4 Simple Steps to Stay Centered in a Pandemic
This is the first in a series of blogs that I will be offering on how to best nourish ourselves and each other during the spread of Covid-19. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like me to address specific issues around this pandemic, ranging from self-care to the power of staying informed.
You’d think that the seasonal shift into spring would bring a bit of relief and the anticipation of much-needed spring cleaning and warm weather plans.
Sadly, nature seems to have something different in store for us. As the novel Coronavirus takes its toll on our minds, bodies, and economy, I’m witnessing a new level of alarm with respect to our overall health and future.
Believe me, I get it. After all, the Seattle area where I live is the “epicenter” of the outbreak. Thankfully, I’ve been in creative mode, which means I’ve been spending a lot of time close to home, and this entire situation has given me plenty of time to think more deeply about the way this is affecting us all.
I’m not here to gloss over the very real public health scare that has crept up among us. At the same time, I firmly believe that taking care of ourselves is about so much more than washing our hands multiple times or finding more ways to work from home. What I’m recognizing is the importance of paying attention not just to our physical health but to our souls and spirits.
Anxiety seems to be par for the course these days, and this virus is not making the situation any better. Not long ago, I walked into the doctor’s office with one of my kids, who’s been experiencing high levels of anxiety. I witnessed at least 50 people in the waiting room. I’d never seen anything like it before.
In times like these, we must always use simple but actionable tools for dealing with stress, anxiety, and mental overload close to our hearts. I strongly believe that catch-all labels like anxiety, while they can be helpful in allowing us to manage our symptoms, can also lead to a sense of overwhelm and powerlessness.
I don’t want you to feel that way! Now more than ever, it’s vital to come back to your power!
Here’s four simple steps for dealing with these trying times:
1. Ask yourself: “Where am I feeling this anxiety/panic/stress in my body?” A lot of times when we spiral into intense states like anxiety, we disassociate from our bodies. But it’s only when we reconnect that we find a sense of agency and calm. So notice where in your body that feeling lives—maybe it’s a tightness in your chest or a churning sensation in your stomach. Put your hand on that area and breathe three deep, long breaths for at least five counts. Notice how you feel.
2. Question where the feeling comes from and whether it’s warranted. Anxiety stems from the fears we hold, but often, this fear can worsen when we find ourselves spinning out in worst-case scenarios. Although these scenarios may seem real to us, when we examine closely, we might recognize that they’re not.
3. Trust yourself and surrender to the moment. I know this might sound tough, but hear me out. You can’t possibly come up with any viable solutions until you’re in a state of calm. The best way to get there is to give yourself compassion and a reminder that you have already powered through so much. You are safe in this moment, and you’ve made it this far. Put your hand on your heart and say this silent affirmation: “I trust myself, and this too shall pass.”
4. Take one simple action now to alleviate anxiety. You don’t have to come up with a huge solution, but note one thing you could do that might take anxiety that’s at a level 10 down to a level 4. What do you love? What brings you peace? What helps you settle back into yourself? Whatever you come up with, don’t wait—do it now! I know that for me, setting my environment by ensuring that it is tranquil and beautiful really works to soothe my nerves. This includes anything from putting on soft, peaceful music to having beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers on my table to opening the windows and letting in fresh air. When you’re in a calm and tranquil state, you are also in a better position to create your own customized “toolbox” for getting through the tough moments. (I promise I’ll have an upcoming blog about this soon!)
If you’re sitting here and reading this now, I want to share with you—from my heart to yours—that you’re doing great. I believe in you. No matter what is happening, never forget that you are a rockstar. So please commit to doing something nourishing and compassionate for yourself. It might not always feel like it, but you’ve got this!!!