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Relaxation, Rhythm, and Ritual during the time of Uncertainty

As a doula I am often speaking with my clients about the importance of the Three Rs in Labor.  The terms coined by Penny Simkin refer to Relaxation, Rhythm, and Ritual as the essences of coping in labor in place of Fear, Tension, and Pain.  As our society is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have found myself turning to these techniques in my own life as a way to cope during this time of uncertainty.  I wanted to share these thoughts in hopes that like with birth, we can embrace the uncertainty one day/contraction at a time until the birth of healing arrives for our nation.

Uncertainty can make even the calmest person feel some stress.  The key to relaxation is understanding what is and isn’t in your control.  The simplest thing you have control over is your body and mind.  Check in with yourself.  Are you feeling tense in your body?  Are your thoughts racing?  Take time to acknowledge these feelings and move toward a more positive place.  Two minutes of deep breathing, a long shower, or doing an enjoyable activity can all be helpful.
Support of loved ones also helps to ease tensions.  Make time to connect with these people.  A good conversation, a great laugh, and even sometimes the time to cry all offer a good oxytocin release.  Be honest, loving, and kind with each other.   
When times are uncertain, developing a rhythm can be comforting.  Plan out some goals for the day. Being able to look to this list throughout the day can keep you focused and not drift into worry.  Include that time for self-care.  Activities like daily chores offer a distraction and help move the day forward.   Take time to read that book, try a new recipe, indulge in that nap, or watch that film.  For many of us, time is what we now have of an abundance.

Develop a routine.  Every day doesn’t have to be the same, but predictability can help in uncertain times.  Children thrive when a routine is present.  Adults in our own way are the same.  Focus on the basics and add more as you are willing and able.  You will find the times passing faster when you know what is coming and have a plan.

Be flexible.  If one form of relaxation isn’t working, try something different.  Many options are still open to you if you look for them.  Hang in there.  Tomorrow, next week, and next month will all be different from today.  Just take it one day at a time.

Leah Garner
Doula, Wife, Mother, and Friend


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