Here is a list of mindful and embodiment practices to use when feeling acute anxiety and strong emotions. Most of these are offered from Chameli Ardagh, and the Awakening Women network. This is a unique and urgent time to practice these awareness and somatic practices.
A crack in our respective habits and routines can allow for new understandings of our anxiety, fear, faith, love and needs. It asks us to consider psychological and personal virtues such as patience, sacrifice, and radical acceptance. To find calm, at least moments of calm, in the chaos of uncertainty.
Here are some ways to practice being with anxiety and strong emotions:
:: If you find yourself lost in mental loops, instead of fighting it, or judging it (which your body will feel as an additional threat), practice to meet it as you would hold space for a toddler or a kitten who is hyper and nervous. Bring some warm mothering energy, add nourishing and soothing practices, redirect mental energy into mantra, prayers or kind self-talk, channel physical stress into movement.
:: Take conscious deep breaths. Counting to four on each inhale and exhale, as well as holding the breath for four counts at each zenith, is a quick way to calm your nervous system.
::Or try this one: Draw your breath in slowly in a controlled manner until your belly is full. When it is as full as possible, hold your breath right there. While holding your breath, recite in your mind, “I am safe. I am healthy. I am loved.” Exhale in a slow and controlled manner. Do this at least three times or until you feel better.
:: Make sure to make time for embodiment practice every day—even five minutes is supportive. You might practice soft touch like hugging or touching your arms and legs with open hands, soft stretching, yoga, dance or taking slow walks in nature. Many also find vigorous running, power walking and weight training effective ways to release energy frozen in the cycle.
:: Shaking is an efficient way to complete the cycle of fear. Daily shaking is powerful stress relief, it supports your kidneys and lymphatic system. Think of it as emotional hygiene.
:: When you feel overly worried, turn it into a practice. Each part of this practice lasts 3-5 minutes. Begin with frantically pacing back and forth, thinking about everything you worry about. Exaggerate, play a little theater. After that, shake the body and /or dance. End with holding and stroking your body gently. If you like you can whisper “I am safe, I am held, I am loved”
:: Gently stroke your hands up and down the front of your torso. It quickly soothes the vagus nerve and your nervous system.
:: Be mindful and discerning about news consumption. It is of course important to stay informed, but notice when obsessing about news becomes another way to freeze the cycle. Pause and bring your attention to your body and immediate surroundings. The beauty of your cat, and the budding flowers are just as real and important as the pandemic. Remember that we have the capacity to hold many truths and perspectives at once.
:: Tend to beauty, to the sacred. It will keep you anchored in the timeless truth, allowing you to ride the waves of the temporary ups and downs.
:: Practice gratitude.
I will be offering telehealth sessions via doxy.me, a HIPPA compliant video conferencing platform. I can also do phone calls on a limited basis. If you want support for creating mindful practices during stressful times, please contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Elkington, MA, LMHC