Dealing with Anxiety at Home
The recent upheaval in our daily lives due to coronavirus has left many feeling scattered, uprooted, and anxious. For those in recovery, these emotions can be a slippery slope. Although being at home can feel like our usual support resources are no longer available, we can shift our perspective to viewing this time as an opportunity to strengthen our daily internal resiliency practices and mind-body resources.
There are a wealth of efficient and easy tools to turn to when we feel the first signs of anxiety arise, but the key is designating a set time to check in with your body, mind, and breath each day, regardless of the presence of anxiety. This can be as quick as two mindful minutes in bed after waking or before falling asleep, or a full hour of gentle yoga. The importance is creating the daily discipline. Even on days when things feel peaceful and at ease, insisting on creating space for your own physical, mental, and respiratory reflection will create a foundation upon which anxiety is unable to get so tight of a grip. Make sure these check-ins are as uninterrupted as possible and are located in a physical space that you look forward to being in – indoors or outdoors!
Second, nourish your physical body and nervous system with nutritious foods. Perhaps during check in times reflect back on what your meals consisted of that day or, if in the AM hours, what meals you plan to eat in the day ahead. Stick to the basics. For example, did I have a vegetable today, did I have fruit today, did I have grains today, and did I have something that brings me joy today? No need to nit-pick; again, merely the practice of reflecting will create ripple effects in the body and mind.
Even after you have incorporated these simple reflections into your daily routine, waves of anxiety will inevitably crop up. When you notice yourself stuck in the racing thoughts, shallow breathing, and physical restlessness; here are some immediate tools to bring you back to a baseline:
- Extended Exhale Breathing: find a comfortable seat or lying down position. Place the hands gently on the belly. Count to 2 as you inhale and 4 as you exhale. Repeat 10-15 rounds of breath. This exercise can be done as many times as necessary throughout the day.
- Moon Salutations: you have probably heard of yoga’s popular sun salutation. This is its sister sequence that is designed to create feelings of grounding and coolness. Here is a short 8-minute instructional video from Rashmi Ramesh: (Click Here for Video)
- Shaking Meditation: turn on your favorite, upbeat, song (preferably 3-5 minutes in length) and begin shaking one bone in the body at a time. Work your way from the top of the head down to the soles of the feet, being sure to shake every bone in between. Shake each bone individually for about 10 seconds, then once complete, shake the entire body for 60 seconds. Move around your space as you shake! Once the song/shaking is complete. Lay on your back for 1-2 minutes of rest with the eyes closed or softened at the eye creases.
Remember to be patient with yourself, your worries, and your body. Sometimes the anxiety and tension will dissipate quickly while other waves may be stronger and linger for days. Remind yourself that these waves are temporary while being proactive with the tools offered above.
– Katherine Quayhagen