Before I start this post today, I invite you to close your eyes and take ten deep, long breaths down into your belly. This is a great start to reestablishing a state of calm in the system. In these very unusual times we have suddenly found ourselves in, it can be very easy to get caught up in the chaos, anxiety, and fear that surrounds us. However, just as anxious energy will breed anxious energy, staying centered, level-headed, and CALM will help others feel a bit more grounded and allow you more comfort as we get through this pandemic, one day at a time.
Although it does not help to go into panic-mode during any time of crisis, it is a good idea to be intelligent and aware of the CDC guidelines to take. This includes taking precaution when going out (e.g. clean hands frequently, avoid large crowds, avoid going out if you are sick, stay home if you are immunocompromised) and using awareness in your day to day living (e.g. cough mindfully, eat healthily, rest more). Stock up on your necessities without hoarding or taking extra when others may need it (that is, share!). Going out and buying all of the toilet paper or rice will only add to the chaos, anxiety, and fear that permeates most of the world at the moment. Stock up mindfully for a few weeks and leave some resources for your neighbors!
If you are finding it hard to keep grounded at this time, you are definitely not alone. Here are some easy and effective ways to keep your calm during this unusual, okay let’s face it – WEIRD, WEIRD, time.
How to Stay Calm During COVID Crisis
1. Keep to Your Daily Routine As Much As Possible
Our daily routine may have become a bit uprooted at this time, but we can still keep up with a basic healthy schedule that will allow more balance in our body and mind. This includes:
- Keep to a healthy sleep schedule
- Keep to a healthy meal schedule
- Make time for movement
- Make time for self-care (see ideas below!)
- Make time for family and friends (even if by phone)
- Make time for things you enjoy (reading, writing, singing, dancing, hiking, music, drawing, etc)
2. Perform Abhyanga (oil massage) Regularly
Our nervous systems have become overstimulated and hypersensitive. By taking some time to massage oil onto the skin, we can begin to heal and strengthen our nervous system, ground our energy, and release the stress and tension that has accumulated so quickly over the past few weeks. This practice is more essential if you are experiencing anxiety or sleep issues.
Directions: Massage a warm medicated oil or refined sesame oil onto the entire body beginning at the scalp and ending at the feet. Take time to massage each area mindfully, and take extra time for any areas that seem to be holding extra tension such as the temples, neck, or shoulders. For the most grounding effect, perform before bed and leave the oil on overnight (wear old pajamas!).
On the nights when there is no time for a full body massage, simply massage the oil onto the scalp, forehead, neck, and feet to ground the energy and release tension.
3. Take Warm Baths
If you are feeling anxious, restless, or tense, a warm to hot bath is an instant way to calm the nervous system and quiet the mind. Vata and Kapha types can take hotter baths, while Pitta types should err on the side of warm. No matter your body type, however, you can receive more healing benefits by adding in some calming essential oils (e.g. lavender, rosemary, chamomile), Epsom salts, or ginger and baking soda (great for immunity, too!).
Directions: Take a warm to hot bath before bed or anytime you begin to feel anxious or overwhelmed. Stay in the tub for at least 10 to 15 minutes while breathing mindfully. Avoid thinking about any stressors; instead, focus on releasing tension throughout the body and bring the attention to the soothing sound of your long, deep inhale and exhale. For sleep issues, you can take a bath before bed and then apply the oil massage afterward for even greater calming support.
4. Practice Meditation Daily
There is no better way to calm and quiet the mind than through the regular practice of meditation. No matter your style, meditation can be a great way to clear the clutter and chaos that may have accumulated in your mind since the rise of the COVID virus. It is also a great way to stay centered, grounded, and rational in these times of distress.
Directions: Take 5 to 15 minutes each morning to sit quietly, breathe deeply, slow down the mind, and meditate. For even greater effect, perform a 5 to 15 minute session again before lunch, and/or before bed.
5. Eat Healthy, Warm Meals
This is kind of a two in one recommendation. First, we must protect our systems and strengthen our immunity at this time by eating healthy, whole foods and avoiding processed foods, sugary foods and drinks, and junk food. Second, we must ground our energy and calm our minds by eating more warm, soothing meals such as soups, stews, crockpot meals, kitchari, dal, porridges, oatmeal, and warm, well-cooked grains. Avoid skipping meals and avoid most cold, raw foods (e.g. juices, smoothies, salads), all of which can increase anxiety and restlessness (and Vata!).
6. Keep Up With Exercise
So your gym has shut down or you simply are using common sense and are avoiding outings such as this. Do not get discouraged! There are still many exercises you can practice in the comfort of your home, or if the weather permits, in your outdoor surroundings. Remember, gentle exercise is a great way to release stress, clear our minds, boost our moods, and boost our immunity!
If you are new to home exercise practices, you can find many exercise ideas and classes on YouTube. Simply google the type of workout you prefer (e.g. aerobic, strength training, weight loss), and if applicable, the areas of the body you are looking to target (e.g. abdominal workout, arms, total body). You will find endless options available!
If YouTube is not your cup of tea, simply make your own routine using home weights or body weight exercises (e.g. squats, lunges, plank). And if all else fails, go for a bike ride, mild jog, or brisk walk. The most important factor will be to aim for 30 minutes of movement daily, with exercises your body needs and your mind enjoys.
Of course, during this time of compromised immunity we must practice common sense. Mild exercise is beneficial for our systems, whereas too much can be depleting. So listen to your body – if you feel good, go for it; if you feel sick, take it easy and rest!
7. Go On Daily Fresh Air Walks
During this time of closures, isolation, and distancing, it is likely you may be feeling a bit cooped up in your home. Make it a point to take at least one nice walk outside each day in order to breathe in some fresh Prana, clear your mind, and get some movement happening. Feeling like you are stuck in your home can cause you to feel depressed, lethargic, and unmotivated. Going for even a 15 minutes walk once or twice daily will help to awaken the mind and revitalize your spirit.
8. Practice At-Home Yoga
It is likely that your Yoga studios may be closing (and let’s face it, it may not be the best idea to go to the classes that are still being held). However, this time of chaos and uprooting is when our bodies and minds need Yoga the most. If you are new to practicing Yoga at home, you can simply practice some simple Sun Salutations, or make up your own sequence. If you prefer guidance, you can easily find many options on YouTube. Click here for a woman that has a Yoga video for just about everyone; or simply explore your options on your own and see if you can find some videos that resonate with your needs.
No matter how you go about finding your home practice, make sure it is not too intense, but rather more on the slow, calm, and grounding side. Think gentle Yoga, restorative Yoga, or Yin Yoga, for some more grounding, stress releasing, and mind quieting practices.
8. Keep Up With Sleep
Sleep helps us to rest and restore. It also helps to strengthen our immunity, process our experiences, and control our thoughts and emotions. If your sleep has been affected, it will be essential to take advantage of as many of the calming recommendations listed in order to regain the state of balance that is needed to prepare for proper sleep each night.
9. Avoid Excessive Caffeine
If you are feeling anxious, worried, or restless, it may be beneficial to avoid or limit your caffeine intake. If you are taking in too much caffeine, you are likely going to provoke the anxiety and restlessness further. So instead of that extra cup of coffee, try making a calming cup of herbal tea instead. There are so many deliciously healing options – try some below!
DIY Herbal Tea Recipes
10. Get Support and Give Support
Our support systems can be our saving grace during times of stress, turmoil, and fear of the unknown. It is vital that you establish a strong support system if you are feeling overwhelmed. Your support system may be your family in your home, your family out of the state or country, your old friends, or your neighbors you are just meeting for the first time.
Times like this gives us a great opportunity to reach out with the people we may have been too busy to call recently or simply have never made that initial step to say “hello.” Just by talking and listening with others around you, you will begin to feel better, and in turn, you will likely be helping them out as well. Please remember that we are all in this together.
By working as a team rather than with the mentality of “every man for himself”, we will get through this pandemic with much more ease and likely strengthen some relationships along the way! So talk and listen with others, share your resources, and lend a helping hand!
11. Avoid Excessive and Unnecessary Media Around the Virus
If you have found yourself caught in the web of the endless media that currently revolves around the COVID virus, you are likely feeling more anxious, fearful, and restless than needed. Make sure you are going to reputable, trustworthy media sources that are reporting honest and necessary information. Many not-so-reputable sources are simply using this pandemic to breed fear and anxiety because, guess what, that is what sells. So please avoid getting sucked in by the media forces that are feeding us unnecessary and sometimes exaggerated or untrue information simply to make money. Instead, limit your overall exposure to only what is needed for your better understanding and preparation in this crisis and avoid the rest.
12. Take Herbal Support for Immunity
Herbs can be a powerful support for our health and wellbeing. Western medicine may not have discovered antiviral medication at this point, but, lucky for us, Mother Nature has bestowed us with endless herbs that have been killing viruses and other microbes for thousands of years. Here are my immunity essentials during times of sickness (prevention and treatment):
- DIY Tulsi, Turmeric, Ginger Tea Recipe (with added freshly ground black pepper)
13. Take Herbal Support for Balancing the Mind
Just as it is important to support our immune system, we must also find herbal support if we are feeling emotional uprooted, anxious, restless, sleep disturbed, or simply out-of-control. I myself tend toward anxiety, which will in turn lead me to a state of feeling overwhelmed. Here are some of my most grounding herbal remedies for staying calm during crisis:
Although we are going through a very real state of emergency, many of us are also very fortunate to have plenty of resources to get us through, even with our gyms, restaurants, libraries, and schools closed temporarily (and it is important to remember this is just temporary). We are very blessed to have countless online shopping options, the internet, cell phones, and many other technologies that our ancestors lived without during much more trying times. The best way to get through any crisis is to slow down, breathe deep, and take control of your thoughts and emotions. Think rationally, work as a team, and give help when needed, especially to those of us that this crisis is much more life-threatening. We are in this together and we will get through it together! Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti