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Panic is in the air, and it seems almost impossible to avoid it. We’re in a State of Emergency across the country, with schools and public buildings closed, restaurants with take-out only services, and grocery stores running out of supplies. People are glued to the news and social media, looking for the latest virus updates and scanning through facts and memes about all our country is facing right now.
The fear is palpable – and understandable – but is doing more harm than good to our immune health and the health of our communities. We’re on information overload and it’s causing panic, anxiety, and overwhelm among even those of us who are normally so calm. It’s time to restore our peace. So curl up on the couch with a warm cup of tea, and let’s go over what it takes to remain calm in the face of chaos.
When your mind is racing, grounding helps you focus and stay calm. The amygdala is the part of your brain responsible for your emotions and fear response. As soon as you have a negative thought about a situation, it causes faster and more shallow breathing, increases your heart rate, and causes your muscles to tense up. Then it feeds off these changes and creates a vicious cycle where you become more and more anxious and feel overwhelmed by it all.
Grounding breaks the cycle. If the weather permits where you live, take your shoes off and consciously push your feet down into the ground. As you breathe in, imagine the energy from the earth coming up into your body. As you breathe out, picture all the nervous energy from your mind draining down through your body and into the ground. Notice how each part of part of your body feels heavy as the nervous energy leaves and you relax. Notice how alive you feel as you draw up the energy from the earth.
If you can’t go outdoors for this, then find a chair that allows you to plant your feet firmly on the floor. Bring your focus to how your body feels sitting in that chair, then focus on draining the energy from your mind as I just explained. Once you feel peaceful and calm you can stop and just breathe quietly for a few minutes.
Some people build up too much nervous energy to be able to sit still and focus, so grounding simply isn’t possible. When that vicious cycle of anxiety is created, your fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system response is also activated. We call it fight-or-flight for a reason – your body is gearing up for you to fight or run from the threat, whether it’s emotional or physical.
The best way to calm that nervous energy is to fulfill your fight-or-flight response by doing aerobic exercise. Take a brisk walk or run outside, on a treadmill, or even up and down the stairs. Scrub the bathroom or do another chore or yardwork that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat. Or turn up the music and dance like no one is watching! Whatever you choose, once your heart rate goes up, your nervous system calms down because you’ve “run” from whatever was causing you to feel threatened. Then you can do your grounding to keep your mind calm and prevent that vicious cycle from starting all over again. If your health doesn’t allow for vigorous exercise, then mind-body practices like yoga, tai chi, or walking meditation can also help.
The live updates from officials about the virus are almost constant right now, which feeds the panic and keeps us up at night. There’s never been a time in history that we’ve had such immediate access to what is happening across the globe and, as this pandemic is teaching us, that isn’t always a good thing. The toilet paper shortage is an excellent example of this. As soon as one store reported they were sold out of toilet paper it went viral, and soon all the stores were sold out and people started hoarding. The only way to stop this fear, insecurity, and outright panic is to unplug for a while.
Turn off the news, walk away from your phone and other devices, and go outside and breathe some fresh air. Take a nap, cook a favorite meal, or spend some time with your favorite (offline) hobby. Feel your dopamine levels return to normal as your brain readjusts from all the blue light exposure. For a good night’s sleep, be sure to unplug at least 2 hours before you want to sleep. This ensures healthy melatonin levels and prevents a late night dopamine surge. You may even want to supplement with melatonin if night time binge-watching has been preventing your good night’s sleep.
Stress and worry increase our production of stress hormones like cortisol, which then suppress the immune system. And I know for some of us, it’s hard to shut the worry off. So we deplete our stores of essential nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. Supplementing with UNI KEY Health’s Mag-Key (dosed daily at 5 milligrams per pound of weight) and Adrenal Formula during times of intense or chronic stress is a must-have, in my opinion. In addition, save the skins of your root vegetables and add sea salt and filtered water to make a potassium-rich broth to drink. And I personally use Rescue Remedy, which is a blend of 5 flower essences, when I need help relaxing.
We’re all in this together, with the end goal of keeping as many people healthy as possible and preventing the deaths of vulnerable people. There’s nothing like a sense of community during times like these, when fear would have us pull away. Reach out to friends and family, especially if this time of social distancing is isolating them in any way. Face time, call or even record a video to send to them. Send handwritten letters, artwork from children, or even a care package to let them know they aren’t alone.
If you are home with your family, organize activities you can do at home or out in nature to help you reconnect and feel closer. Cook a meal together, go for a walk, play a game, or just watch a movie together on the couch. How you respond to this pandemic affects everyone around you, so I encourage you to be the calm voice of reason everyone so desperately needs right now. Breathe deeply, get plenty of rest, and practice what I’ve taught you. And do stay connected with me on Facebook. You can count on me for reliable, factual information for your mental and physical health.