By Nichole Cobb,
Associate Marriage and Family Therapist
Tips on coping with Covid-19:
Helpful Tools for Anxiety
First let me appeal to your left/logical brain (before I sprinkle in some woo that I’m known for). On a physiological level, we need to maintain a deep and steady breath in order to supply a proper amount of oxygen to the brain. When we become anxious or stressed, our breathing becomes shallow, giving the brain less of that oxygen-rich blood it runs on. This causes the brain to panic a bit, sending emergency signals throughout your body that create harmful chemicals (such as adrenaline and cortisol) and intense physical reactions (such as rapid heartbeat or feeling nauseous). Factor in your conscious recognition of these reactions and you have yourself anxiety (if not a full blown panic attack)!
Try it for yourself: Pick this back up in a moment of anxiety, or if feeling anxious now, go ahead and check in with your heart by either putting your hand on your chest or closing your eyes and checking in, internally. Now take 5 deep breaths- try counting to 5 while breathing in, holding for 5, and exhaling for 5 to ensure a nice steady supply of oxygen for your amazing brain. Now check back in with your heart/chest and notice how the body begins calming down. Repeat this as many times as necessary.
Another exercise I use with a lot of clients is the “cleansing light” visualization. First, close your eyes and make sure both feet are on the ground (whether standing or sitting in a chair). Take a few deep breaths (maybe do the exercise mentioned above), then begin imagining you see a cleansing light surrounding you. As you inhale this cleansing light, notice it going into your nose, down your throat, through your chest, and into your belly. As you exhale, imagine this light is pulling out any energy or emotions you no longer want to hold inside. Perhaps you imagine the cleansing light as a crystal white light, and it turns grey or black as you exhale and it carries out anything that no longer serves you. Continue taking deep cleansing breaths, exhaling and removing all the anxiety, sadness, and stress you may be feeling. Repeat this as much as you need to; I typically advise clients to do this until they notice they are breathing out the same color energy they are breathing in (that means you have removed everything that needed to be, in order to be calm and centered!).
Lastly, it is important to try to stay grounded as much as possible in general, especially right now with everything going on. This will help you better recognize when anxiety or stress creeps in- you will be more aware of what’s going on in your body and discomfort from unhappy emotions will be more noticeable.
For this final tip, either stand or sit in a chair where your feet are on the ground. Take some deep cleansing breaths (again, feel free to do both of the above exercises to get more grounded if needed). Checking in with the bottom of your feet, imagine they are being plugged into the ground, almost as if a magnet is keeping you from being able to lift them even if you wanted to. Next, imagine there are roots coming out of the soles of your feet. Feel the sensation as you establish a strong connection with the earth, feeling these roots sink down, down, down, until they have sunk past the floor under you, past the thick clay deep in the earth, all the way until these roots reach the core of the earth. See your roots wrapping around the core of the earth and notice this deep connection you have established. Take several moments to recognize the profound connection you have right now, and how grounded your body is as a result.
You can do this as long as you want, and any time throughout the day. Whether you’re standing in a line (hopefully practicing social distancing), sitting at a table, or doing anything where your feet are on the ground, you can imagine your roots coming out from the bottom of your feet and helping you ground down and connect with the powerful earth energy we often forget we need in order to balance out the energy centers of our body (don’t even get me started on chakras or this article will never end). You can do this with shoes, although there is nothing more grounding than walking around on the earth in your bare feet.
More than anything, please make sure you are practicing mindfulness and staying centered in any way you find most helpful. We WILL get through this, together!
Much love, Nichole.
About the Author
Nichole Cobb is an associate marriage and family therapist. She currently works in Folsom, specializing in women’s issues, trauma, and attachment issues. Using a mind-body approach, she incorporates knowledge of energy work, chakras, and meditation to promote inner healing. In addition, Nichole uses empirical tools such as EMDR and parts work to help clients better understand early programming and how that is currently affecting their adult relationships.