Whether you are a generally anxious person or not, many of us are experiencing varying degrees of unrest during this time of uncertainty and disruption. While there is no management tool that will ease these feelings for everyone, there are ways to calm and quiet your mind that will provide you with peace. Try one or all of these. Some only require a few minutes of your time but may carry big benefits for you and your family.

 

​Deep Breathing Exercises

Taking shallow breaths can affect your energy levels and worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Taking deep purposeful breaths is an easy quick way to slow racing thoughts and to feel a little bit better overall.

Start by getting comfortable either in a chair or lying down. Put a pillow under your head and knees for extra comfort. Smell the flowers and blow out the candles. 

  1. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest, breathe in through your nose (smelling the flowers), silently counting to 5 while imagining filling your entire abdomen with air. The hand on your belly should be moving more than the one on your chest.
  2. Breathe out with pursed lips also for a count of 5 (blow out the candles)
  3. Try to focus only on your breathing, the sound and the sensations you feel as the air goes in and out of your body.

For more great breathing exercises check out this great article:
https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise#alternate-nostril-breathing
My kids use these techniques:
https://www.cosmickids.com/five-fun-breathing-practices-for-kids/

Meditation

Elevate your deep breathing exercises by meditating. Meditation is all about training your attention and awareness, connecting with the moment and your sensations. There is no right or wrong way of meditating. It may take some trial and error before you find what’s best for you.

  1. For this meditation exercise, start by setting a timer for 5 min. You can increase the time as you become comfortable with the practice. 
  2. Lay down or sit comfortably as you would during your deep breathing exercises.
  3. Focus on the breath moving in and out of your nostrils, or on the rise and fall of your belly. When you notice your mind wandering, bring it gently back to the breath. 
  4. Be in the moment with your senses. What does your head feel like on your pillow, what sounds are you hearing- cars driving by, birds, the fan in the room?
  5. Focus on relaxing your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, releasing all the tension in your muscles.
  6. For these 5 minutes, you’re in this moment in time.

For children, guided imagery helps. My seven year old likes to imagine that she’s on the beach, imagining the warm sun and sand on her body.

For other meditation techniques and mindfulness exercises go to https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/

Go for a walk, run or bike ride

Release those feel-good endorphins by getting outside. Go for a walk or bike ride. The change of scenery might also help to reframe what is stressing you out.

Immerse yourself in a creative outlet

Now is the time to dive into that creative project you’ve been putting off. Take that online class, teach yourself to sew. There is no time like now to create something beautiful.  

Open your mind to new learning opportunities

During this pandemic, many businesses have shared free remote learning opportunities. “Psychology and the Good Life,” a course first introduced by Yale Professor Laurie Santos in spring 2018, teaches stressed-out students how to be happier. The university said it quickly became the most popular course in the school’s 317-year history. Given its success, Yale decided to release the course online with the title, “The Science of Well Being.” It features lectures by Santos “on things people think will make them happy but don’t — and, more importantly, things that do bring lasting life satisfaction.”

Express your feelings

Write your stress away in a journal or write a letter to your future self or your kids. 

Reduce depression and anxiety symptoms by eating foods that will cause feel-good chemical reactions

Free-radicals can be harmful to your cells and anxiety is thought to be correlated with a lowered total antioxidant state. Antioxidants play a role in slowing, even preventing that damage. Berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries), green leafy veggies like kale, spinach and arugula, beets, red cabbage, artichokes, pecans, red cabbage, and beans are all foods high in antioxidants.

Foods high in folic acid as folate is a mind and mood boosting B vitamin- asparagus legumes, eggs, citrus, brussel sprouts, broccoli, bananas, wheat germ, avocado, nuts and seeds

Foods high in B6 which is necessary for vital functions throughout your body. These functions include reducing stress as well as maintaining overall health. Find B6 in salmon, tuna, eggs, chicken liver, beets, carrots, spinach, sweet potato, green peas, banana, chickpeas and breakfast cereals.

Foods high in the amino acid tryptophan are essential to the production of serotonin which helps regulate sleep and mood. Tryptophan is often found in meats like turkey and salmon (also a great source of omega-3 which are vital to your health and well-being) but dark green leafy vegetables and nuts are also a great source of Tryptophan.

Declutter your home, declutter your mind

It’s an idea that was tattooed in my brain by my mom at an early age. Whenever I’m feeling disorganized or out of control, I pick a drawer, a closet, or some small area of my house and I clean and organize it. It gives me a sense of order amidst chaos and a feeling that I was able to accomplish something no matter how small.

Above all, give yourself a break

​This is uncharted waters and we weren’t expecting to be here. Giving the kids your ipad for a few hours while you hide in the closet and eat the last ice cream sandwich won’t hurt anyone. It’s all about balance. 

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