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Got Coronavirus Stress? Try This 6-Part Stress Relief Practice

If you’re experiencing a lot of stress, anxiety, and fear from dealing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, you’re not alone.

It’s easy to freak out and get overwhelmed. The endless unknowns and rising state of fear make it very easy to contract into anxiety and panic.

However, staying in a state of fear only compromises your health and your ability to make sensible and smart decisions.

Unprecedented stress calls for unprecedented self-care.

To help you take care of yourself in the middle of coronavirus stress, here’s a guided practice to get you started: (article continues below)

Try this practice at home as a way to turn down the volume on your stress and boost your wellbeing. Being resilient and ready for whatever is next is the best medicine you can give yourself and the best way you can support others.

  • Identify where in your body you’re experiencing tension. Notice where your stress is living in your body right now.
  • Imagine that stress as black energy in your body that you collect and get rid of.
  • Gather all that stress into a small energetic ball and then pull it off of you and throw it on the floor.
  • Continue to wipe, brush, and wiggle all the stress off your body until you feel refreshed.
  • Ground your feet into the floor and lengthen your spine.
  • Start taking a deep breath in, pulling the air through your lower body into your belly.
  • Use your arms to mimic the movement of your breath up into your torso. Let the in-breath bring clean, pure, rejuvenating energy into your body.
  • At the top of the breath, slowly exhale and allow your arms to gently fall, allowing your body to soften and loosen as your breath moves down and out your body.
  • Make your exhale slow and pleasant. Imagine all your remaining anxiety and stress releasing as you give your body permission to relax.
  • Hold your breath out for 3–5 seconds at the end of the exhale before starting another round of breathing.
  • Close your eyes if you’re comfortable and begin to visualize a place that brings you comfort. Maybe a beach, forest, lake, or anywhere that makes you feel safe and peaceful.
  • Take a moment to juice your creative powers by letting yourself feel as if you are actually standing there in this beautiful scenery.
  • Imagine the sights, sounds, smells, temperature, and taste of the experience. Make it rich.
  • Allow yourself to absorb the pleasant surrounding and delight in the opportunity to savor this moment.
  • Continue using your imagination to call to mind someone you love and who loves you back.
  • Picture this person at their best, full of joy, happiness, and health.
  • Notice the sweet and warm emotions that arise when you think of this person and how much you care and love exists between you.
  • Place your hands on your heart and start breathing this heartfelt energy into your chest.
  • Imagine a red glowing ball of energy emanating from your heart, growing larger with each breath.
  • Feel your body act as a channel for this love and kindness to pulse through you as you breathe.
  • As a beacon of loving energy, begin to send it out to everyone and anyone who might need a little encouragement or support.
  • As you breathe-in, grow your love and compassion for yourself.
  • As you breathe-out, offer what you can to the world.
  • Recognize the preciousness of life in general and the fragility of our human species.
  • Breathe love from this place of deep interconnectedness and interdependence.

Open your eyes if they were closed and then repeat these phrases out loud to yourself:

  • “I commit to practicing intentional self-care in these times of coronavirus stress.”
  • “I forgive myself for being afraid, anxious, and upset.”
  • “I take responsibility for caring for my body, emotions, and mind, because in taking care of myself, I also take care of others.”
  • I commit to staying connected to my heart and grounded in my love, no matter how upset, stressed, and frustrated I may be.”
  • (Add in any other statements that feel true and important for you.)

Within this stressful situation there lies opportunity. It may be hard to see the silver lining as normal life comes crashing down. But there is hope for good in all this.

For some, the months ahead may be an opportunity to:

  • Slow down.
  • Spend time with those you care about.
  • Get more sleep.
  • Not have to sit in traffic or endure a lengthy commute.
  • Learn how to spend time at home and savor the simple things in life.
  • Give birth to a new way of thinking about what we are all here doing with the precious time we have.

For some, such opportunities may seem out of reach. The more immediate hardships of:

  • Losing income or work.
  • Being stuck in close quarters with people you don’t enjoy.
  • Losing personal savings.
  • Living in fear of everyone around you.
  • Physical pain and sickness.
  • And much more

I don’t want to deny your suffering or take away your anger. This situation is severe and hard.

But staying stuck in fear does not help you or anyone else. You need to take back what is rightfully yours–your sanity and peace of mind.

Regardless of how this is affecting you personally, it is a chance for all of us to look deeply at how we are living our lives. It forces us to examine our:

  • Our addiction to security.
  • Our need for control and stability.
  • Our anxiety with the unknown.
  • Our disconnection from nature.
  • Our ignorance of how deeply we are connected to each other.

Underneath the fear is an opportunity to come back to our basic humanity and goodness, to offer support and compassion for everyone struggling to get by, and to help usher in a new vision of living healthfully in a fully connected and integrated planet.

We all must first evaluate and honor how we feel and who are in relation to the current situation. Knowing where we stand is the first step in taking care of ourselves and a prerequisite for dealing with the wider situation.

Take a moment to process and digest your emotional state. It is just as important for your wellbeing as taking physical precautions.

When you have the courage to recognize and accept what is true for you, you can begin pulling yourself out of fear, anger, and blame. You can shift your focus from fear of the unknown to gratitude for what is here right now.

This is not to say you shouldn’t be upset or angry. Nor is it letting people off the hook for irresponsible behavior.

It is simply choosing to move beyond the anxiety and tendency to withdraw.

Staying stuck in a victim mindset only disempowers you and further diminishes your health.

To borrow the words of teacher Thomas Hübl, we need each other more than ever.

“Although it may often seem we can solve everything alone, now we see that we really need each other and that we depend on each other. The hyper-individualized arrogance must soften into outreach and a way of being more humble and engaged.”

Thomas Hubl, Spiritual teacher

Our capacity to stand in the middle of this complex, ambiguous, and fearful situation challenges us to sit with not knowing.

And it’s hard.

Really hard.

Every time you feel the coronavirus stress weighing you down, practice grounding in your body, being with your experience, feeling all that arises inside, and then asking your heart how to respond.

Your head may get lost in coronavirus stress, but your heart will point you towards what matters most.

This coronavirus stress may disrupt our social systems and everyday routines, but it will not disrupt our heart’s capacity to love. If there’s anything we can hang onto in these times of uncertainty, it is our unshakable capacity to care.

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