… are some of the things we can each do to take care of ourselves.

I created this yesterday to lift my spirits and to remind me that, no matter what is going on in the big world out there, how I respond is important to me and the world around me.

Yes, these are uncertain times. Yes, no one knows for sure what is going to happen, how the world will right itself again, what ‘the future’ looks like post-Covid. The future is uncertain but this moment, right now, this moment in which we live and breathe and act and are, in this moment we can take care. We can be present to all that is without fear overwhelming our capacity to act with intention, kindness and grace.

When we stay calm, when we treat one another with kindness and grace, when we act with compassion and good-intention, we create better in our world.

For the next while, I am committed to creating one thing every day that speaks to the heart and soul of my being present here, with you, with me, on this earth in hope, in possibility, in Love.

namaste