While “stay safe/healthy” has become a common sign off in the age of coronavirus, we need to nurture our ability to stay sane, too. The situation is constantly changing and evolving, and this is a ripe environment for anxiety to thrive. It may start to affect our sleep, our appetite, which undermines our resilience and coping mechanisms. It’s so important to have some anxiety-busting coping strategies at your fingertips, whether you have one minute or can gift yourself a full hour or even [insert however long lockdown may last for].
5 Deep Breaths
This will take you less than a minute, or 3 minutes – whatever you have. When you feel that sense of catastrophe engulfing you like being submerged in water, it’s truly important to press an immediate pause and breathe yourself out of panic. Breathe in slowly through your nose, counting to 5, hold your breath for a momentary pause, and then breathe out through your mouth for 6 or 7. Even 5 of these slow conscious breaths, elongating your out breath, will reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and catch a downward spiral of anxiety in its tracks.
Five minutes is absolutely plenty for a micro-meditation. I find the MBCT 3-minute breathing space meditation is just the ticket. I’ve linked to Mark Williams’s audio because I personally find his voice super soothing, but there are many available, or you could even just press a calming timer on your phone to down tools, ground your feet and breathe for 3 minutes.
If you want to immerse for slightly longer, theSounds and Thoughts meditation (again, I’ve linked to Mark Williams’s voice here), is a wonderful one for a pause in thought. If you can download the Nourish App – a wonderfully supportive wellbeing app for mums – you’ll find a sounds and thoughts mediation from me. It’s one of my faves and definitely helps to catch a whirring brain.
Any form of pause will really help your psychological, emotional wellbeing. As it’s spring, and ironically the relentlessly wet and grey winter in the UK seems to have been replaced by almost uninterrupted beautiful sunshine while a lot of us are now fully inside and can’t make the most of it (we live in a flat in London with no garden, so this one is particularly pertinent for me right now): see if you can notice and savour some element of springtime, say a seedling coming up, savour the moment, and momentarily let everything else release. Just be with the physical and emotional experience of looking at some leaves moving softly in the breeze, listening to a bird, watching a cloud – take advantage of the fact that these sounds are heightened as the air is no longer filled with the sound and sight of air travel. It takes just 20 seconds for a positive experience to be registered in your brain. Stop and feel the air on your skin, be fully present with your senses helps to calm down any anxiety.
I’ve taken to writing a line each evening before bed. Just one line, summarising one good memorable thing about the day, celebrating small wins, anchoring wonderful tiny minutiae which otherwise might be forgotten, like my littlest wanting a “nose hug”. Write down three things that you’re grateful for, even the smallest tiniest thing. It makes you feel safe and protected, which will help you sleep.
Sending love xxx
Capturing the mindful moments