The anxiety comes in waves. In between the moments of determined optimism, there’s an uncomfortable sense of dread as underlying feelings of grief rise gradually to the surface. I guess it’s to be expected when so much around us is changing. Everything feels surreal, confusing and unfamiliar since the usual flow of our lives has been disrupted. Naturally, panic sets in because we feel like we have little control over what is happening. So, it’s been necessary to lean into grounding practices and to create soul-nourishing routines for stability as we learn to adjust to a new normal and keep a positive outlook too. Often, our go-to self-care practices and tools for coping are a vital part of self-preservation. They quickly become gentle touchstones that anchor you, helping you to release the physical stress and to restore your inner harmony. Experience has taught me that having a clear understanding of whatever calms, balances and anchors me make it easier to know which resources or activities to reach for when we need it most.

When things feel overwhelming, there is one practice that I’ve found very effective in helping to reframe my thoughts, release my anxiety and guide me back to a more calm and positive space. It’s a four-step process that I’ve taken to calling the “CALM” approach, something that I applied quite a lot period the months after my ectopic pregnancy loss when I was learning to cope with the resultant PTSD and anxiety. The anxiety attacks were really intense in the beginning, but once I got into the rhythm of taking time-out to practice each of these steps then calm set in, the sense of panic started to ease and my bouts of anxiety became less and less frequent.   

Guiding Yourself Back to Inner Calm

When you’re feeling anxious, stressed or overwhelmed, pause for a little while and try out mindfully working your way through each of the following steps:                                     

Connect to Your Heart-space.

Pause. Place your hand over your heart and send some love inward. Remind yourself that you deserve to be loved, nurtured and supported, especially during an overwhelming moment. Check in with your emotions. Take ten deep nourishing breaths. Focus breathing into your heart centre. Visualize inhaling positive calming energy and releasing any anxiety or tension on the exhale. Repeat for a minute or two until you feel ready to move forward in a more grounded energy space. If you like, you can also use the affirmation: “I am calm. I am grounded. I embody inner peace.”

Appreciate Your Blessings.

List 3 – 5 things that you are grateful for. You can make a mental list or write them down in your journal. Gratitude is a powerful tool when it comes to reframing your experiences or shifting your energy in a different direction, especially right now when you’re in self isolation and may be feeling trapped or down about not being able to do many of the things that you love. Take a moment to appreciate the supportive people and good experiences in your life. Express gratitude for your home, your garden, having food to eat and all the blessings that you are able to count during this challenging time. It helps create the sense that your life is expanding rather than closing in on you.   

Look at What is Working, Flourishing and Thriving in Your Life.

Shift your attention to the things that are working right now. Where are you thriving? What is going well? What successes and achievements are you proud of? Whether you are practicing meditation more regularly, keeping up with your at home workout routine, learning something new or you’ve finally manage to complete the 1000 piece puzzle you’d been putting off, allow yourself to honour the things that give you a sense of accomplishment. Acknowledge where you’ve grown. Allow yourself to feel good about it. It is natural to feel fearful of the future when things are so uncertain at the moment and it’s easy to feel stagnant because life is at a standstill. When we give ourselves space to focus on the things that ARE working in our lives, it gives us a sense of forward momentum. Turning your attention to the things that are thriving is a great way to rekindle your sense of hope. It’s hugely therapeutic to meditate on what feels inspiring, what is flourishing and what makes you feel lighter or more hopeful. It doesn’t have to be big things. I’ve found that often, simple things like my relationship with my lovingly supportive husband, fragrant flowers in my home, good friendships, vibrant colours, and my thriving garden easily become a source of daily upliftment that lighten my emotional load.

Meditate on What Empowers You

What makes you feel strong and empowered? What inspired step can you take to help you move forward feeling balanced and at peace? There are always things that fall outside of your control. Take a moment to shift your thoughts towards what you do have control over instead. Focus on one good thing that you can do right now to feel empowered and as though you are moving forward in a positive direction.