With lockdown restrictions now being eased and all of us beginning to tentatively step out of our homes and back into the world it seems to me natural, even if you have been coping well to this point, that the next steps might leave us all feeling anxious.
The last ten weeks have upset everyone, whether you have been working, home-working, home-schooling, furloughed or made redundant. My mind has been racing trying to understand data, we have all become back-seat epidemiologists trying to weigh up risks and understand new concepts. The constant state of high alert has left us all tired, world-weary and many of us have had very limited social contact beyond our immediate homes.
This month looks set to be another month of change, with our children restarting school and the possibility for some of a return to workplaces. It is likely you may feel rushed to react to events, we won’t have much certainty and we will probably feel negative at times, but Fegans’ Natalie Edward assures me these times will pass. Dad.info spoke to Natalie to ask for ideas to help us stay calm in the face of overwhelm and she has shared techniques below that will help you to acknowledge the uncertainty but allow you to let worries go and instead focus on the present moment, right now, where hopefully all is well.
I’m not particularly into mindfulness or meditation, but I have tried Natalie’s self-guided meditation techniques below and actually it is really comforting listening to yourself, reassuring to hear yourself calmly suggesting you breathe and it left me relaxed. Hope it works for you.
7/11 or 5 & 9 BREATHING
Breath is a major component in controlling anxiety. It regulates our heart rate reducing the hormone cortisol that can cause excessive stress levels. By closing our eyes and taking a breath in through our nose to the count of 7 (or 5 if preferable / or for children), and then breathing out through our mouth to the count of 11 (or 9 if preferable) for several rounds, we will automatically lower our heart rate and become less panicked. If you can, with your eyes, follow the lines of a window or door frame as you complete the in and out breaths.
Try this self-guided meditation Record yourself on your phone calmly and slowly, leaving space to breathe, reading through the words written below and then use this to help yourself in times of stress.
Notice what is going on for you at the moment. Drop into a sense of what is going on for you. Notice feelings in the body and emotions in your physical barometer. Not turning away but noticing your thoughts and feelings. Acknowledge whatever it is that’s happening, not turning away, but staying with the physical sense of what’s going on. Noticing where any thoughts and feelings are within your body.
Next place one hand on your chest and the other on your lower stomach whilst focusing on the in and out breaths.
Focus on the breath going all the way into the body and then all the way out of the body. Allow the hands to move with your chest and your stomach. If your mind wanders, simply bring it back very gently. In your mind say quietly to yourself, “Breathing in. Breathing out.”
Now allow your hands to drop, then allow the breath to fill your whole body. Then, as your breath fills your lungs, imagine it moving right through your body, from the top of your head to the ends of your finger tips and your toes. Take the breath to any areas of discomfort or tension, breathing in to any sensations, and then gently breathing out and letting them go. Then imagine the breath filling the space beyond your body. The space that your body takes up. Imagine yourself in your own protective space. And now take this new expanded sense of yourself forward, feeling safe, protected and secure.
If your anxieties lead you to feelings of panic then try this.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1
This exercise is for when you feel a panic attack coming on. Together with regulating your breathing, try and focus your mind on the following:
5 THINGS YOU CAN SEE
4 THINGS YOU CAN TOUCH
3 THINGS YOU CAN HEAR
2 THINGS YOU CAN SMELL
1 POSITIVE STATEMENT ABOUT YOURSELF – i.e. I am strong and I can handle this.
REPEAT UNTIL CALM
Do see your GP if this is new episode, or has become worse.
If you need to talk you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123