The Covid Virus and economic turmoil have fanned anxiety in just about everyone. I worry about my family’s health and about my retirement which looks increasingly sketchy. There is little I can do to manage these threats. But I can manage—or try to manage—how I feel about them.
Here are some tools that have worked for me and will, I hope, work for you:
Ground Yourself. Feel the soles of your feet in contact with the floor. Picture yourself growing roots that firmly attach to the earth. Stand facing a wall and slowly push your hands against it—feel your muscles pushing. These physical practices counter your body’s flight or fight response to stress and trigger what’s known as the relaxation response. The relaxation response causes your body to release chemicals and brain signals that slow down your organs and muscles while increasing blood flow to your brain. When your body notices tissues stretching and elongating, the relaxation response is generated.
Meter Your Breaths. Taking your breaths in a pattern described as “box breathing” or “square breathing” is popular with individuals ranging from yogis to Navy SEALs who seek to calm their minds. It breaks each breath into segments done to a count of four:
Inhale: silently count 2, 3, 4
Hold In: silently count 2, 3, 4
Exhale: silently count 2, 3, 4
Hold Out: silently count 2, 3, 4
You can also use these techniques to build your courage, a quality that underlies confidence and helps manage day to day challenges.