Let's face it - this is a very unusual, uncertain, and unique time. The coronavirus is at the top of every news feed and there's still a lot we need to learn in the coming weeks and months. It's totally natural and okay to feel some coronavirus anxiety and stress. But, let's do something about it.
Here are 5 extremely effective and transformational ways to reduce any anxiety or stress you may be feeling, and replace them with feelings of calm, relaxation and happiness.
Let's dive right in.
1. Wim Hof Breathing
At Aurelian, we've been doing Wim Hof's breath work for three months now and it's absolutely incredible.
You might know Wim Hof as the "Iceman," for the cold exposure therapy he does. However, the basis of his work starts with this breathing method.
- Stress reduction
- Better sleep
- Improved immune system
- Faster recovery from physical exertion
- Enhanced creativity
- More focus and mental clarity
How to do it:
Lie down on a flat surface, facing up. A bed or floor works well. You can put a pillow under your head if needed.
Take a huge breath in (through your mouth or nose) filling up your whole torso with breath, then breathe out fully releasing that breath.
Repeat that 30 times.
On the 30th time, release the breath, and then don't breathe in again - just hold your breath. Allow yourself to relax and melt into the floor. Hold your breath for as long as you can. (You can even set a timer on your phone and see how long you can hold your breath for each round).
When you absolutely can't hold it any longer and your body is needing to breathe, take a huge breath in and hold that for 10 seconds before breathing out.
That is the end of one round.
Do 3-5 rounds.
When to do it:
I recommend doing this in the morning as it gives you a feeling of calm and alertness.
This process can feel very pleasurable and euphoric. Wim Hof says his breathing method is a way to "get high off your own supply." He believes that while the average person breathes enough to survive, they do not breathe enough to really thrive.
Trust me, this method will make you feel incredible and fully alive.
Here's a video with Wim showing you the breathing method first hand:
Breath of Fire:
Another breathing technique worth mentioning is Breath of Fire. This comes from the Kundalini Yoga tradition and takes a little less time than Wim Hof and can produce similar (although not the same) feelings of calm and focus.
How to do it:
Sitting up tall, with a straight spine, breathe normally and start by feeling your belly expand with each inhale and contract with each exhale.
Breath of Fire is powered from the navel point (solar plexus) and the diaphragm is used to pump the navel in and out with each exhale and inhale.
Open your mouth and pant like a dog to understand the diaphragm pattern. Once you have a rhythm, close your mouth and breathe through your nostrils using the same rhythm. Now you got it.
Quicken the pace of the inhale and exhale, but keep them equal.
Begin practicing for 1 minute at a time. When done correctly, your chest will remain relaxed and slightly lifted and your hands, feet, face and abdomen will also be relaxed.
Please Note: If you feel dizzy, giddy, or light headed, slow down your pace and make sure that both the inhale and exhale are of equal duration. Breath of Fire should not be done by pregnant women, anyone with cardiac problems or respiratory infections, or children younger than 16.
Here's a short video so you can see it in action:
2. Epsom Salt Bath
Whether it's soothing aching muscles or joints, calming anxiety and stress, or lifting your mood, epsom salt baths are a simple and inexpensive way to do the trick. You can order these epsom salts off Amazon here.
How to do it:
Prepare a warm bath.
Dissolve 1-2 cups of epsom salt in the bath.
Relax in the bath for at least 15 minutes. Ideally you want to be submerged to the tops of shoulders/base of neck.
Can help with:
Skin irritation and inflammation
3. CBD routine
Whether you use Aurelian products or another reputable brand, the benefits of incorporating a consistent CBD routine can be incredibly beneficial for combating feelings of anxiety or stress.
And we say "routine" because CBD is cumulative, meaning the more consistent you are with taking it, the more effects and benefits it has.
CBD works with something called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a series of receptors that runs through our bodies and is responsible for many of our most basic functions such as: appetite, mood, sleep, nervous system functioning, and immunity among others.
When you take a dose of high quality CBD once or twice a day over the course of a week, the ECS becomes more balanced. That's why people that supplement with CBD often feel a variety of different benefits - whether it's feeling calmer and happier throughout the day, to improved sleep, to reduced pain.
How to do it:
If you're using a CBD tincture, hold a dose under your tongue for 30-45 seconds, and then swallow.
You can also put a dose in your morning coffee, tea, or smoothie. However, holding under the tongue is more effective because it's absorbed better by the body.
Repeat in the evening. Do this for a week and see how you feel.
What to look for in CBD products:
We recommend choosing CBD products that are from US grown hemp, are "full spectrum," and offer third party lab results on the brand's website.
Full spectrum means that most of the hemp plant is used in the formulation of the CBD which makes it more effective. Kind of like getting your vitamin C from a whole orange vs. a synthetic pill.
The whole orange is going to work better because it includes the other vitamins, fiber, and minerals in the orange that work together the way nature intended. The same is true of full spectrum CBD.
You can learn more about CBD in this article we wrote here.
Now that many of us are practicing social distancing by staying home, you may find yourself with some extra time on your hands.
You can use it as an opportunity to develop habits that will not only benefit you now, but also moving forward. The same goes for all of these methods.
But one super transformational habit is meditation. Even just 5-10 minutes a day can have an enormous effect.
Promote emotional health
Can lower blood pressure
How to do it:
There are many different forms of meditation. We like to keep it simple so we do Mindfulness Meditation.
Find a comfortable spot to sit down with your back straight. That can be the floor or a chair.
Close your eyes and breathe normally in and out through your nose.
Begin to put your focus on your breath. The feeling of it going in and out of your nostrils, the way it fills up your lungs and belly, the rhythm of it going in and out. Whatever is interesting to you about the breath, focus on that.
Your mind will naturally wander - that's totally ok and natural. When you notice your mind wandering, just gently bring your attention back to the breath.
Start with 5 minutes a day for one week. And then for week 2 increase to 10 minutes. Set a timer on your phone.
You may be shocked how much your mind jumps around and wanders in the beginning and how difficult it is to keep your attention on one thing.
But the mind is like any muscle, and with more practice you will get much better at controlling it rather than it controlling you. Improving this skill through a simple meditation practice can have an enormous impact on your every day life.
If you'd like to learn more, we recently wrote about meditation here.
There are also some good meditation apps out there. We like Headspace.
Here's a short video showing a mini-mindfulness meditation:
There are no rules to journaling, however, we would recommend handwriting onto paper rather than typing on a computer or phone.
It gives you a chance to disconnect from a screen and also there is a different relationship that happens in your brain when you are physically writing down your thoughts on paper.
We love a stream of consciousness style of journaling where you write for 5 minutes without stopping and let your thoughts just flow out on to the paper. This style can help you "brain dump" your anxieties, stresses, worries etc. and put them into context.
There is something powerful about taking thoughts out of your head and putting them down on paper. It helps contextualize them and removes the power they may have when they just swirl around your head for days or weeks or months.
Other benefits include:
Reduce stress and anxiety
Allow for self reflection
Keep thoughts organized
How to do it:
You can journal as soon as you wake up or whenever you want throughout the day.
There is no right way to journal. Make it your own. Draw things in your journal if you feel like it. It's your private space.
We use MindJournal but really anything with blank or lined paper will do.
If you'd like to learn more, we wrote about the effectiveness of journaling here.
Any other suggestions?
Now we'd like to hear from you:
Which one of these strategies are you going to try first?
We're all in this together, so if you have any other suggestions of things that work to reduce your stress and anxiety, please share them below or tag us on social.
Stay safe and talk to you soon.
The Aurelian Team