It’s a pandemic and you’re a stress ball. Here are 5 ways to catch your breath and calm down.
Experiencing stress, fear, and anxiety are a part of being human. These emotions are reactions from the body and spirit to outside stimuli, and, despite their negative connotation, when experienced as intended, they can actually support your wellbeing.
Fear, for example, can help protect you from a real physical threat. Stress, in small amounts, has been shown to actually help you be more productive. That said, when these functions go into overdrive, there can be negative consequences on your mind, body, and spirit.
To prevent such negative impact, as you experience fear and uncertainty you might find it helpful to remind yourself that, while the external world is outside of your control, you can work to cultivate a sense of immovable inner calm. Creating a relationship with your own unshakable sense of inner peace requires the deep work of tuning in to your internal guidance and true Self.
While following stay-at-home guidelines, we have an opportunity to truly go inward and do that work. Admittedly, it can feel quite uncomfortable to be home with yourself in the presence of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety—which is totally normal. You could choose to distract yourself from or become numb to these emotions, but that practice would actually give those feelings energy and amplify them.
Instead, consider using this time at home to focus on cultivating an inner world that will help you approach all challenges from a place of grounded peace and acceptance. While it may feel a bit daunting, there is truth to the saying “The only way out is in.” If you are ready to become free of the fears and anxieties that have been weighing you down, use this beautiful opportunity to foster a new relationship with yourself that just might change the course of your entire life.
Here are five ways to begin the journey inward.
Connect with your breath. Breath is one of the most effective ways to begin to control how you react to outside stimulus. Becoming connected to your breath can help you activate a state of calm even amid the most intense circumstances. In Kundalini yoga, it is believed that if you are able to control your breath, you can also learn to control your mind.
Begin with this simple breathing exercise:
- Start seated in easy pose with your hands resting in your lap.
- Close your eyes.
- Inhale deeply for 10 seconds.
- Hold your breath at the top for 10 seconds.
- Exhale for 10 seconds.
If 10 seconds is too long for you, you can try this exercise by starting at 5 seconds. The full expression of this breathing exercise is 20 seconds in each position. Repeat this breathing pattern for up to 20 minutes.
Connect with your body. Your body holds important messages from your subconscious and your nervous system. Taking some dedicated time to connect with your body can help you understand where you are holding onto stress and anxiety, and how to release it. It might also give you insight into how to identify and come to terms with the true root of these emotions. To start connecting with your body, you could try a simple body scan exercise:
- Lie down in a comfortable setting.
- Begin breathing deeply: long inhales through your nose, long exhales through your mouth.
- Scan your body from head to toe, and begin to notice where you are holding onto tension. Notice if there are any areas where you feel uncomfortable in your body.
- Don’t judge these feelings, just simply let them be.
- Now envision releasing the tension from your body. Each time you exhale, allow the stress, anxiety, and fear to melt away.
Connect with peace and surrender. You cannot change the outside circumstances, but what if you were able to accept and make peace with them. No matter how turbulent your external world may feel, it is possible to cultivate feelings of peace and love within you. Fear and uncertainty do play a role in your everyday life—and, in some ways, can even be helpful. Close your eyes and tune into your feelings of fear and anxiety. Thank them for their efforts to keep you safe. Acknowledge that you are powerless to change the outer circumstances, and notice where you can cultivate peace and love despite them. Remind yourself that things are always working out for you in ways that you may not be able to imagine at this time. Accept and trust that everything is going to be okay.
Connect with source. Many people return to their spiritual roots when they face challenging times. Consider using this time of social isolation to connect with your faith, a higher power, or the bigger picture. You can do this with prayer, through spiritual texts, or by connecting with a spiritual teacher or mentor. Cultivating a connection with a power greater than yourself can help you remember the universe is designed to support you in reaching your highest potential. Initiating this connection might help you feel as though you can let go of any pressure you feel to fix things or figure things out. Offer your fears and worries to your higher power, and allow the weight of the world to be lifted from your shoulders.
Connect with your truth. All of the answers you are seeking lie within. Instead of looking to the news or social media to try to bring yourself clarity, why not take this time to nurture a deeper connection with your soul. Do this by developing a meditation practice, through prayer, or by sitting in silence and learning to listen to the subtle messages from your inner guide. All of your emotions are messages from your soul—even anxiety. Try tuning into the feelings anxiety evokes, and try to hear what they are trying to tell you. If you feel stuck or paralyzed by fear and anxiety, sit with those feelings and ask your inner self what you are truly afraid of. What are these emotions trying to tell you? Where are they trying to guide you?
Whether you are experiencing fear and uncertainty on a personal level or on collective one, you can take solace in knowing that stress, fear, and anxiety—no matter how intense—are a natural part of being human. Another element of being human is having the gift of free will and the power to choose how you experience your life. Remember that you can choose to give energy to fearful emotions and amplify them, or you can choose to take a step back and look for the deeper lessons within.
Letting go of self-judgment when experiencing difficult emotions and instead giving your energy over to positive practices and self-care are some of the most powerful ways to shift your experience into a life of freedom, balance, and inner peace. Let your fears be your friend and trust that things are always working out for you in a way that is better than you could have even imagined.
When you choose to step back and look at the bigger picture, connect with peace and comfort from within, and listen to your inner truth, you might just find that the circumstances causing you the most stress and anxiety were actually opening the door for the deep healing, transformation, and blessings you had been praying for all along.
Want to dig deeper? Read more on dealing with COVID-19 anxiety.