What are your anchors when you want to feel calm, grounded and more settled? This was the topic of discussion on my latest podcast The SlowDown in which, along with my co-host we talked about the situation in Belgium (where I live, a country on lockdown) and in Canada (where she lives, also on lockdown). Knowing what anchors us is the key to maintaining a peaceful mind and being more in control of our emotions.

Visualise your anchors
The idea of visualising anchors is one I have taken from the children’s author Alison Knowles who works with young and old people, helping them to remove limiting beliefs, fears, phobias, and negative emotions. Alison wears an anchor bracelet which acts as a reminder to switch from a negative emotion to a positive emotion in seconds. Certainly, in times like now with fear at its highest level, we need to explore ways to tap into those positive emotions. Mine have clearly been wondering why I have abandoned them and focused more on the negative emotions. I know my body is feeling it. I can feel the aches in my lower back from the stress and anxiety which is building up. But no more. Disconnecting from our body does not help us to build up mental strength. It only increases stress and anxiety. It’s a fact, and I had momentarily forgotten that, as I am sure many of us have.

So, talking to Alison has been a reminder for me to focus on the anchors that help me stay calm. Alison told me; “As soon as I touch the anchor, it reminds me that I am not lost, that I know where I am going, and at that moment I completely calm down.

Focus on positive emotions
Alison has written a series of books for kids on tackling emotions based on a character called Ollie. Ollie gets to choose how he wants to feel and what superpowers (which are his different emotions) will be best at getting him through his day. It’s a novel idea and one that adults can also incorporate into their daily lives. Yes, our positive emotions can be our superpowers! Because as Alison explains; Everyone can control their emotions they are a part of you and not who you are.

Her anchor bracelets which she sells on her website (www.ollieandhissuperpowers.com) have been a hit with children with one young reviewer saying “It’s like Harry Potter but the magic is real.” I guess that is how I feel with meditation and right now I need more doses of inner peace. This is where my anchors form an action plan because I don’t want to feed my mind with any more negativity. Of course, it is difficult not to check in with the news but for my own peace of mind, I have chosen to limit news checking (once a day is enough) and focus on a clearer and more positive mind. I am doing this with five anchors:

1. Vipassana meditation (which taken from the Buddhism terms means ‘special seeing’ or insight). Sitting in silence you notice what disturbs you – whether it’s a thought, a feeling or a sound. I do this every morning for between 15-30 minutes. Here is one on youtube which guides you with a bell every 5 minutes as a reminder to focus back to the breath.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7oYJZg9nOA­). I often use an essential oil when I meditate, a smell that grounds me such as bergamot or frankincense, or even citrus oils. Smells are very personal and one of the best ways to recreate an anchor to connect back to yourself.

2. 4-7-8 breathing exercise – Having control over your breathing lets you have control over your mind and body as this really helps with anxiety and stress. It entails, inhaling for the count of 4, holding the breath for the count of 7 and exhaling for the count of 8. This exercise is also known as a natural tranquillizer.

3. Movement – whether it’s doing yoga online (www.yogawithadriene.com), impromptu dancing or grabbing my hula hoop which I keep in the kitchen, movement really does lift the spirit when anxiety creeps in.

4. Creating routine – For now, with the schools closed and most people working from home, this is the new normal. So, we have to create a new routine, a new anchor. So, a schedule needs to be balanced with academic time, creative time, quiet time, chore time, free time and fresh air. It’s still a work in progress but we are getting there. It feels rather like home-schooling so a new experience for many people.

5. Positive affirmations – In an effort to put more positivity back into my system I have been focusing more on positive affirmations. One I like to use is a Metta meditation which is a loving-kindness meditation consisting of three or four positive phrases that you say to yourself, a loved one, someone you have had a conflict with and, lastly to the earth. For example: “may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I be at ease.” I can tell you those phrases really do help anchor a calm mind.

You can listen to a Metta meditation on The SlowDown…finding inner peace (in a crisis) with lots of tips and techniques to feel calmer on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5RAh5E0eKkpYcANRziMOhP