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Our world is changing every day. There is a ton of uncertainty and we have no information about when it's going to end. Stating the obvious, but as a result, many people are experiencing anxiety. Due to the uncertainty, there are likely days when that stress hormone cortisol is high all day long, with muscles feeling rigid and tense, causing exhaustion. Even though that exhausted feeling hasn't left all day, your head hits the pillow and you cannot sleep...sound familiar?
Take a few minutes here - and just pause - and I completely realize how challenging that is right now; but just take a few breaths and just be aware of any body sensations. Tightness in your shoulders or neck, headache, uneasy feeling in your belly, maybe it's even hard to take a deep breath because your muscles are so tight. Just be aware of that. Maybe you can feel a temperature change in your face or hands; maybe your jaw is clenched, or your hands are tight when anxiety is present. But just because we accept it, doesn't mean the anxiety takes over, on the contrary, awareness and acceptance means we are in a better position to decide how we are going to respond, instead of reacting to anxiety.
When anxiety ramps us up, we get these physical sensations going and we may even experience an anxiety attack. Being aware and accepting that this is anxiety allows us the opportunity to breathe and interrupt this cycle. Try to find something that calms you - maybe it's a photo, or having your cat or dog with you, maybe it's being in your room, or listening to a certain song. When you feel these physical body sensations coming, find your calm and really focus and maybe give yourself an encouraging message too, and breathe slow, deep breaths while closing your eyes to help you focus. When we can respond differently to anxiety once, we gain a feeling of control. This also means we don't have to go through the long recovery afterwards that takes so much of our energy. When we can stay calmer that means our brain doesn't go into fight - flight - freeze mode constantly as well.
With acceptance and acknowledgement, we can start thinking about responding to anxiety; not reacting and being aware of those body sensations means we can start to relax our bodies and breathe. This may be new for many of you - and it's likely going to feel strange not giving in to allow anxiety to take you down that exhausting path. Be willing to try, you may not get it perfect but it will come with practice. Don't give up.
I was doing yoga with my daughter and the online instructor was continuing to talk about the importance of the breath and that we need to relax because, "we can't be on fire all the time". So true, and right now, I think many of us feel like we are on fire, our bodies and our brains are in overdrive. We don't know what tomorrow will hold, but giving your body and your brain a break from the stress is essential. Breathe and be well.
Here is a link to Yoga for Bedtime with Adriene
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