Transition Medicine

For about a month I’ve been trying to write about the quiet, often sudden dissolution of certainty many of us have defined our lives with. It’s been difficult to find words to encapsulate it all, especially since every day adds some new horror. It feels like everything is rushing forward at the speed of light and also stagnant and stale. Things can be both, I suppose, though it’s a difficult reality to comprehend.

But like a body fighting a great illness, the best things we can do is nurture ourselves and our communities to build the resiliency we need to weather this time. We would benefit from recognizing that our energy is limited and asking ourselves how we should spend the precious amount of life given to us. Should we spend it fighting with our neighbors on the internet? Or should we spend it walking in the woods? Or walking with our neighbors?

1) We won’t survive anything as a fragmented society. If you can visit with friends by talking through an open window or sitting in a field together, try to fit some of that into your week. Seeing people face-to-face reminds us that we are part of something bigger. We are, despite all our fancy trimmings, just animals who need to be in a social group. Love is the greatest healer and the most revolutionary act.

2) For those of us experiencing heightened anxiety, grief, and depression, rhythm is also a great healer. Having a daily, weekly, and seasonal pattern teaches our bodies and minds what to expect and, in a mercurial world, this is a powerful anchor. Eating, exercising, and sleeping at the same times each day also helps us function with more clarity because we’re not leaping from task to task groggy or wired or restless or peckish.

3) Give your body all the resources it needs like you were tending to a child or a rather complicated houseplant. Stay hydrated, eat a wide variety of foods (including fermented ones), sleep 6-8 hours a day, take at least a half hour walk a day. It seems silly to worry about such simple stuff sometimes but taking care of our bodies makes other, more difficult things seem surmountable.

4) Get your tuchus out into the natural world, or if you can’t do that, buy a houseplant or linger near a tree. When I lived in Manhattan I would stop to look at people’s window boxes or say hello to a weed growing out of a sidewalk. Each small interaction connected me with something larger and more powerful than myself. Eat lunch outside or step into the fresh air for five minutes. You don’t need to summit Mount Katahdin to shift your perspective.

5) Tend to your immune system with tonic herbs like reishi, astragalus, elderberry, and tulsi (there are many more but these are some favorites). Limit sugar, alcohol, drugs, and artificial foods. Sneak bone broths and other nutrient-dense soups into your day. We’re under increased stress these days and that can directly hamper our immunity.

Treat yourself and your community with love and respect. Our world and our bodies can heal, so eat up. There’s work to do.

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