States and cities across Australia are facing the rollercoaster that is lockdown & social restrictions. Especially if you’re on the east coast at the moment, times may feel particularly tough.

These lockdowns have broad and far-reaching effects on our health: physically, mentally, emotionally, socially & spiritually. Whether you go with the flow and embrace the home-bound vibe, or if you deeply struggle being cooped up, we could all use some self-care & self-love to look after our minds & bodies.

Today, we want to provide you with some easy, helpful tips and tools for prioritising yourself and optimising your health if you’re currently facing (or recovering from) a lockdown period.

But first…

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge and validate any and all feelings you may have right now. Frustration, sadness, grief, anger, joy, relief, depression, confusion – all of the feelings – are appropriate and valid during this time. We still find ourselves in a truly unprecedented time, and with this journey comes fluctuating feelings, too. Go easy on yourself and others around you. A little empathy and kindness, towards others AND yourself, goes a really long way.

So, how can we better look after our mental & physical health during this time?

1. Make time for rest & recharging

Might sound a little strange given that many of us are in a period of ‘mandated rest’. That said, lots of people are still working hard in their jobs, businesses and communities. And for some, the current lockdown and pandemic only increase the daily load of jobs & to-dos.

So when you do get a chance for rest – how do you spend your time? Do you find yourself zoning out, binge-watching your favourite Netflix series, heading to the pantry or fridge for snacks, or watching the news?

Some of these activities that are typically seen as rest can actually be quite draining and zap your mental and physical energy. Granted, sometimes we need a total break, doing absolutely nothing to reset our nervous systems.

With this in mind, you may like to explore ways of resting that are more restorative & beneficial to your whole system.

For your emotional state, meditation is incredibly beneficial. Meditation doesn’t have to be long, difficult or complicated. It can be as simple as:

  • noticing your breath for 5 minutes in the morning or before going to bed
  • practising deep breathing techniques (here’s a guide to Alternative Nostril Breathing from our naturopath, Karinda. You may also find box breathing helpful. Deep breathing is especially important if you work in a space where you’re wearing a mask most of the time)
  • focusing on a mantra or affirmation
  • listening to relaxing music
  • being in nature and paying gentle attention to a plant, tree, the sky, sunshine, wind or colours that you can see.
Meditation can be a great way to center yourself and calm your mind during tough times

You may like to try an app for guided meditations, journeys and visualisations. We find Insight Timer is a great free option with a wide range of different meditation styles.

2. Correcting nutritional deficiencies

Did you know that stress increases the demand for nutrients? When we experience stress (real or imagined), there are various physiological processes that are triggered. These processes require more energy and resources from our bodies, and function to bring us back into balance after stressful periods.

These processes require nutrients that we can get from our food or nutritional supplementation. These nutrients are used to activate cellular reactions or are recruited to synthesis stress hormones that we need in stressful times and to restore organ function.

Here are some of the key nutrients that are most quickly depleted with stress:

  • Magnesium
    • You can supplement this with a tablet or powder formula, or increase magnesium-rich foods in your diet, such as dark leafy greens, almonds and dark chocolate. Ask our naturopaths about the best magnesium formula for you
    • Magnesium may also help you achieve a deeper, restful sleep and support optimal muscle recovery
  • Vitamin C
    • Be sure to focus on orange & red-coloured foods to boost your levels of Vitamin C (for example, from red capsicums, tomatoes and oranges). You can also supplement Vitamin C with tablets, powder or liquid
    • Not only for immune function, but Vitamin C is also a key nutrient for your adrenal glands, a critical organ during stressful times
  • Zinc
    • Especially if you’re on a plant-based diet, you may be lacking in zinc. Zinc is responsible for over 300 reactions in our body, so it’s not surprise that the demand increases when our body is in a state of stress
    • You can supplement zinc in a liquid or tableted form, otherwise pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc. Ask our naturopaths at your next appointment for a zinc tally test to assess your unique zinc status

If we let these nutrients remain deficient without correction, our health can suffer further. For instance, inflammation may become chronic and unregulated, we can experience fatigue, brain fog, hormone imbalances, mood disturbance or immune dysregulation. Other common nutritional deficiencies that are aggravated with stress include:

  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (some of our practitioners can also order you a test to assess your levels on omega-3s)
  • Iron
  • B Vitamins (especially B12, B6 & B3)

3. Using herbal medicine

Herbs often get underestimated as merely culinary additions to our food or a form of alternative medicine that doesn’t work. We say no way to that!

Herbal medicine is a huge field that has an ever-growing body of modern evidence, and a long-standing history of traditional use. We can utilise certain herbs to support our physical AND mental wellbeing. Not every herb is suitable for everyone (and not every ‘brand’ provides that same quality of herbs, if you’re looking at supplements), so be sure to consult with a trained herbal medicine practitioner (such as our naturopaths!) to discover the herbs that are best for you.

That said, herbal teas are a safe, affordable and easily accessible way of introducing the power of herbal medicine into our homes. Here are our go-to-herbs during tough times:

  • Motherwort for stress and anxiety (especially if it presents with heart palpitations) and supporting the heart-charka
  • Ginger to help warm your body up and reduce inflammation
  • Tulsi as a stress-easing adaptogen
  • Passionflower to help you wind down after a long day of homeschooling or Zoom meetings
  • Valerian to help with sleeplessness
  • Chamomile & Lemon Balm for digestive issues that flare up with nervousness or anxiety
  • Panax ginseng to bust fatigue, low energy and feeling overall depleted

Ask our naturopaths which herbs would be best for you & your family.

4. Make time for movement

Creating a sense of routine is important when our home & work lives drastically change, or when you’re stuck at home all day. Exercise is a fantastic addition to your home routine to keep you grounded and on track, while also providing countless physical and mental health benefits.

Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be boring, painful or overly intense to receive benefits. Even just 30 minutes daily of mild to moderate, intentional movement is enough to reap the benefits.

Try to get the kids involved in your at-home movement routine!

Try arranging a daily walk with a friend or relative in your radius, or going for a bike ride on a local bike path. It might

be a good time to experiment with different forms of movement and exercise, such as dancing, kickboxing, hula hooping, pilates or yoga. The Internet is filled with amazing videos for beginners & advanced routines that can all be done at home if you’ve got enough space for a mat and 30 minutes of uninterrupted time.

5. Seek support & stay connected

We’re all much more aware of mental health in general, and a time like this only magnifies mental health issues, the importance of looking after our minds & emotions and the need for support.

If you’re feeling particularly isolated, we encourage you to reach out to a friend, family member or even colleague for a few moments of human connection (especially if you’re living alone).

Facetime, Zoom calls and video chatting is also a great way of staying connected to those you love without leaving the house.

If you feel you’re in crisis or need urgent support, please call LifeLine on 13 11 14. If you’re not in crisis but want to reach out for connection, please contact Friendline for phone or chat support here.

Our holistic counsellor & hynpotherapist Alec Halls is available for phone support during this time and face-to-face healing sessions once lockdown lifts in Melbourne. Please contact our reception for more information.

Once the lockdown and restrictions are eased, we will be hosting drop-in meditation evenings at Botanica, led by Alec. Stay tuned to our social pages like Instagram and Facebook, or sign up to our newsletter, to receive updates on these meditation evenings.

If you have any questions, leave us a comment or contact us here

Please note our shop is only open for phone orders & collection between 11 am and 2 pm during the lockdown period.