It’s Like This Right Now

“It’s like this right now…”

I’m Carmela Bennett, a psychotherapist who specializes in anxiety and trauma. Today I’m going to speak to you about ways to stay calm during the coronavirus chaos and give you a simple practice that really works to help manage the anxiety and stress.

As human beings we are unconsciously hard-wired to seek the 2 things most fundamental to our survival – safety and connection. The current work, financial, and health instability and the isolation of social distancing means we are losing both of those at the same time- it’s a double whammy to our nervous system!

The result is anticipatory anxiety – to try to find safety by figuring out what to do and make decisions by predicting what’s going to happen in the future -which is especially impossible right now when the world is changing every day. The more time we spend in the unknowable future, the more activated our sympathetic/fight or flight nervous system becomes, the more stressed and anxious we start to feel, we can no longer sense solid ground underneath us, and the fear that automatically comes up can feel overwhelming.

When our external world is constantly changing and uncertain, our best resource is to create an inner sense of safety by bringing yourself solidly back into the present. And the most direct way to get into the present is to return to your body, not continue to activate your mind. Since the body only exists in the present moment, it is our most solidly reliable resource to come into the present when shit -I mean stress- happens.

Coming into the present automatically activates the parasympathetic nervous system (the brakes on the car), we slow down on the inside, so are less likely to get triggered into fight or flight by old history or the current chaotic circumstances. The inner sense of safety created enables you to stay connected to yourself, so you can stay connected to others you care about, make clearer decisions, and return to calm even when things are chaotic and uncertain.

I’d like to end by doing a simple practice together that you can do anytime anywhere to bring you back to the present when you start to feel ‘uncalm’.

Anti -Anxiety Grounding Practice:
While sitting or standing, place both feet solidly on the ground, bring your awareness and attention down to your feet, and really feel into the ground underneath your feet. Place one hand on your chest/heart, and the other hand securely on the base of your neck. FEEL into the warmth of your hand over your heart, and your hand supporting your neck – take a deep breath in and then a long slow exhale all the way down through the bottoms of your feet, like there are roots of a tree growing down into the earth.

Repeat to yourself or out loud: “It’s like this right now.”

Allow yourself to rest into the present moment, there is nothing you need to do or think. Sense into the feeling of calm that arises as your body supports you. Practice several times a day and you’ll find yourself able to do this anytime/anywhere, quickly and easily, especially when it’s hard, and you need it most.

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