Resources for Calming and Coping during the Covid-19 school closings and social distancing
Scroll down for 15 ideas & techniques with specific links
Anxiety is the very normal response many of us are having right now to the fear of illness, the physical isolation from friends and other supports, and the uncertainty about when things will be even close to normal again.
That anxiety is not all bad- it motivates us to do the things that keep us safe (handwashing, social distancing, etc.) We don't want to eliminate it altogether. BUT in these stressful times, anxiety left unchecked can be harmful- disrupting sleep, causing irritability, depression, etc.
Is there any purpose to this anxiety and what can I do about it?
Our human brains have a specialized part designed to scan for danger. When it senses danger- maybe a big barking dog rushing at us- the system triggers a response to try to keep us safe. Our heart rate speeds up, our muscles tense, blood is redirected to our big muscles. We feel anxious and alert. Our body is getting ready to fight or flee. To make things worse, the thoughtful decision-making part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex- can be suppressed while the emotional/fear center takes the lead.
When there's nothing to actually fight or flee (Covid-19), this can show up in anxiety that sticks around. In the case of the pandemic, social distancing, schools closed world we're living in right at this moment, anxiety can turn into headaches, stomachaches, irritability, new fears, anger...you get the idea. It shows up in many not-so-good ways. HERE is a good article explaining the science of anxiety and panic during this pandemic.
THIS PAGE IS ALL ABOUT RESOURCES FOR KEEPING THE ANXIETY TO A MANAGEABLE LEVEL
AND BUILDING LONG-TERM CALMING & COPING SKILLS
Don't wait to try these calming and coping strategies.
Please share any of your helpful coping strategies with me- firstname.lastname@example.org- and I can add them to this page to help others!
What I will NOT be posting here: Covid-19 physical safety recommendations like handwashing etc.
You can get that from the CDC, or the Town of Weston.
Find what works for you. If it helps, write a list of 3-5 of these that you like best-
to have ready when your anxiety steps up and/or to use everyday to stay in the calm green zone!
- The Butterfly Hug is a simple technique that involves bilateral stimulation and the power of touch, HERE is a lovely video to follow along. Also- this woman's voice will calm you even if you don't want to actually try the hug technique.
- Copingskillsforkids.com has many resources for helping kids cope and calm. Some are free and some have a cost. HERE is a recent blog post about Coping with Coronavirus. She has many visuals for different breathing techniques kids might like- I've seen the figure 8 breathing handout in classrooms at HES!
- Katie Morton YouTube video: Learn 7 Ways to Stop Panic has some nice calming tips including #1: Shake it Off.
- Yoga for Teens meditation: This is a nice short meditation done by a teen, for teens.
- For kids: from HeySigmund.com, a Treehouse video,How to calm an anxious brain: Do the Five
- 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise by GoZen
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation video
- Yoga: There are many online Yoga options but one I like is Yoga with Adrienne: Here are a few examples: Classroom Meditation for all ages (breathing focus) and HERE is her Youtube channel with many choices.
- Glitter jars are good for kids and adults and there are many 'how-to's" for creating them.HERE is one how-to you can try..The jars model the "shaken up" anxious or upset brain and the resettling glitter models the PAUSE that can help the glitter jar and people get to calm.
- Heysigmund.com Hand on Heart A powerful way to calm anxiety for kids, teens, adults
- Self Compassion Exercises with Dr. Kristin Neff
- Don’t skip the self-care. From the NY Times, 10 Ways to Ease Your Coronavirus Anxiety: “Everything that goes under the umbrella of ‘self-care’ is essential right now,” Dr. Lerner says. Slow down, engage in healthy practices and try to sustain regular routines that bring comfort and stability. Therapy, conversation, exercise, yoga, meditation and religious and spiritual practices are good starting points, but she suggests also considering the healing impacts of making art, singing, journaling and being useful to others.“While we can’t drive fear off with a big stick, we can learn ways to calm ourselves down and find a little peace of mind. Action is powerful, even if we start with just one thing.”
- Anchor yourself in the here and now. Different things help different people to anchor. A simple thing is to focus on “just this breath coming in, just this breath going out” but anchoring can also be focusing on a simple task- folding laundry, sweeping the porch, brushing the dog, knitting, drawing, cooking- you get the idea. Anything that keeps you from mental rumination and anchors you back in the present moment.
- NPR Shots: Feeling Anxious? Here's a Quick Tool To Center Your Soul This is such a nice one, with Tara Brach's RAIN acronym: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture.
- The Gentle Head Hold shared by Australian Parenting expert Maggie Dent
- 4 Square breathing video: You do not need a video to do 4 Square breathing but this is a nice one that can help with pacing the breath :
- Grounding: 5-4-3-2-1: Grounding is all about anchoring yourself in the present physical moment with your senses. 5-4-3-2-1 is just one example of this. Search grounding techniques for calming and you can find lots of good ideas. A simple way to ground yourself is: Stand up with feet planted shoulder width apart, imagine your feet are rooted in the ground like a tree, take a couple of deep in and out. Now notice what you can take in with your senses- the sound of the wind, the smell of your neighbor's toast, the blue of the sky, the feel of the ground under your feet. You're here.
- Tapping (EFT): "tap" into your relaxation response. HERE is a video from Tappingsolutions.com to explain. HERE (coming soon) is a recording of the webinar Youth Services recently offered, Tapping 101.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation for adults and HERE is one for kids.