Staying Calm In Challenging Times by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

In challenging times when people are bombarded with continually changing information, fear, uncertainty, and inaccurate reporting on social media or other sites, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with information or caught up in the almost panicky response to the news.

While there is a natural tendency to try to amass as much information as possible in these types of situations and times, this is often counterproductive. Instead, this is a time to focus on what you can control, which means taking in reliable information and blocking out all the unnecessary and unhelpful noise.

Staying calm and focused on the critical things in your life that you can control can be done throughout the day.

Breathing to Connect

Pranayama is the term that is used by yoga practitioners to described breathing. It is the focus of most yoga and is essential as part of the class or practice. Breath control is used during poses, or asanas, but also for developing a mental, spiritual, and physical connection between the body, the spirit, and the breath.

Breathing exercise can be done anywhere. Sit comfortably in a chair or lie down and close your eyes. Focus on the breath coming in through the nostrils, and feel it move through the throat and down to the bottom of the lungs, pushing out the stomach slightly on the inhale. Try to inhale for a count of five and then slowly exhale the breath through the nose or the mouth, feeling the movement of the air. The key is to focus your thoughts on the breath, and counting can be helpful to avoid wandering thoughts.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation is a specific practice that encourages people to let go and just be, releasing thoughts, stress, worry, or anxiety. This can be done through mindfulness, but it can also use specific focus points to increase the level of consciousness and clarity. There are different types of meditation practice, but anyone can start by focusing on a specific thing, such as breathing or an object, for a minute or two a day. It is harder than it sounds, but bringing your attention back to the object or the focus is vital to increase your ability to focus and concentrate.

Mindfulness is the ability to bring all your senses to one focus and to be aware of yourself in the present moment. This is an acceptance of what you are feeling, experiencing, and sensing, and it brings a sense of connection, grounding, and focus.

Focus on What you Can Control

An effective way to reduce stress is to recognize areas where you have control and focus your efforts on maximizing these areas. For example, working from home, avoiding large gatherings, washing your hands, and practicing good disinfecting and sanitizing practices in your home and workplace help us to stay calm, focused, and positive about our ability to handle even these difficult times.