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  • Writer's pictureDr. Meagan Stanley

Q: How do I reduce my stress and anxiety during this time of uncertainty?

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

Quick and easy stress reducing and grounding exercises

I have always been interested in the effects of stress on the body. I will certainly write another post on the health impacts of stress, but for now, and given the situation at hand, I wanted to focus on how to reduce acute stress, quickly and effectively. These strategies will not only improve your mental state but will also make sure your immune system is in tiptop shape.

Several things are happening that may be causing an increase in anxiety within us. Most obvious is that we are in a scary time with the COVID-19 pandemic, and no one knows how it will unfold. The mind will always search for control as a way to defend against fear. Even if you aren’t prone to worry, you may be noticing yourself focusing on the worst-case scenarios. To some extent, this is completely normal. We instinctively will attend to threats to our health and safety of our loved ones and ourselves. However, we can work to manage some of the rumination, paranoia and preoccupation, which is what I hope this post will help you with.

Additionally, a change in routine will likely cause some anxiety and depression for many. Not being able to exercise, be outside, socialize with coworkers, friends and family members, and a decline in productivity and meaningful work will all impact your mental health. If you normally live an active lifestyle, you may feel particularly lonely, bored, sad or worried.

For sensitive and empathic people, you will also be picking up on the anxiety of others. Just going to the grocery store, I could feel the anxiety folks were feeling on a visceral level. It can be disheartening to watch others be rude, short tempered, or cruel to our fellow humans. Remember that these acts are also done out of fear and confusion. Whether you are spreading hatred or even being prideful and dismissive in this time, this is an ego response. When you are not aligned with ego, you are accepting of the truth, without any judgment or harshness towards yourself or others.

I will leave you with 6 strategies to try to calm the mind, lift the spirit, and reduce stress and anxiety:

  • Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Breathe deeply and slowly for 5 breaths.

  • Get in touch with your senses: breathe in an essential oil/flowers/herbs, drink hot tea, play with clay, listen to soothing music.

  • Do 20 jumping jacks to expel energy in your body.

  • Engage your brain and creativity by doodling, coloring, making a card for a friend, knitting/crocheting, learning origami, etc.

  • Find a fun distraction like listing your “top 3” in different categories, such as foods (fruits, types of cheeses, cuisines), flowers, trees, movies, books, candles, places, etc.

  • Use a grounding mantra. Try “in this moment, I am okay.”

  • Meditate (see previous post here).

Be well and take care of one another.

Love, MLS

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