The power of pausing. I realize that everyone right now finds themselves on an emotional roller coaster that they would rather not be on. Some of us are better at coping with major shifts in our world than others. When I found my body actively responding to stress recently (light headedness listening to the news, a rosacea flare up that lasted several days, stomach cramps, constant worrying thoughts...), I decided that I needed to pause, take a deep breath and respond in a healthier way to what was happening around me. I used small steps to ease my anxiety. Even though they were small steps, they’ve helped me calm down, step back and allow myself to be in a place that feels more reassuring. I'm hoping the same steps may help ease your anxiety as well:
- Don't reach for your phone first thing in the morning, especially while still in bed. You don't need to begin each day by reading some news that will have you not wanting to leave your bed...ever again.
- Get up, drink some water and find a comfortable place to sit and ease into your day. Here's the most important part: begin your day by meditating for 10-15 minutes. I know, I know you've probably heard it a thousand time but if there was ever a time in your life that you need to meditate it's now. If my 88 year old father can learn to meditate, so can you. If you haven't tried it before please don't feel intimidated or decide it's not for you without even trying. I'm a big fan of Headspace because it's helped me in the past. They've just released a free app download for your phone or computer called "Weathering the Storm" to help with stress and sleep. They’re also providing a free year’s subscription for healthcare workers at the moment. (the following is a link for everyone and also includes information for healthcare workers and teachers https://www.headspace.com/covid-19 ; or check out other free apps at https://www.mic.com/p/7-free-mental-health-apps-to-chill-your-body-mind-22639360). I like Headspace. I find Andi Puddicombe's voice very reassuring, and I instantly relax when I hear him speak.
- During the day if you feel like you're getting overwhelmed, go outside. Even if you can't go for a walk, go outside. Stand (or even better sit with your eyes close) and with your feet planted on the ground press firmly so that you feel stable and feel a connection to the surface beneath you. Slowly take deep breathes (in through the nose for 5 counts, hold briefly and exhale out through your mouth for up to 10 counts). Repeat several times to calm your nervous system and bring your mind back from worrying thoughts.
- Read, rather than watch news. I took a total break from TV for four days, just so that I wouldn’t be tempted to be glued to the news. Instead, I read the news online. Reading rather than watching the news allows you to feel like you’re more in control of the information you are absorbing. TV can have a way of dramatizing everything... and not in a good way.
Lastly, don't be hard on yourself or others. I know we are all craving a little normality now. This is going to be our new normal for a while, so all we can do is try to deal with this as best as we can. And we will.
p.s. please feel free to forward this to family and friends