COVID-19: Staying Healthy by Balancing Stress

Greetings all. I hope that this post finds you healthy and safe from this COVID crisis. I don’t know about you but I find myself going back and forth between calm and concern. I’ve found myself in moments of panic, thinking about my family, my future, my job. Then I worry that I’ll touch the wrong surface at the grocery store and spread the virus to my parents. I wonder how to plan for my future and if now is the time to take out more student loans. And I worry about the restaurant that I work for. I pray that the owners are able to make it through this difficult time of isolation and low cash flow.

Then there are moments when I find myself forgetting about this madness entirely. Like when I go to bed at night. I fall asleep, but have been finding myself in stressful dreams. Only to wake up to realize that it wasn’t real. There are moments of relief before I am fully awake. Only to have the calm be broken by remembering the current status of the world.

It’s unlike any discomfort I’ve experienced before. I’m used to being in a space of uncertainty. The past 10 years of my life have been a rollercoaster of applying to schools, waiting for answers, moving around, traveling a lot, and never really knowing what will come next. But this time the uncertainty is not only that of my personal future but the future of the world as we know it. So what can we do? How do we find solace in isolation and fear?

When we become stressed our primitive minds think that we are in danger.

I hope that you have been informing yourself on how to stay safe during this pandemic. Hand washing, surface sanitizing, social isolation, etc. There are plenty of resources out there to help avoid infection, but I’m not the person to take advice from in that capacity. What I want to address with you today is how to keep healthy by balancing stress.

For years our society has been experiencing what some experts call a stress epidemic. This is because of the fast pace of the world we live in. With a global pandemic added on top of that I can only imagine that the stress of the collective has skyrocketed.

When we become stressed our primitive minds think that we are in danger. Our nervous system is in what’s called a sympathetic state. It signals to our body that we are in survival mode. Stress hormones, like cortisol, are released into our system. There are times when this stress is helpful. For example, if you were to step out in front of a speeding car, the stress hormones that fire are what alert the mind to jump out of the way, keeping you alive. This is an obvious example of the necessity of the sympathetic nervous system, or the “fight or flight” response.

There are other times when we experience prolonged stress and these hormones are being released over long periods of time. Like when money is tight and you are struggling to pay the bills. Or, you’re in an unhealthy working relationship and feel bullied by your boss. Or there’s an unfamiliar virus infecting the world and things are shutting down with no real sense of stability. Sound familiar?

There are tools to manage prolonged stress.

The problem with this kind of stress is that even though we are not in a circumstance where we have to act quickly to stay alive, our primitive mind does not know the difference. So, our body continues to produce stress hormones as a means of survival. There are less of the happy, healthy hormones that we need in order to thrive. This overproduction of cortisol in the body starts to wear down our system. Leaving us more susceptible to discomfort, muscle tension, and disease. Obviously not ideal during a time when we are trying to maintain a strong immune system.

There are moments when I find myself forgetting about this madness entirely.

Worry not, dear one. There are tools to manage prolonged stress. Today I offer you some breath practices that I have learned. These will not only help reduce stress, but allow you to clear energetic stagnation, all while expanding lung capacity. Breathwork, or pranayama, as it is known in yogi terms, is simply the practice of controlling energy through breathing. Each of these exercises benefit the body and mind in different ways. This will all be explained in each of the recorded breath meditations below. Give them a listen and know that you can come back to them as often as you need. (Even post pandemic). I hope that you are able to find some stillness in this time of chaos. Remember to take care of yourself, eat healthy, get outside and feel your feet on the Earth. Engage in activities that bring you peace. Please, please be compassionate toward yourself and others right now. We are in desperate need of some extra love while our Earth is in pain. Wishing you health and hoping for a quick recovery. 

With love of the goddess,

Molly

Anuloma Viloma
Ujjayi
Kapalabhati Pranayama
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