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Woman backbend yoga pose
Wellness
Published Friday Mar 20, 2020 by Christa Quattrocchi

The "Staying Grounded" Guide to Stress and Anxiety Pre- and Post-COVID-19

Meditation
Personal Growth
Renewal

If you've got those familiar feelings of stress and anxiety coursing through your body right now, you're definitely not alone. COVID-19 and this global pandemic have us anxious, coping with stress in weird ways, a new fear of the unknown, potential bouts of depression, maybe a panic attack here and there... We get it. Times are uncertain, our mental health is taxed, we're doing what we can to reduce stress and anxiety in general, and relaxation has taken a back seat. It’s no secret that stress is proven to weaken our immunity, so now more than ever, it's important to relax, deal with what's happening, and find the coping mechanisms to help you reclaim your mental health and reduce your involvement in stressed moments.

Let's deal with stress and anxiety together and see what we can do to reduce it. Here's how...  

 

Woman Meditating
Tune into your breath. 

A symptom of stress is our bodies entering the very real ‘fight or flight’ mode and feeling under attack physically and mentally. While stress and anxiety are taxing in a number of ways to our mental health, meditation can be powerful in combatting the symptoms and shifting from a state of anxiety into a ‘rest and digest’ mode by simply restructuring the way you breathe. Relax, set a timer for ten minutes, and try one of these simple breathing techniques to ease your day and help you be more productive

1.    Long Exhale Breath   
    ◦    Find a comfortable seat or lay down.  

    ◦    Start with a deep cleansing breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

    ◦    Establish an equal part breath. Inhale through your nose for 3 counts and exhale through your nose for 3 counts. Repeat this for 5 rounds.  

    ◦    Continue to inhale for 3 counts and lengthen the exhale to 5 counts. (You may play with the counts depending on your lung capacity.) 


2.    Against the Grain Breath  

    ◦    Find a comfortable seat or lay down. 

    ◦    Start with a deep cleansing breath in through your nose and out through the mouth. 

    ◦    Inhale and send it down into your belly and pause. Sip in more air to fill your ribcage, pause. Breathe all the way up to your collarbones, pause at the top. Exhale fully. 

    ◦    Take a cleansing breath in between each round. 


3.    Alternate Nostril Breath  

    ◦    Find a comfortable seat. 

    ◦    Lift your right hand to eye level, palm facing you. Fold your index and middle finger down toward your palm, leaving your pinky, ring, and thumb free. Gently place your ring finger on your left nostril. 

    ◦    Start with a deep cleansing breath in through your nose and out through the mouth. 

    ◦    Use your ring finger to close off your left nostril and inhale through your right nostril. Close your right nostril with your thumb and release your ring finger from the left nostril. Exhale through the left side. 

    ◦    Inhale through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with your ring finger and release your thumb from the right nostril. Exhale through the right side. 

    ◦    Continue to alternate from side to side. 

 

Childs Pose Yoga

Strike a (child’s) pose. 

Stress and anxiety are harbored in the upper body, generating tension in your shoulders and racing in your mind, making it near impossible to hone in on relaxation and deal with those stressed feelings and fear symptoms. Finding the security of the body’s foundation is a great way to get grounded and balance out all that accumulated stressed energy that carries your mind up, up, and away into the land of fear, worst-case scenarios, anxiety, and eventual panic attack symptoms. (Plus, it'll help with your post-at-home-workout recovery!) 

Try this sequence of postures that will help you feel nice and sturdy, as well as relieved and relaxed, letting anxiety and stress know they aren't welcome in this space.

    1.    Child’s Pose – Come down to your hands and knees. Let the tops of your feet and toes smooth on the ground and gather your big toes to touch. Either widen your knees greater than hips distance apart or keep them together and sink your seat all the way back to your heels. Rest your forehead on the ground and outstretch your arms forward. 

    2.    Downward Dog – From child’s pose, tuck your toes under, press into your palms, and lift your hips up to the ceiling creating a ‘V’ shape in your body. Keep your knees soft so your belly can sink back toward your thighs. 

    3.    Standing Forward Bend – Look forward between your thumbs and take slow, heel-toe steps up toward your hands. Your knees can stay soft as you let your torso drape over your legs. Feel the four corners of your feet solid on the ground beneath them and let go of any control over your head, neck, and shoulders. 

    4.    Mountain Pose – Tuck your chin in toward your chest. Ground down into your heels and slowly roll up to stand as if you were moving through honey, lifting your head last. Breathe in deeply and crunch your shoulders up by your ears. On the exhale, let them drop down your back. Stand strong and tall through your legs, fan out your fingers like you want to receive a low-five, and lift tall through your chest. Invite in the feeling of standing on a mountain top. You are strong and grounded here. 


 

Girls Hand Writing
Put pen to paper. 

Depression is very, very real. Burying our emotions and not coping with issues can be a lot like not taking out the trash—things get kind of funky for everyone if it sits around too long. While meditation and breathing exercises can replace anxious feelings with relaxation and mindfulness, journaling can be a great way to also move through any anxious feelings you’re holding onto and stay connected with yourself. If you’re not sure where to start, never fear! Try one of these writing prompts and kick anxiety to the curb:

    •    List 5 things you are grateful for. 

    •    What do you normally wish you had more time for? 

    •    Describe your 3 happiest moments of the last week. 


 

Girl Dancing B&W

Groove it out. 

Want to actually and physically shake anxiety and stress out of your life? Turn a potential panic attack into a dance party with yourself. The saying goes, "Dance like no one’s watching...."—because right now, it’s likely that no one is. Press play on this upbeat playlist we created to help you move that energy around. 

 

Bathtub candles book and tea

Turn your space into an at-home spa. 

Baths and facials are ancient self-care rituals. But let’s be real, these luxuries often get cast aside for more efficient ways of pampering like showers and sheet masks. With the gift of time on your side, slip into the tub and go all out with that 12-step skincare routine you’ve been wanting to try. Reduce the overhead lights, light up some candles, drop in some lavender and eucalyptus essential oils to elevate the ambiance, and kiss anxiety and stress goodbye as you sink into the water. 

Christa Quattrocchi Headshot
Written by
Christa Quattrocchi
Acquisition Program Manager
About the author
Christa is a 300hr certified yoga instructor on a soulful journey to integrate spiritual practices, such as astrology, tarot, and pranayama, in her guidance both on and off the mat. She is Mindbody’s resident witch and advertising aficionado. Beyond her credentials, you can find Christa channeling creativity through writing, cooking plant-based goodness, & surfing her home waters in sunny San Diego.
shanila sattar
Wellness
Published Wednesday Mar 17, 2021 by Shanila Sattar

Foundational Steps to Cultivating a Daily Self-love Practice

Self-care
Expert Advice
Personal Growth
Wellness

When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do. 

How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?

As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.

 

Step 1: Learn to set boundaries

Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.

When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:

  • How do I feel without having boundaries?
  • What would I like to have boundaries around?
  • Are my boundaries actual boundaries or am I creating walls in my life?
  • How do I plan to uphold my boundaries?
Step 2: Cultivate self-compassion

In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect. 

Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.

When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:

  • How do I respond to stressful situations?
  • How hard am I on myself?
  • How do I celebrate myself?
  • How do I show myself kindness?
Step 3: Nourish yourself

In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.

Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion. 

When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:

  • How do I nourish my emotional well-being?
  • How do I nourish my mental well-being?
  • How do I nourish my physical well-being?
  • How do I nourish my spiritual well-being?
  • How do I nourish my social well-being?
  • How do I nourish my financial well-being?

That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain. 

If you’d like to try breathwork, mindfulness, or play classes with me, check out these workshops and training sessions that work with your schedule. For other breathwork classes, browse Mindbody.

 

About the author
Shanila is a 4th generation sound healer, breathwork coach, mentor, women’s researcher, and speaker. She is the Founder of AlwaysPlayStudios where she trains breathwork facilitators and sound healers. Her background is in tech, having co-founded an award-winning web agency, and in women’s research, specifically in mindsets, implicit bias, perfectionism, women's health, and societal experiences supported through the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and several universities. She has implemented several health and wellbeing programs in underserved populations throughout the US. Shanila mentors healers on their healing and intuitive wellness journeys. Connect: @shanila.sattar