Times are interesting and ever changing. It is easy to accumulate worry and anxiety as we navigate these uncharted territories. You may be wondering yourself how to keep the calm amid COVID-19.
Below we compiled various ways to help reduce the fear, fret, and anxious feelings. It is normal and OK to have these, but we don’t want them to consume you. Some are immediate things you can do and others daily things to add into your life.
Like we tell those preparing for birth in our childbirth education classes you always have your breath. So lets use it! There are various techniques you can use to help calm you.
A favorite is Box Breathing. The simple breakdown of box breathing is as follows:
-Focus on your breath.
- Exhale emptying your lungs.
- Then breathe in through your nose long and slow for the count of 4. 1, 2, 3….4.
- Then exhale through your mouth for that same long, slow count of 4. 1, 2, 3, ….4.
- Pause here and count to 4 before inhaling again.
Breathe with a relaxed body.
We always come back to slow deep breaths. These carry people through a labor as well as through anxious times. Simply find yourself in a comfortable position sitting upright with your shoulders relaxed and do slow deep breaths breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Check out some more tips here.
Pranayama breathing in yoga practice is a great way to quiet the mind and bring focus to our breath. To practice it you may want to lay down flat on your back. Now begin to focus on your breathing as your belly raises then falls. Drown out other thoughts with the focus of what your breath is doing. Then take a deep breath in through your nose filling your lungs. On the exhale breathe out like you are fogging a mirror. Continue in this fashion.
Moment by moment
We are in a place where uncertainty lies ahead and all we can really know or control is this exact moment. This is one of our most used doula phrases and it couldn’t be more appropriate for handling the onslaught of information and changes happening.
All we can do is take things one. moment. at. a. time. If you find yourself getting ahead of yourself, pause. What is happening in this very moment? Does anything actually need to be done, or decided? Pause and do some of the other techniques here.
Always come back to the present moment.
For everyone’s mental health taking time to jot down feelings and thoughts is always recommended. There are no rules. Just write! Perhaps keep a journal next to your bed and upon waking take 15 minutes to right down whatever comes to your mind. Yes you can pause to get that morning pee out, then come back at it. Sometimes we just need to process and get it out!
Some may find this word intimidating but it can be really simple. Some of the breathing exercises mentioned above can be your meditation practice. A whole yoga session can be a meditation practice. It can last for seconds or minutes and you can gradually increase the time spent doing it. If you find yourself in an anxious state often it may not hurt to add this into your daily life routine. For more meditation guidance check out this resource.
Visualizations can be a source of meditation. Craft a story. It doesn’t have to be long. We tell our pregnant clients to come up with one that lasts about 30 seconds to a minute as that’s the length of contractions at time. Feel stumped on where to begin? Simply think of something you do on an average basis. For example I am a runner. So my story may look like this:
I reach down to grab my running shoes and slide them on. I lace the left shoe. I lace the right shoe. Look! Penny is wagging ready to go. I hook her leash on her collar and grab her poopy bags. We head out the front door. I hit run on my Garmin. I pick up my knees and begin my run……..
Wherever your story takes you can follow it then repeat it.
Take a moment to accept your feelings
Feelings of worry and nervousness are valid feelings. Take a moment to acknowledge you feel them. Pretending they aren’t there and shoving them down will not serve you. Once you are aware of your feelings you can then decide how to next take action. What can bring some calm and some peace? Perhaps start with something mentioned in this blog.
Physical activity is believed to enhance moods as it can increase endorphins. Most people report feeling better overall when they exercise regularly. Bad news is currently most gyms are closed for social isolation reasons. So its time to get creative at home if you do not have a home gym. Many gyms and yoga studios are now offering live classes!
Create your own workout! A simple 15 minute circuit could look as follows if your body is up for it!
-Spend 1 minute of doing each of these then repeat 5 times: (modifications for your own body always welcome)
- Hold a plank
- Lunge with left leg forward
- Lunge with right leg forward
If you have some funds to spend there are some apps and online programs available too. We recommend the MUTU system for moms looking for gentle and effective workouts. It builds your pelvic floor strength!
No matter what level of stress you may be feeling these can help. If you feel your stress and anxiety rise, especially in these times thinking about COVID-19, pause and reference this for ideas on what action to take! Deep breaths and we can all get through this!
Authored by: Andrea Stainbrook