By Luke McLeod, Founder of Soul Alive
One issue that I don’t think is being given enough attention right now in the media is the impact the Corona Virus is having on our mental health. This virus isn’t just attacking our immune systems, it is also really affecting our mental wellbeing. I’ve never had so many people reach out to me asking for help on how to deal with an increased level of anxiety and stress right now.
Here is a 4 Step process to help if you’re experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety at the moment.
Step 1: Take three deep, long breaths
When we’re feeling stressed and anxious, there’s a series of physical changes that happen to our bodies. This is because it goes into a state of defence and protection and these changes then have a flow on effect to our mental state. Shortening of breath and tightening around the chest region are a few of these. So the first and most important step to take when you’re feeling anxious is to stop, and breathe to open up your chest and lungs.
Three long deliberate breaths is all it takes to settle the nervous system and bring yourself back into balance.
Close your eyes. Breathe in as deep as you can through the nose for the count of eight. Hold the breath for another count of eight and then release the breath out through the mouth for a final count of eight. Repeat this three times.
Step 2: Write down one thing you’re grateful for
Once feeling a little settled, go straight into thinking (or even better, writing down) one thing you’re grateful for. The more simple and basic, the better. What this does is it pulls the brain out of worry and anxiety and forces it to think of something that you’re thankful for in the present moment, right here, right now.
Think about the fact that you have a caring family around you or it could even be as simple as the fact that you have the ability to find any answer you wish at your fingertips. These are all blessings and a reminder to yourself that there is always something to be grateful for.
Step 3: Write one message to a loved one
Next, take a moment to write a message to a loved one or maybe someone you might think is struggling right now too. Let them know that you were simply thinking about them and ask them how they are going? When we put the focus on someone else this takes us out of thinking about our own worries and stress.
Step 4: Try a 15 minute meditation
Surprise. Surprise. I’m sure you knew this was coming. However, I often don’t recommend meditation as the first step people should take when they are feeling quite anxious. Reason being is that there needs to be a release of the anxious energy first, which the above steps will do. Once this tension in the body has subdued, meditation is a wonderful exercise to sustain a calmer state.
About Luke and Soul Alive
Luke McLeod is the founder of Soul Alive, Australia’s first live-steamed meditation service.
The service currently offers 3 x live guided classes throughout the week with each class available for 24 hours after in case you miss a session. The structure is designed to make it easier for people to stick-with meditation all from the comfort of your own home.
For the past 10 years Luke has immersed himself in the study and practise of meditation and mindfulness, including spending several months in India to study.
Want more? Click here for Five Ways To Incorporate More Meditation and Mindfulness Into Your Life and here for How To Boost Your Immunity.