If you’re experiencing a lot of stress, anxiety, and fear from dealing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), you’re not alone.
It’s easy to freak out and get overwhelmed. I’m right there with you.
The toll this is taking on everyone’s psychological health and well-being is immense. The endless unknowns and rising state of fear make it very easy to contract into anxiety and panic.
To help you handle the coronavirus stress I offer you this short practice.
I don’t want to deny your anger or downplay the severity of the situation, but I do want to empower you to take back what is rightfully yours–your sanity and peace of mind.
Try this practice at home as a way to turn down the volume on your stress and boost your wellbeing. Being resilient and ready for whatever is next is the best medicine I can offer.
This practice will show you how to:
- Let go of the stress and anxiety about coronavirus.
- Reconnect to your calm and relaxed presence.
- Use your imagination to become bigger than your circumstances.
- Become a source and channel for love and compassion.
- Recognize the shared struggle we all face.
- Commit to taking care of your body and mind, for yourself and for everyone around you.
Coronavirus 6 -Part Stress Relief Practice
Step 1: Release Anxiety & Tension
- Identify where in your body you’re experiencing tension. Notice where your stress is living in your body right now.
- Gather all that stress into a small energetic ball and then pull it off of you and throw it on the floor.
- Continue to wipe, brush, and wiggle all the stress off your body until you feel refreshed.
Step 2: Connect to Your Body & Breath
- Ground your feet into the floor and lengthen your spine.
- Start taking a deep breath in, pulling the air through your lower body into your belly.
- Use your arms to mimic the movement of your breath up into your torso. Let the in-breath bring clean, pure, rejuvenating energy into your body.
- At the top of the breath, slowly exhale and allow your arms to gently fall, allowing your body to soften and loosen as your breath moves down and out your body.
- Make your exhale slow and pleasant. Imagine all your remaining anxiety and stress releasing as you give your body permission to relax.
- Hold your breath out for 3-5 seconds at the end of the exhale before starting another round of breathing.
Step 3: Cultivate Your Creative Imagination
- Close your eyes if you’re comfortable and begin to visualize a place that brings you comfort. Maybe a beach, forest, lake, or anywhere that makes you feel safe and peaceful.
- Take a moment to juice your creative powers by letting yourself feel as if you are actually standing there in this beautiful scenery.
- Imagine the sights, sounds, smells, temperature, and taste of the experience. Make it rich.
- Allow yourself to absorb the pleasant surrounding and delight in the opportunity to savor this moment.
Step 4: Generate & Channel Your Love
- Continue using your imagination to call to mind someone you love and who loves you back.
- Picture this person at their best, full of joy, happiness, and health.
- Notice the sweet and warm emotions that arise when you think of this person and how much you care and love exists between you.
- Place your hands on your heart and start breathing this heartfelt energy into your chest.
- Imagine a red glowing ball of energy emanating from your heart, growing larger with each breath.
- Feel your body act as a channel for this love and kindness to pulse through you as you breathe.
Step 5: Offer Your Goodness To The World
- As a beacon of loving energy, begin to send it out to everyone and anyone who might need a little encouragement or support.
- As you breathe-in, grow your love and compassion for yourself.
- As you breathe-out, offer what you can to the world.
- Recognize the preciousness of life in general and the fragility of our human species.
- Breathe love from this place of deep interconnectedness and interdependence.
Step 6: Commit To Yourself
Open your eyes if they were closed and then repeat these phrases out loud to yourself:
- “I commit to practicing intentional self-care in these times of coronavirus stress.”
- “I forgive myself for being afraid, anxious, and upset.”
- “I take responsibility for caring for my body, emotions, and mind, because in taking care of myself, I also take care of others.”
- I commit to staying connected to my heart and grounded in my love, no matter how upset, stressed, and frustrated I may be.”
- (Add in any other statements that feel true and important for you.)
Searching For Hope Within The Fear
Within this stressful situation there lies opportunity. It may be hard to see the silver lining as normal life comes crashing down. But there is hope for good in all this.
For some, the months ahead may be an opportunity to:
- Slow down.
- Spend time with those you care about.
- Get more sleep.
- Not have to sit in traffic or endure a lengthy commute.
- Learn how to spend time at home and savor the simple things in life.
- Give birth to a new way of thinking about what we are all here doing with the precious time we have.
For some, such opportunities seem irrelevant compared to coronavirus stress and the hardships that include:
- Loss of income or work.
- The stress of family intimacy in close quarters.
- Loss of savings.
- Physical pain and sickness.
- And much more
A Chance For Collective Growth
Regardless of how this is affecting you personally, it is a chance for all of us to look deeply at how we are living our lives. It forces us to examine our:
- Attachment to interdependent systems.
- Our addiction to security.
- Our need for control and stability.
- Our anxiety with the unknown.
- Our disconnection from nature.
- Our ignorance of how deeply we are connected to each other.
Underneath the fear is an opportunity to come back to our basic humanity and goodness, to offer support and compassion for everyone struggling to get by, and to help usher in a new vision of living healthfully in a fully connected and integrated planet.
It All Begins With Courage
We all must first evaluate and honor how we feel and who are in relation to the current situation. Knowing where we stand is the first step in taking care of ourselves and a prerequisite for dealing with the wider situation.
Take a moment to process and digest your emotional state. It is just as important for your wellbeing as taking physical precautions.
When you have the courage to recognize and accept what is true for you, you can begin pulling yourself out of fear, anger, and blame. You can shift your focus from fear of the unknown to gratitude for what is here right now.
This is not to say you shouldn’t be upset or angry. Nor is it letting people off the hook for irresponsible behavior.
It is simply choosing to move beyond the anxiety and tendency to withdraw.
Staying stuck in a victim mindset only disempowers you and further diminishes your health.
To borrow the words of teacher Thomas Hübl, we need each other more than ever.
“Although it may often seem we can solve everything alone, now we see that we really need each other and that we depend on each other. The hyper-individualized arrogance must soften into outreach and a way of being more humble and engaged.”Thomas Hubl, Spiritual teacher
Our capacity to stand in the middle of this complex, ambiguous, and fearful situation challenges us to sit with not knowing.
And it’s hard.
Every time you feel the coronavirus stress weighing you down, practice grounding in your body, being with your experience, feeling all that arises inside, and then asking your heart how to respond.
Your head may get lost in coronavirus stress, but your heart will point you towards what matters most.
This coronavirus stress may disrupt our social systems and everyday routines, but it will not disrupt our heart’s capacity to love. If there’s anything we can hang onto in these times of uncertainty, it is our unshakable capacity to care.Jeff Siegel
I’m Jeff Siegel, a wellness coach and mindfulness teacher, helping people take care of themselves when no one else will.
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Additional Resources To Support Your Wellbeing
Four Ways to Help Each Other During the Coronavirus Outbreak – Greater Good
Coping With Coronavirus Anxiety – Harvard Health
Feeling Anxiety About Coronavirus? A Psychologist Offers Tips to Stay Clearheaded – University of California San Francisco