Updated: Oct 20
If you're like me, it's a real challenge right now to get through the day. We're being told by experts to put our masks on first. To make sure we are emotionally regulated and grounded so we can be there for our families, friends, and communities.
But you may be asking how? How do I put my mask on first? How do I get emotionally regulated?
Below, I share with you some of the tools that I've learned in my mindfulness training that I am practicing now and have helped me many times in the past.
I hope they help you too.
1. LIMIT NEWS CONSUMPTION. BE INFORMED BUT DON’T IMMERSE
Scrolling social media and staring at tv news is addictive. Literally. Watching it releases dopamine in our brains and stimulates our fight, flight, fear response. We go into survival mode. Our senses are heightened. The media knows this, and many capitalize on it. Don’t fall prey.
Be conscious of how much you consume. Put yourself on a media diet.
Verify your news sources, especially on the internet.
Read more than you watch. Visual images have more of an impact on the brain.
Taking even a few minutes of your day to turn inward, to focus only on the present moment without judgment, trains the mind to keep returning to what is real, right here, right now.
Use your breath, your body sensations, or sounds as your focal point. Just concentrate on that. 5 minutes works, longer is even better.
Anxiety is imagining what will happen in future. Depression and sadness are rehashing what has happened in the past. STAY PRESENT. STAY WITH WHAT IS REAL AND TRUE RIGHT NOW.
Having a safe place to express all your feelings helps to release them from your body and mind.
Don’t pressure yourself to develop a practice, just write whenever you feel overwhelmed.
Think of the paper as if it’s a good friend. Share what you’re feeling. Let it out.
GENERAL PRACTICE: Inhale deeply through your nose from your belly to your chest. Then exhale through your mouth, for twice as long. If you like, you can make an audible noise as you expel all the air from your chest down to your belly. (This sound calms the nervous system.) Exhale the last bits of air from your belly by compressing belly to your spine.
The following are simple breath cycles you can do without guidance to calm your nervous system. Repeat for 5 minutes or longer if you are able.
Inhale for 4, exhale for 8.
Inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8.
Inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4.
Moving your body, shaking it off, is a primal and proven way to release tension and anxiety.
Any sport or exercise will do. Though one that literally has you shake your body will work wonders.
6. GET INTO NATURE
Nature gives us perspective by reminding us how small and insignificant we are. That our time here is brief. The world is larger than us. Life goes on after we are gone.
Listen to the birds chirp as they have for centuries.
Look at trees that have survived wars and natural disasters.
Listen to the ocean waves that have been hitting the shore for millennia.
Look at the sky and the stars. Think of how many generations of species have looked at them?
7. PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION
Starting at your feet, tense your muscles for 5, release.
Work your way up your calves, thighs, all the way up to your face and head. Tensing for 5 counts and releasing.
Your body and mind should feel more relaxed by the end of this focused scan.
8. FIND COMMUNITY, REACH OUT TO OTHERS
Share your feelings with others. Let them share with you. Bond in our common humanity. Have compassion. Hold space.
9. OFFER HELP HOWEVER YOU CAN
Every small gesture counts. Donate. Volunteer. Support.
Ask yourself, “How CAN I help?” What is within my capacity? How can my strengths be useful?
Being of service to others raises the spirits of all involved. And helps you feel purposeful.
10. LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH
That’s why we’re here. That’s joy. If you’re breathing, you owe it to yourself and to those who aren't able, to keep on being the light, keep on living.
Please pass this along if there is someone you have in mind that needs support right now.
Since recent years have not been easy on us, we need, more than ever, to have strategies and practices in place to manage our nervous systems long-term. I’m here to help.
If you'd like to learn more mindfulness and coaching tools you can work with me 1:1. Book a complimentary consultation at: https://calendly.com/franbellcoaching/60mindiscovery.