In a time where the state of the world changes every minute, it’s easy to feel untethered and overwhelmed. It takes so much energy just to simply process not only what is happening now, but also how the Covid-19 pandemic will forever affect our lives.
There is no right or wrong way to deal with this traumatic experience. I personally feel like I handle it differently from moment to moment, feeling calm and grateful one minute to crying and stricken with panic the next. Whatever you are feeling, it is worth acknowledging. Now more than ever, it is a time to be kind and compassionate to others and to ourselves. We can only get through this together by being there for each other.
As we navigate this difficult time, I wanted to provide some useful tips to help you manage stress and stay grounded when life feels like it’s being upended. I’ve partnered with Adriana Ayales of Anima Mundi, an amazing herbal apothecary based in Brooklyn, to offer some grounding tips that I hope will help you. If you found any other practices that have helped you during self-quarantine, please let us know in the comments!
Maintain a routine
In a time where we feel like we have a total loss of control or understanding of the world, maintaining a routine can be an anchor. Your quarantine routine doesn’t need to be overly complicated. It can be something as simple as 1 or 2 things you do every day to maintain a sense of groundedness. There’s comfort in familiarity, and it can also help you stay productive and give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day – even if it was spent in your PJs.
When establishing your routine, be sure to build in time to meditate, journal or generally check in with yourself. Moving your body in a meaningful way is also a great way to deal with stress and release endorphins to help you get through more challenging days. Consider framing your routine around goals vs. actions. For example, instead of setting aside 45 minutes a day for exercise, set that time aside to honor your body. That might look like HIIT exercise one day, a neighborhood walk another, or maybe just some deep stretches.
Give yourself time to find your routine and flexibility within it. What works for you might look a lot different than what works for your partner or what’s being suggested in articles and on social media.
Spend time outdoors
Getting fresh air can make such a huge difference in mood and stress levels. However, I want to stress the importance of spending time outdoors responsibly. I was so disheartened to hear that people flocked to the Oregon coast when the first orders of social distancing were put into place. When you go outside, choose places that aren’t especially popular and don’t have narrow pathways like trails. Be aware of your surroundings and maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and others, and be sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds as soon as you get home.
When you’re outside, take time to notice sensations. How does the wind feel on your skin? How many different bird calls do you hear? What does the air smell like? The Japanese practice of forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, means to take the forest in with our senses as a way of communing with nature and restoring our energy. This practice can be done anywhere outdoors, in a neighborhood park or in your own backyard.
Try earthing techniques
There are several grounding techniques that are rooted in Ayurvedic practices. I’d suggest trying them all and learning which work best for you:
Stand barefoot in nature
By standing barefoot, we literally ground ourselves on the earth. Take your socks and shoes off and stand on the earth, whether it’s on sand, grass, stone or dirt. You can stand in one place or walk barefoot if you feel comfortable, and even dig your toes into the ground. By physically connecting with nature, you are balancing your energy back to homeostasis. There is even research showing that using this technique can improve sleep, reduce inflammation and improve overall well-being.
Place your hand on the crown of your head
This technique can be especially helpful when you’re feeling an acute sense of anxiety or overwhelm, since it can be done anywhere at any time. Simply place your hand on the crown of your head and apply a light pressure for 30 seconds or more, as many times as you wish.
Lie on the ground
Feel your connection to the earth by lying down on the ground. You can do it outside on grass, or inside as close to the natural ground as possible, such as the basement floor of your home.
Sit in sunlight
Whether it’s outside or inside by a big window, exposing yourself to sunlight can help boost your mood and immune system with a healthy dose of vitamin D. Although you can generally get sun any time of the day (depending on where you live), research suggests that the best time to sunbathe is before 10am.
Take a salt bath
Salt baths can be so healing. They help balance your pH, detoxify, ease soreness and stimulate circulation. See my blog post on bath rituals to get my go-to bath blend and other ideas to enhance your bath time.
Hold grounding crystals
I often hold crystals when I meditate and bring a couple with me when I travel. You can also keep a crystal handy, such as in your pocket or in your favorite room at home, so that it’s available when you need it most. Each type of crystal brings different qualities and healing energies, including several that help you deal with stress and feel more grounded, like hematite, obsidian, tiger’s eye, kyanite, garnet and rose quartz. Get my full guide to crystals here.
Give yourself a foot massage
Our feet carry us through our lives. They are also the parts of our bodies that are constantly in contact with the earth, our direct connection between our physical selves and everything else. Self-massage in general can help relieve stress, but foot massages can be especially effective in releasing any blocks that are preventing energy from freely flowing. Watch this video for an example guide on Ayurvedic foot massage.
Meditating daily has helped me deal with anxiety and calm my nerves a lot over the years. You can start small by sitting and focusing on your breath for 5 minutes, and work your way up to longer periods of meditation. There are tons of meditation aids out there, and the app I like to use, Headspace, is currently offering free guided meditations during these uncertain times.
When meditating, I suggest sitting directly on the ground for that body-to-earth connection, or a blanket if that better fits your body’s needs. You can hold grounding crystals, with one in each hand to allow energy to flow. You can also use essential oils that are relaxing, like lavender, ylang ylang and chamomile, or grounding, like vetiver, sandalwood and patchouli.
Do grounding breathwork
Sit on the floor with your legs crossed, or in a position that’s most comfortable to you. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Breathe into your belly, feeling it expand as you inhale. Then exhale, drawing out all the air through your nose. You can complement this with a mantra, such as (inhale) I am here (exhale) I am safe.
Practice grounding yoga poses
Even if you don’t regularly practice yoga, there are several poses that don’t require a lot of experience and are great for grounding yourself. Some examples are:
- Mountain pose (tadasana)
- Child’s pose (balasana)
- Downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)
- Eagle pose (garudasana)
- Legs-up-the-wall (viparita karani)
- Lotus pose (padmasana)
Connect with loved ones
When faced with the unknown, it’s easy to shrink back from meaningful connections in your life as you turn inwards for protection. This natural reaction, coupled with self-quarantine, could make it really tempting to stop reaching out to loved ones or allowing yourself to be vulnerable with others. I know you’ve heard this before, but I think it’s worth repeating: You are not alone. We are all experiencing fear, grief and uncertainty during this pandemic. It’s okay to not be okay. And it’s okay to not be okay in front of others.
During this difficult time, I encourage you to spend time with others. You don’t have to master a skill, or pick a new hobby, or finish a huge project. Just be. And be with others (virtually). I know it can be difficult to talk to someone when all you feel is sadness, but it’s so important to not feel alone, to check in with loved ones and let them check in on you. Spend face-to-face time via a video chat rather than a phone call when you can. So much communication comes through in body language, and it helps you focus and engage in your conversation more than when you multitask during a phone call.
Limit news intake
This rule isn’t exclusive to our current reality, but it’s more important than ever. Getting every update isn’t productive or healthy for anyone. Try limiting your news intake to once a day, and only from one or two reputable sources. And if you feel like you need it, take a day or two off from checking the news and/or being on social media. If you want pandemic-specific news updates, consider getting it directly from the CDC’s weekly surveillance report or from the World Health Organization.
Eat grounding foods + adaptogens
Eating foods that grow underground are known to help center the body and stabilize vata, or energy of movement. In the spring, some grounding ingredients that are in season include beets, carrots, radishes, sweet potatoes, red lentils and mung beans.
I also use adaptogens to bring my body into balance, especially during stressful times like these. You can get my full guide to adaptogens here. Anima Mundi sources indigenous herbs from the rainforests of Costa Rica, creating quality adaptogenic products that I love to use throughout the day. My favorite adaptogens for stress and anxiety are ashwagandha, tulsi/holy basil, reishi and mucuna. Try adding your favorite adaptogens or tonics to the Grounding Rose Mylk Recipe below. I love using the Happiness Tonic or the Adaptogenic Tonic, but feel free to sub in your favorites.
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes.
[Note: This drink can also be made hot. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.]