B.R.E.A.T.H.E. - Dealing With Stress In The Age Of COVID-19


Our world is riddled with fear and anxiety. Finances. Aargh! How will we pay the rent/mortgage or have money to pay for food when we're out of work? We're lonely and miss the times when we could be with our friends and family. If we have kids, we agonize over what kind of impact the lockdown is having on them, and if we'll survive home-schooling and 24/7/365 childcare. And then there's the very real possibility that we or our loved ones might come down with the virus.

When our brain is hijacked by so many strong emotions, it may seem that there is nothing we can do to diminish our fear or anxiety. Yet, there is a way to manage how we feel. To start, just breathe. Not only physically breathe, but use the B.R.EA.T.H.E. technique, as described below.

Breathe Take three deep breaths, focusing purely on your breath as you inhale (through your nose if you can) on a count of 4, hold for a count of 3, then exhale (through your mouth if you can) on a count of 4. This technique is called a "pattern interrupt." Whenever an anxious thought creeps up, by focusing on your breathing for only a few moments, you will interrupt the pattern of panic or fearful emotions just long enough to calm down your racing mind, and your body's over-active flight/fight response.

Deep breathing relaxes your heartbeat and steadies you so you can get back to constructive thought. You know, the problem-solving variety, as opposed to the "Chicken Little the sky is falling" variety. So, the first step to control anxiety is to take three, slow, deliberate deep breaths whenever the need arises.

Reclaim Your Relationships Reclaim your relationships with your family, your significant other, your children and your friends. If you're with your kids at home, see it as a positive even if they're loud and demanding sometimes (OK, always). Appreciate this "forced togetherness" and view it as a unique opportunity to grow close. The internet is full of ideas and resources that can help you cope with being together intensely under one roof.</