After more than a year and a half, it has become clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live forever, from our work arrangements to our recreational activities to our social lives. This new reality poses a number of unique challenges for all of us. Deep breathing is very helpful in slowing down the nervous system, says Dr. Henry Emmons, a Minneapolis psychiatrist and author of The Chemistry of Calm.
If anxious thoughts are still hanging around, try this alternative strategy, he suggests. First, exhale completely, then inhale deeply. On the next exhalation, gently place an index finger against your right nostril to close it. Inhale using only the left nostril.
Then move your index finger to the left nostril to close it, and exhale only through the open right nostril. Continue alternating sides and repeat for 15 rounds. Listening carefully is another way to immerse yourself in the present moment and let go of persistent worries and stress, says Dr. Take a few seconds and sit back, truly listening to all the sounds around you, even if they're just the buzzing of a ceiling fan or the dog's panting at your feet.
Try to integrate it into your day as small 10-second breaks. The more you do this, the more common it becomes, Emmons says. While undertaking a full workout is useful for taking care of yourself, sometimes all you need is to simply change your body position for about 15 to 30 seconds to start over, Emmons says. When you make a conscious and physical change, such as standing up and stretching, your mind recognizes the change and responds in a beneficial way.
Consider it a little break for both mind and body. Try standing up and stretching your arms above your head, bending down to touch your toes, or sitting on the floor with your legs crossed to stretch your hips. Self-care, as the name suggests, is about taking care of yourself to ensure that your physical and emotional needs are met. All the stress-relieving activities in the world won't do any good if you don't take care of yourself.
Meditation won't do you any good if you don't get enough sleep. In fact, when you try to meditate, you might fall asleep because you don't take care of your body's sleep needs.