Are you mired in a pit of Covid Anxiety? Does walking through a store unmasked give you the willies? Much of the world is still rehabbing from the clutches of Covid-19. States have opened up. Yet, even though we have left behind the facial protection and six foot distancing the inner nervousness may still be lingering.
Let’s face it, we have spent nearly two years living in fear about this virus. We’ve hoarded food, locked ourselves away, and watched as hundreds of thousands of Americans have passed away. As a cardiologist, I have seen it up close and personal. Just a few weeks ago, I had three relatively young patients in their forties and fifties die on ventilators in one weekend. I was shocked and dismayed.
I’ve also had to cope with the anxiety of my patients. Many of them are afraid to come in for office visits. It’s challenging to explain why I need to see the legs and listen to the lungs of patients I follow with congestive heart failure. Yet, fear can cloud the rational thinking of people.
Sandee LaMotte’s recent CNN article, Anxious As We Transition Out of the pandemic? suggests that we need more compassion towards other people as we collide with different view-points (mask vs no mask) about dealing with this pandemic.
We Need Compassion for Ourselves
I would take this a step further and say we need to learn to give ourselves more compassion. Anxiety can be debilitating. It can sap our energy and skew our thinking. Work becomes challenging when anxiety rears its ugly head. Yet, we can’t stop working or living. Life demands that we lean into even the most difficult times. So, we need to give ourselves some space. Allow yourself to be ok with the panicky feelings you are experiencing. They might feel awkward or even mortifying but you are not alone. Many millions of people suffer with anxiety. So, give yourself a break, and if you feel yourself losing control stop and take a breath.
Stop and Take a Breath
An easy and effective skill for coping with anxiety is to stop and take a breath. I teach a technique called Power Breathing.
It’s a simple skill to learn and quite effective for stopping anxiety in its tracks. The skill consists of inhaling through the nose two short inhalations and one long exhalation. Next, you exhale forcefully two short and one long exhalation. You’ll want to open your mouth and on the last exhalation forcefully push all the breath out of your lungs.
The skill can be done anywhere. It might seem embarrassing to do it at work, but if you need to you can escape to the bathroom. Hide in the bathroom stall. Three to four minutes of utilizing the technique is often all it takes to cauterize anxiety.
Open Your Heart
Another skill I would suggest for dealing with Covid 19 anxiety is what I call learning to open our hearts. What do I mean by this? An open heart is a heart that is vulnerable and giving. An open heart is supple and emotionally soft. It’s easy to live our lives behind a mask of self-protection. Being shielded in this way feels safe, but it can block the flow of love. Dean Ornish, M.D. one of the pioneers who helped discover that coronary heart disease could be reversed, fostered the importance of an open heart for healing the heart of real illness. See his book, Reversing Heart Disease.
The Sufi’s the great lovers of the Divine have been teaching techniques for heart connection and opening for over fourteen-hundred years. No religious affiliation is necessary, and they can be utilized by anyone. I believe they are the most effective way to lessen any anxiety. They can also promote a feeling of calmness and inner tranquility. See my FREE audio training The Heart Connection Meditation. It’s an easy way to overcome anxiety and lessen the fear of Covid Anxiety.