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Managing Reopening Anxiety: 7 Tips to Protect Your Health

Returning to “normal” has never felt so strange. As the government and businesses plan reopening, the uncertainty around what that will look and feel like can be as (or even more) anxiety-producing than the thought of just staying inside. 

Outside, people and situations operate outside our control, and while that can be frightening, it can also be an opportunity to lean into personal boundary setting. And getting in touch with your own levels of comfort is critical for protecting your physical, mental, and emotional health at any time (not just during global pandemics).

Here are a few ways to manage reentry in a way that feels healthy and right for you:

1) Be prepared and follow protocols. Find a mask you'll enjoy wearing (fun patterns & colors help!), and keep a few on hand. Figure out which one feels easiest to wear. For example, I learned that I prefer a mask that hooks behind the ears, as opposed to ties. I also prefer a machine-washable mask in a soft, breathable fabric for New Orleans summers.

 2) Accept that reopening means assuming risk. Check in with yourself about what amount of risk you are willing and able to assume. Plan accordingly and communicate clearly with others about what they are. 

3) Foster your boundaries around #2 and stick to them. You should feel safe and comfortable, while protecting your health and the health of those around you. Feel free to deny that social invitation if it's around folks you don't feel have their or your safety in mind OR if you feel uncomfortable.

4) Try to avoid the blame and shame game. All you can do is manage how you and your quarantine team are feeling. Trying to control others will only increase your feeling of helplessness and frustration.

5) Be transparent! Get comfortable talking about how you feel, especially when making plans with others. Have a conversation in advance to express your needs and expectations. You can ask: “I'm only comfortable if everyone is wearing masks and distancing, is that the case?" Being open about how you feel models transparency for your people and helps them do the same. We are all in uncharted territory, and all we can do is our best, so being upfront about this process is key.

6) Limit sources of anxiety. Maybe now is not the best time to read about crowded beaches over the holiday weekend. If someone is directly threatening your sense of personal comfort and safety, speak up. Otherwise, it’s not worth the peace of mind.

7) Take your time! There is truly no rush to "get back to normal." Let FOMO be a thing of pre-COVID life, and let this be an opportunity in focusing on your needs and desire. Accept that your pace of reopening may not look the same as your neighbors’. Everyone approaches reopening (and life) differently.

No matter how you navigate this, please remember to be gentle with yourself, even when you make mistakes or fumble! Now that we aren't confined to home as much, it can be a true sanctuary from which to retreat from the intensity of the outside world and be in selfcare. Soak it up!

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How to: Hydrotherapy

Nothing says cleansing quite like washing everything off your body, and hydrotherapy goes the extra mile, leaving you invigorated and boosting your mood, circulation, and lymphatic system. I love this home practice, and it feels especially necessary in a time when access to bathhouses and other shared therapeutic spaces are limited.

1. Start by drybrushing your full body. Make sure to always direct your strokes towards the heart and spend extra time in areas where lymph nodes are concentrated. See here for a more detailed description of our preferred ritual. Dry brushing stimulates your lymph system, clears stagnant skin and break up, and wakes up your entire body.

2. Run a cold shower. If you need to ease your way in, start with your feet. Your feet have lots of nerve endings, and this will help stimulate your nervous system right away. When you're ready, bring your whole body under cold water. Cold water constricts your blood vessels, helping to increase blood flow.

3. Vigorously massage your whole body with your hands to create warmth and get your blood flowing! Focus on keeping your body and breath moving. Aim to stay under the water for at least two minutes. By the end, you should feel warm. For an extra exfoliation, lather up one of these sustainable sisal shower poofs with liquid soap and scrub up your body, again going towards the heart!

4. Towel off and apply your favorite Smoke body oil to damp skin. 

Go into your day glowing with this ancient recipe for radiance!


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5 Ways to Cultivate Creativity in Quarantine (and Beyond)

I expected the constraints, what I would not be allowed to do, what would stop or cease to be possible. What I didn’t expect was what that change would make possible, that when we remove or shift elements of our lives, there is necessarily new space.

When I walk outside or talk with friends, there is grief and loss, but there is also a swell of new life and experiences. In all its limits, quarantine can be a deeply generative space. Confined to our own homes, we have the freedom to imagine what is possible, to experiment, and create. Creativity isn’t about making you happier, fitter, or more productive, it’s about reminding yourself of what is possible. It doesn’t need to look any specific way or like anything at all.

Here are a few of my favorite practices for cultivating creativity:

1.  Journaling - This is a space where I can express myself without the pressure of having my writing be for or about anything but me. Journaling gets the creative juices flowing, and helps us process our subconscious and conscious thoughts. I follow the Artist's Way practice of free-writing 3 pages first thing in the morning, but If a blank page feels intimidating, I love Ev'Yan Whitney's sensuality workbooks and Alex Elle's journals with focuses like meditation, gratitude, and self-care.

2.  Make a wildflower bouquet - Foraging flowers reconnects me to nature, my senses, and the abundance of the world around me. There is no wrong way, just an instinctual pull to the colors, smells, and textures that move me. See our Instagram for ample evidence

3. Make a playlist - Sometimes I pick a place, feeling, or memory to evoke. Other times I approach playlists as a gift I can send to someone I love or just as a collection of rhythms that make me want to move my body. Here’s one I made for my breath work class last year that I’ve been revisiting lately.

4. Read some poetry - Poetry always reconnects me to a more imaginative, sometimes more powerful way of sensing the world around me. As a shorter form, it’s also a great way to remind myself of the pleasures of reading without worrying if I can commit to a whole book right now. Try anything by Audre Lorde, Mary Oliver, or Rupi Kaur.

5. Start a project that feels a little silly - Follow through with a wild and fleeting idea to make something that doesn’t serve a specific purpose. Write a song, bake cookies, recreate a craft you loved making as a child. I've been reflecting on practices my younger self enjoyed, and giving into those. Even listening to influential albums from my past has helped to jostle my creativity in new ways! 

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