How to Keep Calm in the Age of Epidemics
How to keep calm is the biggest question these days. Store shelves are wiped clean of toilet paper, paper towels and even SPAM!
With so much misinformation spreading as quickly as the virus itself, it is imperative that we practice ways to keep calm. The more we practice simple techniques to calm ourselves, the stronger our immune systems are and we are more likely to stay healthy.
High stress levels can also lead to depression and anxiety, complicating matters even more.
We can easily learn to be our own calm creators. Rather that trying to meditate for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night, begin to experience short moments of calm and peace many times a day.
5 Easy Ways to Keep Calm
Take a Digital Time Out
More and more studies are coming out proving the link between our digital devices and stress, anxiety and depression. While we want to stay informed, constantly checking our phones for the latest news is like a jackhammer to our immune systems. I am not suggesting to totally unplug and go off the grid, but begin to limit how much and how often you check the news.
I’m reminded of the lyrics to the Eagles’ song “Dirty Laundry“:
“We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blond
Who comes on at five
She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye
It’s interesting when people die
Give us dirty laundry.”
Remember, the media wants you to feel scared so you will keep coming back to check again and again!
Reading has a magical way of floating stress away, like a feather on a breeze. Instead of constantly checking the latest news, read! It is very important that you are conscious about what you are choosing to read. Look for something inspirational, motivational or humorous. Pick up a fiction book or the latest thriller – just not the news!
Reading can reduce stress by up to 68%, according to a 2009 study by Mindlab International at the University of Sussex. The study found that reading worked better and more quickly than other options like drinking a cup of tea, going for a walk or listening to music.
If you’ve ever seen someone who is very upset, thumping or tapping on their chest, they were doing the thymus thump without knowing what they were doing! We instinctively tap on our thymus gland as it helps us to calm down, stimulate your energy system, boost your immune system and increase your strength, according to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Count to Keep Calm
When you focus on your breath, it brings you out of your mind and into this moment. That is why I share many different breath techniques in my book “Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom.”
You can do this simple breath technique any time and any where to help you keep calm. As you inhale, think 1, exhale 2, inhale 3, exhale 4, inhale 5, exhale 6, inhale 7, exhale 8, inhale 7, exhale 6, inhale 5, exhale 4, inhale 3, exhale 2, inhale 1, exhale 2; and repeat, repeat repeat.
The beauty of this is you WILL find your mind wander off and you will find yourself at 17 or 24 or whatever. When that happens, rather than getting upset, simply start back again at inhale 1, etc.
A client who had struggle for years with sleep issues recently shared:
“I slept great last night. I used the 1 to 8 breaths and was fine, I’m going to feel great today. WOO HOO!”
Many times, my clients will yawn during a session and they almost always are embarrassed. I always say “no, keep yawning!”. When you yawn, whether intentional or not, you stimulate the vagus nerve. It’s the longest nerve in your body, stretching from your brain to your gut, and circling all of your organs. When the vagus nerve gets stimulated it stimulates the parasympathetic (or rest and digest) nervous system.
This in turn slows the heart rate, relaxes muscles, and stimulates digestion helping to turn off the sympathetic (or “fight or flight”) nervous system.
Practice yawning at various points during the day and notice how it’s easier to keep calm.
This is one of my clients’ favorites and my husband’s too!
Either draw a square on a piece of paper or trace one on your leg or table or desk. Start with your finger in the upper left-hand corner. As you trace your finger to the right, breathe in to the count of 4. As you trace your finger down the outside of the square, hold your breath to the count of 4. As you trace your finger across the bottom to the left, exhale to the count of 4. As you trace your finger up the left side of the square, hold your breath to the count of 4. Repeat a few times until you feel calm.
One of the reasons this breathing technique is so effective is that it is a total pattern interrupt! For our entire lives, we have had the pattern of breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out. When we add in the hold your breath, it is like sending a message to your parasympathetic nervous system to slow down and send the happy hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins coursing through our body!
Pick 2 or 3 of these techniques and begin weaving them into every day. You will be able to keep calm even in the midst of chaos going on around you. Remember, the calmer you are, the healthier you are.