Self Care During the Pandemic- What’s in your tool box?

Hey readers! My friend Lauren (an incredible yoga instructor and reiki practitioner) is sharing some great tips for our self-care series this week!
Written by: Lauren Tamburello Bio: Lauren found yoga when she was in the final months of her master’s in public health program. During this time in her life, she was anxious, burnt-out, and running on little sleep. She was not taking very good care of herself. Yoga helped (and continues to help!!) Lauren to sloooooow doooooooown, be more centered, and take better care. Just months after finding yoga, Lauren knew it was a practice that she needed to adopt as a lifestyle. Lauren completed her 200 hour teacher training at Lexington Power Yoga in Vinyasa Yoga. She is passionate about practicing and teaching safe and functional movement and making yoga accessible to all bodies. In addition to yoga, Lauren is a reiki practitioner. She believes in the healing power of touch and relationships. When she is not teaching, practicing or trying to incorporate yoga philosophy into her meetings and interactions at her day job, Lauren can be found dancing, cooking, reading self-help books, listening to live-music, drinking coffee, and having deep conversations with friends. Check out this link to hop into one of Lauren’s classes:
Live Classes
Yoga has been my lifeline – primary self care tool – during the covid 19 pandemic. I have found myself pulling it out of my tool box at least daily – often multiple times a day. It has helped my physical body through movement and stretches after long days at work and excessive time sitting. It has helped my mind (and preserved some degree of my sanity :)) by providing me the opportunity to slow waaaaaaay down, let go of stress and anxiety from the day, and create a quiet space for me to process, reflect, and connect/check in with myself. I have found it helpful to start and end my day with the practice – typically with just 15- 30 minutes. I have started leaving my yoga mat unrolled and favorite props <yoga blocks and foam roller> out for easier access and as a reminder. Sometimes I follow along to a class (I’ve included some of my favorite resources below) or sometimes practice without instruction and focus on moving my body organically and intuitively, sometimes with my favorite music playing. My practice looks different every day as I adapt it to meet my needs. Where to start? Body & Breath I always begin my practice with a few minutes in stillness (usually in child’s pose or constructive rest) and focus on slowing/ elongating my breath and checking in with my physical body and mind. I ask myself How am I doing? and force myself to slow down and answer honestly. (Please note- this is not that easy to do! How many times when someone asks you “how are you?” and you automatically, without even thinking, respond “good” or “busy”. Try to answer with more depth next time you’re asked the question.) I often do a body scan, a tool that involves bringing awareness to the entire body, part by part. You can notice any tension, discomfort, etc. and work to let it go. I typically start at the crown on my head and work my way down my body to the tips of the toes. Before/ after connecting with my physical body, I work to focus my attention on my breath and often will play with counting my breath – maybe you start with 5 cycles of breath (1 cycle = inhale & exhale) and work towards 10 cycles. I focus on sending my breath into my chest, my lungs, and into my belly and allowing my exhales to be just as long as my inhales. Sometimes I will try to take the deepest breath I have taken all day. I follow this body and breath work with an instructor-led class or unstructured practice or will end my practice here. Here are some of my favorite shapes- Back, shoulder, spine mobility Constructive rest
 Foam rolling Cat/ cow Reclined twist Stretch Backs of the legs Viparita karani (legs up the wall or block at lower back)
 Downward dog Forward fold Tight Hips Happy baby
 Figure 4 (can do this at your desk while seated or on your back.
 Child’s pose
 Mantras that have helped me through this time- Healing I can do the hard things. Breathe Do small things with great love. Stop rushing. Here are my favorite FREE classes/ instructors- YMCA of Greater Boston You can check out my weekly live classes here!!! I teach a live virtual gentle flow yoga class on Tuesday and vinyasa flow class on Friday. I also teach in person classes at the Oak Square YMCA on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30a. Yoga with Kassandra Insight timer

Walk your way to healthy

It feels appropriate to be writing this blog on my busiest day of the week (and probably my busiest work day so far this school year). But self-care is just as important on our busy days (arguably more so), so here I am…

Let’s talk about walking!! You might expect me to pop on here on a Wednesday and talk about Workout Wednesday. And while I ALWAYS encourage a good sweat session, I think it’s more important to take the stress away from exercise and focus on movement…especially on our busy days.

Today I worked two jobs. I rushed around getting the kids ready for school this morning, trained clients, and worked at 3 different schools throughout the day. Then pick up, baths for the kids, dinner, bedtime routine…you get it.

So today I didn’t get a workout in. But I did commit to fresh air and movement, walking between school buildings during the day and a quick walk with my son after preschool pick up. It was COLD and crazy windy here, so I did have to convince myself to do those walk…maybe a few times!!

Was I glad I took a break from the never ending “to dos” to move my body and get some fresh air???

Sure was!!!

Did I feel happier and more energetic because of it???

Sure did!!!!

I’m not here to tell you about the NUMEROUS health benefits of walking those 10,000 steps a day. Hopefully everyone knows that by now.

What I am here to say is that, no matter how tired, anxious or overwhelmed I feel on a given day, the gift of fresh air and movement does not escape me. And, like the ADAPTOGENS I wrote about last week, walking is a non-negotiable part of my day that truly makes a difference.

Pic of my two favorite waking partners…from sunnier days, of course!!

Adaptogens-what are they anyway??

In the spirit of my self-care/stress reduction tips on here this month, I want to focus on one of my daily habits that helps me mediate the harmful effects of daily stress: ADAPTOGENS

Adapta what??

Adaptogens are herbs found in nature that help modulate the physical effects of stress, such as increased heart rate, rush of energy and increased blood pressure. These responses are produced in our bodies in response to acute stress, but when the stress hormones that produce these reactions are in overdrive from chronic stress, the effects can be harmful.

And chronic stress is such an epidemic in our lives…these days more than ever. A few years ago I finally decided to add a botanical adaptogenic drink to my daily routine (after doing a good amount of research), and fell in love right away!

Better sleep!

Better energy!

Improved workout recovery (cortisol levels are elevated post workout)

Immune support

I’ve seen adaptogens getting a lot of buzz right now in mainstream media and I’ve seen for myself what a difference they make.

I’d love to hear if you’re a fan too!

My morning botanical tea!

Self care is NEVER selfish!

I haven’t written on here as much as I hoped to these last few months, for many good reasons. Like so many of you, I’ve been focusing on one day at a time, trying to stay present and trying to take care of my own physical and mental health. And amidst all that is going on in the world right now, that seems like the right place to place my priorities.

I hope all of you are prioritizing self-care as much as possible these days as well. Whether it’s a good workout, a good book or even a good cry in the shower, we all need some “me time”, some easy lifestyle hacks to add to our day and some moments to just breathe. And some accountability to make it all happen.

So this month, I’m going to be focusing my posts on easy things you can do to focus on self-care. Because, when so much of our world is out of our control, let’s focus on what is…

Stay tuned!!

How I’ve started each day of the last 3 months. And, believe me, it helps!!