“Slow breathing is like an anchor in the midst of an emotional storm: the anchor won’t make the storm go away, but it will hold you steady until it passes.” – Russ Harris
For many of us, the uncertainty surrounding our current environment is extremely difficult to navigate at the moment. We don’t know how exactly we’ll be impacted or how crazy things might get. And that makes it all too easy for us to spiral into the depths of overwhelm and anxiety. There are, however,  many things we can do—even in the face of this current cosmic, collective and individual crisis—to manage our anxieties and fears with a bit more ease and grace. Here are some questions I am often asked:

 

Q: “How can I keep myself informed without feeling totally weighed down by everything that’s happening right now?

A: It’s important to stay informed, particularly about what’s happening in our own community’s — and it’s important to refrain from obsessively checking social media and the news. There’s a lot of vital information out there and, unfortunately, many of us get sucked into endlessly searching the internet for answers, and this only feeds into and fuels our fear and anxiety. As long as we’re focusing on questions with unknowable answers and circumstances outside of our personal control, this will get us nowhere—aside from feeling drained, anxious, and overwhelmed. So, it’s imperative that we become mindful of the information we are seeking out, what we are allowing into our sphere of awareness, and instead focus on making sure we are taking care extra special care of ourselves in the process.

Q: “How do I stay in control when everything around me feels like it’s spinning out of control?

A: We’re in a time of mass upheaval. There are so many things going on outside of our control. Letting go of our desire for certainty and control is much easier said than done. And, it’s 100% necessary for our emotional well-being.  If you feel yourself start to spin out into negativity or panic, grounding yourself in the present moment can stop the negative spiral and allow your rational brain to come back online. You may not be able to gain control of what’s happening “out there”, but you CAN gain some control of what’s happening “in here”.
For starters, BREATHE deeply. Bring your attention to your breath and your body. Focus all of your attention on the here and now: noticing the sights, sounds, and smells around you and what you’re feeling in your body. Continue to breathe slowly in and out—gently bringing your mind back to your body and breath every time it drifts off—until you feel more calm.

Q: “How do I manage self care during such a stressful and chaotic time?

A: This is an extraordinarily trying time, and ALL the usual stress management tools apply here as well.  Be sure you are eating healthy meals, getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated and meditating/praying. Beyond that, here are a few tips for practicing self-care in the face of the unique disruptions happening in our world today.
Be kind to yourself when you seem to be experiencing more depression or anxiety than usual. Know that you are not alone in your struggles. Go easy on yourself. Allow yourself to rest. Do things that bring you peace; journal, take hot baths (or cool showers), focus on the things you have and are grateful for (the roof over your head, a full tummy, a pillow to rest your head, your loved ones, your health, time to deepen your connection with nature, yourself and others).
Find ways to move your body. Staying active will help you release anxiety, relieve stress, and manage your mood. Take walks. Get out in nature. Sit on your floor and stretch it out. Try some yoga. Just move your body. It works. Trust me. When stress and anxiety throw your nervous system out of wack, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can circle you back into alignment. Regular practice gives you the most benefits, so see if you can set aside a little time every day. For you.
Help others. During times like these, it’s easy to get caught up in our own fears and concerns. And, it’s also really important to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember that we’re truly all in this together. Helping others not only makes a difference in their life (and the world as a whole),  it can also support your own mental health and well-being. We all know how great it feels to see how happy it makes others when we give a compliment, open a door, provide emotional support, acknowledge their inner beauty or strength and help out with unpacking the groceries.
Take it one step at a time. One day at a time. One minute at a time. One breath at a time. Try not to let the pain of the past (or present) make you feel defeated. Just because yesterday was painful doesn’t mean today has to be. The darkest times are often new doors opening up for us in disguise. Give yourself time to process, to heal, to grow, to feel all the feels, to fall apart, to pick yourself back up. Be easy with yourself. You are allowed to be wherever you need to be right now. And remember that beautiful new beginnings come from what we thought might be the end. 🌸💫
Calming Your Emotions During Difficult Times