How to Feel Better
TAP INTO OUR COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS FOR ADVICE ON STAYING CALM, ACTIVE, AND CENTERED DURING THIS CHALLENGING MOMENT IN TIME
In the midst of the fast-and-furious news updates, the atmosphere of gloom and doom, and the strict instructions to stay huddled at home, something amazing is happening. People are coming together—virtually, spiritually—and offering what they can to lift each other up. While it’s totally normal to feel overtaken by feelings of worry, fear, and loneliness, now is the time to open yourself up and let the light in. We’ve gathered tips, and resources from our Sakara family to help you weather this unexpected and difficult journey—and perhaps emerge stronger, healthier, wiser, and more inspired than before.
Even six feet apart, we’re in this together.
If you’re feeling anxious, fearful, or sad…
Find your heart center. Whether or not you normally struggle with anxiety (but especially if you do), this is a challenging time. According to Kate McCabe, Sakara’s Social Marketing Manager and a certified yoga instructor, “anxiety stems from disconnecting from our physical bodies and operating from a mostly cerebral space versus a heart-centered space. Anything that takes you out of your head and back into your body is massively helpful when combatting anxiety.” For Kate, that includes streaming The Class by Taryn Toomey via their digital platform (with tons of class times; they are offering two weeks free) and grounding breathwork series on Lauren Spencer King’s digital platform.
When Amanda Baudier, Sakara's VP of Business Development and an expert in alternative forms of healing, feels overwhelmed, she goes straight to the source—the nervous system. “Set your phone timer for three minutes, close your eyes, and take deep breaths in and out of your nose until you hear the 'ding’,” she explains. “Just three short minutes can create a palpable energetic shift and pull you out of ‘fight or flight’ mode.” Affiliate Program Manager Arianna Bickle recommends a favorite book, Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much by Anne Wilson Schaef, which offers a daily meditation. “It’s truly helped me to slow down,” she says.
People are coming together—virtually, spiritually—and offering what they can to lift each other up.
You may be cooped up inside, but rules of social distancing and isolation don’t apply to your imagination. “When I’m feeling anxious, I try to envision my happy place—like my mom’s screened porch during the summertime with a good book,” says Sakara copywriter Kara Neff. “A few deep breaths with that in mind and the calming effect is true bliss.”
Stick to your rituals. Even prior to quarantine, you’ve likely heard the well-worn “work-from-home” advice about getting showered and dressed just like a normal day. That guidance certainly applies here; now is not the time to abandon your routines. Christina Mahaffie, a Sakara Health Coach and certified yoga instructor, is actually doubling down on her rituals, adding extra steps like a slowly-savored cup of green tea with her morning journaling and lighting candles to make her evening wind-down a little cozier.
For Kirby Stirland, Sakara’s Head of Copy and Content, a certain level of isolation is de rigueur. “Under normal circumstances, I enjoy being at home. I’m trying to remind myself that it needn’t be different just because it’s sort of mandated right now.” She’s indulging the nesting instinct while fostering a sense of normalcy by cooking nice meals—a meditative process in its own right—and setting the dinner table thoughtfully, with candles, placemats, and cloth napkins. One important deviance from the norm: “No news on TV during dinner! We're listening to records or playing old episodes of our favorite British comedy that remains consistently funny even though we've seen it a million times.”
Tap into your community. Healers of all kinds are coming together to offer their services in this time of need. Sakara Founder and co-CEO Danielle Duboise recommends Deborah Hanekamp, a.k.a. Mama Medicine, an energy healer who offers medicine readings (conducted remotely via video conferencing) to help people navigate any fear they’re experiencing. She's offering $20 off medicine readings to the Sakara community with SAKARA20 for the remainder of the year. Some of our other favorite practitioners offering their resources right now are:
If you’re feeling cooped up and stir-crazy…
Move your body. Hannah Shanken, S Life Editor and Sakara’s resident dancing queen, is turning to her favorite form of exercise to defuse anxiety and break up stagnant breath. “I’ve found solace in my dance teachers in New York City and Los Angeles, who are putting together Instagram Live videos every few days so that we can all ‘shake and out’ and get through this as a community,” she says, pointing to comedian Greta Titelman’s “When the Matcha Hits” dance and Ryan Heffington’s interpretive dances to Florence + The Machine. Other remote resources for physical movement the Sakara family is loving include:
If, like Kirby, you belong to a local gym that’s temporarily closed, it might be tempting to cancel your membership, but think twice before you do so. “I love my gym community and want it to survive this and be able to reopen, so I’m continuing to pay for my membership,” she says. “Plus, they’re offering daily programming while they’re shut down, as well as accountability through GroupMe chats. So I’m still getting a lot of value out of my membership.” Your favorite trainers and fitness influencers may also be sharing workout content via their social channels, including bodyweight or minimal-equipment workouts and even classes via video.
Get some fresh air. As long as you heed official guidance to keep a safe (i.e. six-foot) distance from others, going outside daily is actually a doctor-recommended tip for staying healthy and sane. For Senior Graphic Designer Erin Cauley, who’s lucky enough to be camped out at her family home in the Hamptons, proximity to the beach is a blessing. “I make it my goal to run there so I can catch sight of some ocean and sand,” she says. For Photo Assistant Elizabeth Coetzee, an outside “photo walk” gets her out of her head. "I just photograph what I see and keep moving,” she says. “Sometimes I never even look at the pictures I take; I just focus on my surroundings.”
Create something—or nothing. Channel some of your excess energy into making something. “Everyone has the capability to create, even if they don’t consider themselves an artist, and it offers us an avenue to release,” says Health Coach Sasha Pagni. “Journal, draw, cook, play guitar, dance—it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s moving energy.” Of course, the inverse also has value; if the call to creativity just feels like pressure, pull back. “When you’re not working, take time to do absolutely nothing,” Sasha adds. “It’s easy to feel like we need to be productive but oftentimes in moments of uncertainty the best thing we can do for our nervous system is nothing.”
It’s easy to feel like we need to be productive but oftentimes in moments of uncertainty, the best thing we can do for our nervous system is nothing.
Nourish yourself and your loved ones. You’re home, and you must eat. With the extra time indoors, set your idle hands and busy mind to a culinary pursuit. “My way of dealing with stress and anxiety is to cook and bake,” says Copywriter Halley Furlong-Mitchell, who’s working her way through recipes from Bon Appetit, My New Roots, and NYT Cooking (and whose parents, who she’s staying with, are enjoying the tasty results). “Now is the time to make Mark Bittman’s famous no-knead bread,” Kirby adds. “It requires few ingredients and little skill—just time at home, which you have.” Sasha, an herbal medicine enthusiast and virtuosic home cook, has been busy in the kitchen. “I use the plant allies I have, incorporating grounding foods and herbs like root veggies, mushrooms, ashwagandha, lavender, and ginger.” To help you nourish your immunity with whole, healing plant foods, we’ve compiled our favorite recipes here, or if you’re feeling ambitious, try your hand at Michelin-level recipes care of Massimo Bottura’s Kitchen Quarantine video series. (If cooking feels like too much right now, or you’re low on groceries and want to stick close to home, Sakara has you covered with fresh, plant-rich, organic meal delivery, which is available nationwide.)
Escape through welcome distractions. Dig into the things that light you up, whether that’s music, literature, or learning something new. Editorial Director Kerstin Czarra recommends tuning into the live stream from KCRW, Los Angeles’ public radio station, for a break from the news. “If you visit their music site, there are endless live sessions with every kind of band you can imagine,” she reports. “You are sure to find a few of your favorite artists and discover some new ones you never knew you needed.” You can also stream an opera, take Ivy League courses for free, or explore your local library’s offering of online media. When it comes to social media, you have to gauge your own tolerance and ability to self-discipline; too much screen time can send you spiraling. But a curated scroll can actually provide a pleasant escape. “At first I was nervous to go on social media, but actually, I've found it to be quite comforting,” says Operations Associate Rae Wright “Journalist Vera Papisova has been such a breath of fresh air. Her stories and posts resemble a diary, one where fears and anxieties are not only present and discussed, but also accepted and recognized.” Other Instagram accounts we’re keeping tabs on:
If you’re feeling lonely or isolated…
Seek connection. Just because you can’t socialize in person doesn’t mean you can’t experience the very real health and wellness benefits of meaningful human connection. It can be as simple as texting with friends each day to check-in, as Hannah has been doing. Or try being alone together, using apps like FaceTime and Houseparty to hold virtual happy hours and coffee dates. “When I’m feeling lonely, I coordinate with my friends to watch the same Sex and the City episode ‘together’,” says Christina. Erin knows exactly where to turn when she needs a change of perspective. “When I’m feeling stressed about the news, I play with my baby nieces, who are blissfully unaware of what's going on,” she says. “They bring me back down to Earth.”
Call in gratitude. It might sound trite, but there’s still a lot of goodness in the world—in fact, times of struggle tend to bring out the humanity in all of us. Graphic Designer Amelia Wilson is carving out time to connect with thankfulness each day. “I have been lighting incense and sitting on my floor to take a five-minute breathing break and finding the things I am grateful for, big and small,” she says. For VP of Brand and Creative Fran Gaitanaros, being homebound, while challenging (especially with a brainy fourth-grader, who she and her husband are now homeschooling), has an upside. “My husband’s work involves a lot of travel. The bright side is, this is the longest he has been in town in a while,” she says. “In some way, being together, alone has made room for a deeper intimacy among the three of us.”
In some way, being together, alone has made room for a deeper intimacy among the three of us.
Once you’ve located a source of light within yourself, help it grow by repeating one of the mantras Sasha has been leaning on lately: Om saha nau bhunaktu: “Let us be nourished together,” and lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu: “May all beings be happy and free, may all beings know peace.”