Covid-19, is it stressing you out?
These are interesting times thanks to Covid-19, aren’t they? And I think this is a perfect time for us to talk about one of my favourite subjects: stress.
But first tell me, how do you feel when you read that word? I’m betting there was some sort of emotional response, either rejection as in, “Not again”, or a slight tension in your belly, or an adrenal surge perhaps? This means your sympathetic nervous system is triggered, and every time that happens your whole body is affected. Some internal systems are ramping up, some, including the immune system, are shutting down, as our back-brain prepares us to fight or flee.
All the crazy running around stock-piling is the modern human’s interpretation of these impulses, running without thinking. Or, if stopped from your goal, fighting. Not a good way to stay healthy.
One of the most stressful things for a mammal is loss of self-autonomy, having decisions that you consider to be crucial to your well-being taken out of your control. For example, freedom of movement, freedom of association, an unrestricted supply of food or other resources. All of these freedoms are now being revoked as you socially isolate and suddenly realise how fragile our food chain is, and that you have no control of it.
Welcome to the life of a dog
You are now starting to live the life of your dog, or any domestic animal, dependent on outside circumstances with little say in their outcome. Your social interactions are circumscribed. Resources not freely available. Constant low levels of stress hormones are circulating in your blood, affecting your decision-making process, your digestion, your circulation, because it seems your life is not in your hands. How you deal with this will depend on your character, how much stress was present in your life already, and how secure you feel with the people that are around you. Just like your dog.
If you are an optimistic self-reliant person, with a financial cushion and a loving family you are probably not too worried. But if you were already facing challenges in your life, without support this may well bring your stress levels to unbearable levels. You might find yourself in “Freeze”. This is an outcome of unrelieved stress, especially when you feel helpless to change things. Something you often see in domestic animals who are not allowed to express their natural behaviours, or spend long hours cooped up alone.
Take control of your life
One way for you to reduce stress for yourself is to take back control. The easiest first step is to accept things as they are. This is equivalent to the happy animal who just gets on and makes the most of the life he finds himself in, jumping with joy to get the same lousy dried food day after day. Then, instead of feeling restricted or locked up, look at it as an opportunity to do something new or self-nourishing. Take care of your home. Plant a vegetable garden, or grow some seeds in a pot. This will also help you feel more self-reliant.
You can engage your brain and learn a new skill, which will make you feel good about yourself and increase your confidence and feelings of self-autonomy. This is what you do for your animal when you start to offer choices and help him explore the world he lives in for himself. Or when you let him learn something new, encouraging him to use his thinking brain and expand his intelligence.
Personally I am going to spend more time writing, read good books (here are some you might enjoy), and – At last! – file all my photos properly, which will certainly be one less stress in the back of my mind.
Do something interesting together
I know for sure that animals who are given the opportunity to self-select healing botanicals are happier, healthier and more expressive. Not being able to heal yourself is a major stress.
I believe that humans feel that way too. In times gone by every household would have home made healing teas, salves and tinctures to reach for when there was an illness or distress in the family. I think we miss that. I think that learning how to use plant medicine makes us feel more in control and empowered in our daily life. I am not saying that plant medicine is a magic cure for coronavirus, but I am saying that using nature’s pharmacy, along side good food and a low stress lifestyle will make you and your animals much less likely to fall ill, and empower you to care for yourself and those you love.
In these times of restricted movement and social isolation I would like to encourage you to do something fun and interesting with your animals. Essential Animal’s online courses are perfect for that, because as you learn you involve your animals in the practical assignments. We have courses for all levels of interest, about essential oils and other healing botanicals, how to reduce stress, and how to understand what your animals need to be healthy.
Your Own Home Pharmacy
And to get you started on your home remedy self-empowerment mission, here is a simple, natural spray recipe that may help inhibit contaminating agents on hands and boost your immune system at the same time. It will certainly smell good, which will make you breathe deeply and take in the immune boosting volatile molecules, and reduce your stress levels.
100ml hydrosol of either Thyme ct linalol (Thymus vulgaris ct linalol) or tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
15 ml unscented aloe vera gel
10 ml coconut oil or calendula macerated oil
10 drops of Rosalina (melaleuca ericifolia) essential oil, also known as lavender tea tree
3 drops of lemon essential oil
In a small glass bowl mix the essential oils and vegetable oil into the aloe vera gel. Then stir in the hydrosol. Pour the liquid into a 100 ml glass spray bottle, label with contents and date. Spray on hands. Ta-Da. This is a safe and gentle recipe, with no caustic ingredients, but don’t spray it on your house pets.
In short, stay calm and nourish yourself, and those you love and live with. Find ways to make the most of this change in your normal routine. Avoid overdosing with news and fear-mongering. Before you know it you’ll be saying, “Remember the pandemic in 2020? Whoo, wasn’t that something?”
Use code “home-study” for a 20% discount on these courses: