Most of us find uncertainty to be incredibly uncomfortable. We like things to be clear. We like to know what’s coming next. We like to feel in control.
Right now almost everything feels unknown. Coronavirus (COVID-19) has turned our world upside down. Things are constantly in flux. Even as areas of the country start to reopen, there is a lack of certainty about how it will play out. With all this uncertainty comes anxiety. Anxiety is future oriented, it’s all about what ifs: “what if ____ (fill in the negative or catastrophic outcome)?” And our lives during this time are filled with what ifs.
So, how do we survive uncertainty? Over the next few posts I will be offering some strategies to help you stay grounded and centered during times of uncertainty.
Years ago I managed a yoga studio: the mantra written on the window was Please Breathe. Simple. And yet, we often forget to notice. In this very moment, as you read this, you are breathing. It’s kind of amazing!
Our breath can give us clues to how we are feeling. What is your breath like in this moment? When we are feeling anxiety our breath tends to be short and shallow. When we are calm our breath tends to slow down and deepen into the full expanse of our lungs.
Our breath can be like an anchor: it can ground us in the present moment so we are not carried away by thoughts of the past or the future. We can become mindful and slow down our breathing with simple deep breathing exercises (like the one below).
If you feel comfortable, in this moment place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly.
Slowly inhale through your nose for a count of 4.
When you reach the top of your breath try holding it in for a count of 2.
When you are ready to exhale release your4 breath through your mouth in a steady stream for a count of 6.
You might focus on the sound of the breath, or the rise and fall of your chest or your belly, or the cool air entering your nose and exiting your mouth.
Try breathing in this deep way for 5-10 rounds.
Notice what happens in your body and mind.
Perhaps you notice your heart rate slow, your shoulders soften, your thoughts settle a bit. Sometimes things will shift, sometimes not. Either way is ok. This is all about paying attention and slowing down.
You can do this simple deep breathing exercise in any position (standing, sitting, supine) and anywhere (walking, driving, standing in line, alone or with others).
I hope this deep breathing exercise helps you find a sense of calm and steadiness amidst the uncertainty.
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