In a time of global anxiety, how can we calm down


The fast-evolving Covid-19 situation has hit us hard in 2020. Globally there is uncertainty, fear and anxiety over the virus. Understandably, we are constantly keeping abreast of the news as the number of people infected globally rises.

Almost all of us are already impacted by Covid-19 in some way – either by the work-from-home initiatives, cancelled projects and events, or scaled down school activities. But more important than the logistics and practicalities of daily life, I am beginning to notice a feeling of fatigue and drain that is perhaps the result of being in a constant anxious state.

Anxiety is a normal response to stressful situations that are new or challenging, but more and more people are experiencing anxiety on a day-to-day basis.

When this happens, as well as physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, tension headaches or a churning stomach, it can also be hard to think clearly, and even simple decisions begin to feel difficult and overwhelming.

Often, at the same time as feeling overwhelmed, the urgency to make a decision increases and you end up in a position where you feel a pressure to make a decision whilst not being able to see you options and possibilities clearly.  This can leave you feeling more anxious and so the cycle builds.

To help with this, it is useful to get to know your own symptoms of anxiety. Do you have a headache when you’re anxious?  Does your heart rate increase?  Do you notice your body feels shakier?  Do you experience tightness in your chest? What are your familiar signs of anxiety?

I’m going to share a simple breathing technique with you help when you notice these signs of anxiety. When you are anxious your breath starts to constrict in the chest area, which makes it harder to breath and increases your anxiety levels.

Here is a simple Pause Practice, called Abdominal Breathing, to help calm yourself when you are feeling anxious.

To begin, fully exhale for one breath – this will help reset your natural breathing pattern. Then to practice abdominal breathing take a deep breath that goes in through your nose, and down into your stomach, and then exhale gently out through your mouth like you are blowing out a candle.

This type of breath allows the tightness in your chest to begin to dissolve.

You can take as many of these abdominal breaths that feels best for you.  It might be 3 or 5 or 10 or more.  The trick is to keep going until you can feel your anxiety reducing and you begin to feel calm again.

When you are ready, I want you to take three abdominal breaths.

Take a deeper inhale in through your mouth, letting the breath go down into your belly and then gently exhale out of your mouth just like you are blowing out a candle.

Repeat that by taking a nice deep breath in through your mouth, down into your belly and then exhale gently through your mouth like you are blowing our a candle.

Once more time, in though your mouth, down into your belly and out through your mouth gently like you are blowing out a candle.

Now let your breath return to its normal rhythm.

As you settle notice how you are feeling. You can practice this at any time and the good news is no-one else needs to know you’re doing it!

When you feel your body communicating to you that you need a Pause, listen to it. In these times, it can feel like a luxury to focus on your well-being, but I would encourage you to pay attention to it precisely because these are anxious times.

Hope you stay well and safe. Do email and let me know if you would like any further Pause support from me.