2020 has been INTENSE for all of us. We've all got a battle or two (or more) going on right now in our lives.
Even dentists are reporting increased numbers of cracked teeth and dental emergencies since the Spring. Apparently, it's from all the jaw clenching and teeth grinding from stress.
Good news, I've got a go to breathing exercise for anxiety and stress...
THE COOLING BREATH
It’ll not only help you process strong emotions like The Ha Breath does, but help you calm and relax your nervous system.
It’s the perfect time to add it to your breath work toolbox.
OK let's test it out.
Check in to see if you are feeling any anxiety or stress. Rate it on a scale of 1 (none) to 10 (I’m freaking out).
Next do 5 reps of The Cooling Breath.
HOW TO DO THE COOLING BREATH
After 5 reps of The Cooling Breath, check back in and rate your anxiety or stress on a scale of 1 to 10. Did it go down? Do you want to do a few more reps? Listen to your body. What does it need?
You can use The Cooling Breath during the day, in the car, before bed. Anytime you feel anxiety rising. Make sure to teach it to your kiddos. They'll love it. You can describe it like blowing bubbles if that helps them catch on to it.
We are sending tons of love to anyone fighting or recovering from the virus, the fires, or the hurricanes. Please take care of yourself during these challenging times.
P.S. Craving better sleep? Download this 5 minute rest meditation to take a quick time out, prep for a nap or to relax your body before sleep (it includes The Cooling Breath).
Download this daily planner to help you add more 1-3 minute rest & relaxation breaks into your day.
It’s getting W-E-I-R-D in here.
How are you doing now that we’re at the mask stage of the Rona Ride?
I’m used to them in the medical world, but it still feels strange to wear them in public.
This whole experience is pretty disorienting. Isn’t it?
As we add covering up with the mask to social distancing, keep in mind you can still connect with others using your eyes and body language.
Some of my stroke patients that I learned the most and felt closest too didn’t speak a word the entire time I worked with them because of their aphasia. We used body language and eye contact to connect and understand each other.
When you’re wearing a mask in public, you can still crack jokes and use eye contact to connect with people especially those with essential service jobs. The stress and fatigue are on the rise in the front lines.
Smile with your eyes. They’re still the window to your soul. Send them some love.
TO MASK OR NOT TO MASK
I know there’s confusion and mixed messages out there on masks, even when some communities require them.
Part of the journey of this pandemic is we have to adapt as we learn more information. Current research shows masks help decrease risk for all by at least 50% (3 ply surgical masks are better than home made).
Wearing a mask is another tool to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable in our community from the virus.
Mask Care 101: Make sure you cover both your mouth and nose with it. And once it’s on don’t touch it with your hands. If you do touch it, wash your hands. Take it off by the ear loops and throw it away.
Yes the Rona Ride is getting repetitive but it’s simple: Wash (your hands), Watch (your distance), and Wear (your mask).
BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Before you mask up, do the dog breath (in your house or car). It’s another exercise to add to your breath work toolbox that’ll help boost your immune system.
Peace & Love,
P.S. Helpful Resources:
Download this daily planner to help you add 1-3 minute rest & relaxation breaks into your day.
Additional Rest Resources
Self-care basics during COVID-19
Surgical Masks: Austin Emergency Supply Foundation provides free masks to small business and those in need. You can buy masks for just yourself or for you + help others get them too.
Best Mask For Glasses (anti-fog)
I don’t know about you but I’m ready for a REST stop on the Rona Ride.
It’s starting to feel like a country song come to life…
Dad’s on lock down (at his assisted living).
Youngest brother’s on the front lines (ER doc in Virginia that loves infectious disease).
I’m on a see saw balancing between two new worlds (the wellness “rest” world from my yoga nidra training and the upside down medical world on the verge of burn out).
Ironically, my yoga nidra training started when the pandemic hit our area.
I'll be honest my Rona Ride stalled out at the end of April when my body screamed "time out" due to poor sleep from stress and the crazy pace of all the almost daily changes happening in the medical world.
I was exhausted mentally and physically.
So what did I do?
I busted open my rest-care tool box which helped me bounce back energy wise.
THE BEST MEDICINE IS REST
There has never been a better time to listen to your body and give it what it needs.
Right now besides your basic hygiene, social distancing and using the latest CDC safety precautions, I recommend using as much rest, laughter, and nature as medicine as possible.
I saw a post where someone mentioned they were making turns onto aisles at the grocery store like they were in a haunted house. I couldn’t help from LOL thinking of that even though it’s also sad. Hopefully we won’t feel like that forever.
Find the humor whenever you can right now. It's OK to laugh while you're anxious or sad. It's a #1 coping strategy in the healthcare world. Don’t feel guilty.
Focus on what you can control in your immediate environment. Your self-care comes first then everyone else. The wellness rules are the same as before, but we need to ramp up the calming strategies.
Remember to take advantage of the health benefits of movement and meditation each day. You don't have to go hard core. A little bit helps a lot.
Did you know doing something synchronized like singing with another person is right up there health wise? Our bodies intuitively know this. Think of all the TikTok videos or the clapping each day in NYC and Italy for health care workers.
Go ahead and bust out the karaoke or your favorite dance moves a few minutes a day. Sing and shake your body to keep the energy and emotions flowing.
I know you’ve got cabin fever. Go for a drive. Go outside and soak up some sun. Get near water or trees. Move your body. But then I still want you to REST, REST, REST.
This is a marathon not a sprint. Our bodies heal and get stronger at rest.
REST & RELAXATION SELF-CARE TOOLS
Here are some free rest and relaxation tools to help calm your body & brain:
Download this free 5 minute rest meditation for better sleep. Use it to take a quick break, prep for a nap or to relax your body before sleep.
Free Meditation Apps: Calm, Head Space
Tapping (EFT) is a combination of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology that sends calming signals to the brain. Here are some free resources:
The Tapping Solution free coronavirus stress and anxiety meditations: go here
The Tapping Solution has 6 months free membership for health care workers and first responders: learn more here
Tapping with Brad Yates on YouTube: Coronavirus
Rest is medicine!
P.S. Working from home for the first time? Don’t forget to take mini movement breaks for better focus & less stiff muscles. Download the Mini Moves Planner to help your body feel more energy, ease, and flow each day.
Need some immune boosting tips? Here’s the Healthy Traveler Packing List from an oldie but goldie blog post on nutrition and exercise resources to add to your self-care practices. They're good year-round not just for travel.
Find COVID-19 self-care basics & resources here.
One of the things I love about Pilates, Yoga, and Qi Gong is the emphasis on the breath work.
They all teach you how the breath is where it all starts. It controls everything. How you heal. How you feel. How you move.
And there are so many breathing exercises out there that can give you different results.
You can change the way you breathe so that it calms your nervous system, to turn on your nervous system before or during activity, to boost your energy, to loosen muscle tension, and/or to decrease anxiety and overwhelm.
It’s fascinating how something so simple can make such a difference in your body and mind.
Put your hand over your heart and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat a few more deep breaths.
Did that release some tension in your neck? Do you feel a less overwhelmed? How about more grounded or centered?
You can use this breathing exercise anytime you feel like life is spiraling out of control. It reminds you that you DO have control.
One breath can change everything. Your mood. Your energy level.
And as they say you've gotta feel it to heal it. Breath work will help you do that.
Having a variety of breathing exercises in your self-care tool box will help you manage stress, fatigue, and pain to perform and feel your best each day.
Here is another breathing exercise for you to try that will help you release STRONG emotions: The Ha Breath*.
Some of us were taught that it's not OK to express strong or negative emotions (i.e. anger, sadness) and they get trapped in our body. This technique will help you release them.
Not to get too woo woo on you, but it'll also help you center yourself by combining both your masculine and feminine energy so you’re in a more peaceful place.
THE HA BREATH
Remember…baby steps, my friend. All is well.
P.S. Want to feel more energy, ease, & flow each day? Download this free daily planner that'll help you pick out a few self-care mini moves so you can find your groove.
*FROM THE BOOK: Daring To Rest by Karen Brody who learned The Ha Breath technique in a Sierra Bender workshop.
Mollie Miller, PT