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Coping with Dark Clouds: 3 steps to cope with pandemic anxiety

You can ride the storms

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The rain pours down my window as I type this and the autumn leaves that have fallen are drenched.  

They create piles of sodden debris that look particularly forlorn under this grey and miserable sky.  All their vibrant brightness of yellows and oranges have dulled to brown. 

Unlike a few months ago, the outside seems a perfect mirror for the doom and gloom of the news. 

Things feel precarious

Last time we were teetering on the verge of lockdown here in the UK, as we seem to be now, the weather was our surprising friend.

The sun blazed and the sky seemed to be impossibly blue much of the time.  As if nature was offering us a gift each day to help us through.

So it feels that we will all need to draw on something much deeper to cope with this current uncertainty. 

How are you feeling right now?

Our bodies and minds will naturally be gravitating to “what ifs”.  

For me, I can feel resistance to the imposition of restrictions. The “it’s not fair” beginning to kick in.

And also a sense of sadness and regret all over again for the people who I know will suffer the most. People who are already feeling isolated and alone, for whom the ache and weight of it all has already been too much. 

So how can we cope with what’s to come?

Here are 3 small practices to help you to steady yourself:

1. Stay with this moment

It’s so tempting to predict, project and imagine what is coming. When in truth we don’t know. 

Can you pause for a moment and take a breath. In this moment right now, you are safe.  

The breath is an immediate way to shift our nervous system.  It’s the back door to manage states of stress and anxiety.

Slowing the rate of our breathing and taking the breath down to the belly, allows us to activate soothing relief in our nervous system. 

Take 5 slow deep breaths right now:

Notice the air as it enters the nostrils or mouth.
Feel the gentle rise of the chest and allow the belly to expand.
 

“Let the breath lead the way.”

Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation

2. Allow the feelings

Our next habit can be to push away how we feel.  

“I’m fine” we tell ourselves, even while the churning of our stomach or the stiffening of our shoulders tells another story.

Or the opposites and our thoughts and emotions take over and block out everything else.

One way to allow the feelings so they don’t overwhelm you is to connect with the body.  

Close your eyes and just tune in to the sensations you feel right now.  Can you feel your feet on the floor? Your hands in your lap?  Can you feel where in your body most needs attention? 

“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh

3. Stay vigilant for those in need

Looking outwards and helping others is proven to be effective at improving our own mental states. 

Being of service takes you out of the dark and damp corridors of your own suffering. 

So can you reach out to others right now. 

Can you send a message or make a call to a friend, a neighbour, a loved one?   

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do” 

Mother Theresa

One final thing I need you to know…

We’re in this together.  

You’re never alone, even when it feels the hardest. 

Whatever happens, we’ll get through it together. 

Join me to create space

You can join me for free Live meditation on Monday Morning at 7.15am.   
We can guide ourselves back to calm and create a small window to find clarity in the chaos. 

You can register to join us here and you’ll receive a reminder and a  link to the recording afterwards or it also streams live in my free Facebook Community which you can join here.
I’m holding a space for you

If you need some extra support and you’d like to explore how meditation can help, email me and let’s talk ([email protected])

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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