Right now you might be feeling anxious, restless and scared. The coronavirus pandemic is so surreal and shocking. You also might be angry with yourself because you can’t seem to get it together. Even though there are moments of competence and confidence, you may sometimes feel like you’re falling apart.
Fear and pain are inevitable human experiences and thankfully you can cultivate a sense of calm and safety even during such terrifying times. Here are some simple suggestions and short ideas to incorporate throughout your day to help you remain calm:
This simple breathing technique “calms down our parasympathetic nervous system, this involves inhaling for three counts and then lengthening your exhale to six counts.
The sound of hum stimulates the vagus nerve, which “sends a message to your brain—from your body—to calm down, relax”. Inhaling through your nose and then, on the exhale, making the sound of “hummmm” with your lips slightly closed. Do this practice three times in a row to immediately experience the calming effects
Left Nostril Breathing
This is another relaxing breathing technique. Sit up tall and make sure your chin is parallel to the floor. Use your right thumb to close off your right nostril. Slowly inhale through your left nostril for three counts and exhale from the same nostril for four counts. Do this for 30 to 60 seconds.
Your Five Senses
Our physical senses are an incredible gift, because they have the power to connect us with the present moment,” and connecting to the present prevents us from panicking about the future. Exploring these questions:
- What do I see? “Notice shapes, colours, and movement, around you. Let your eye linger on what’s pleasurable.”
- What do I hear? “Allow all the layers of background sound to rise into your consciousness.”
- What do I taste? Focus on the different flavours and textures in your mouth.
- What do I feel? You might feel everything from the soft fabric you’re wearing to the cool temperature of your room to the cold floor beneath your feet.
- What do I smell? Experience this sense with curiosity—whether you pick up a pleasant or unpleasant scent.
Legs Up the Wall
This yoga-inspired pose helps to circulate your blood, giving some of your lower extremities a natural way to receive energy. This is important because poor circulation can lead to fatigue, tension, muscle aches, and high levels of stress. To start, put on calming music and light a candle. Place a soft rug, yoga mat or blanket by a wall. Take off your shoes and lie down with your legs elevated. Start by inhaling through your nose—inflating your stomach—on the count of three. Exhale—bringing your navel toward your spine—for a count of four.
What is your posture right now? Hunching over can trigger a fear response and shortness of breath, however, sitting upright gives our lungs the space to breathe properly. So, do a quick posture check-in throughout the day and adjust accordingly.
Doing light, simple stretches communicates to your body that all is well and you are choosing to tune into the moment —where anxiety and fear cannot co-exist. Try these two stretches: Reach your arms above your head, interlace your hands, and stretch side to side; place your ear toward your shoulder to stretch each side of your neck.
We are all currently grieving the loss of normalcy and working to recalibrate while having so much uncertainty about the future. Let yourself feel the range of your feelings—and know that you also can access calm within when you need it most.