Four Mental Health Tools You Need Now During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Facing the COVID-19 Pandemic Challenge

There is no getting around the situation we are in right now. As much as we would like to avoid this pandemic situation and its devastating effects, we can’t. The whole world is dealing with this traumatic event. And most of us have never dealt with anything like this before. On so many levels this pandemic has challenged us to call on internal resources we didn’t know we had. Certainly, it has also pushed us to understand the world and our place in it in a whole new way. And you have options. Here are four simple mental health tools that you need right now, during Covid-19 pandemic, to ease your stress and begin to thrive.

Where to Turn?

What is a human to do? And how can I survive this pandemic? These are the questions many of us have been asking ourselves for the past several weeks, even a couple of months. How to deal with something we have never dealt with before is the task before us. Below are four tools to help us emerge from our isolation. Using these will help us be in a better place, than when this tragedy began.

Some Facts About You as a Human

  1. You aren’t going crazy. Yes this is stressful. But you are resilient and resourceful.
  2. You are stressed. For instance, you have probably felt anxious, worried, depressed, hopeless, confused or angry during this pandemic. And this is normal.
  3.  When you are stressed you go into a flight, fight or collapse state. That means that you want to A. Run away. B., Attack something or someone. Or C., Collapse – curl up and hide. Most importantly, this is just your nervous system doing its job.
  4. Additionally, when stressors don’t go away; you cycle between all of these states; including your “normal” functioning, productive working adult state.
  5. Finally, when you find ways to manage yourself, you can mitigate ongoing stress. This is the good news and why the tips below can be so helpful.

Tips, Tricks & Life Hacks to Support your Beautiful Being

Here are the four tools that you need right now to create more peace, ease and calm in your life.

Tool # 1. Shake, Breathe, Make Some Noise

Above all, it’s important to help yourself achieve a state of calm, peace and flexibility. The last exercise, #4, below will help you do that. First, and just as important, is to release your frustration, anger and angst. And, to do this in a safe, helpful way with out hurting yourself or others. Try bouncing like this:

  1. Stand up and place your feet shoulder with apart.
  2. Bend your knees
  3. Start bouncing up and down gently.
  4. Allow yourself to breathe deeply and make some sound. Making sound is very important to help your muscular and emotional tension release. Start with just an “ahh” or “huh” when you exhale.
  5. Keep doing this for a minute or two.
  6. Pause. Notice how you feel now.

Tool # 2. Stick out your Tongue

Your beautiful face allows you to connect with others. And we rely on other peoples countenance to relate to them. When we are stressed, our facial expression shows it. Sticking out your tongue can release some of this tension. Additionally, we carry lots of tension in our head, jaw and eyes. This carries into the rest of our body heightening our stress response and we get a bit frozen. Our stressed face makes it more difficult to connect with others, as well as for them to connect with us.

Try this. And invite your family and friends to join you. It’s fun and a bit silly. Most importantly, it calms your entire nervous system. And it makes you more relatable. Follow Steps 1 through 5 below.

  1. Loosen up your face by moving your jaw, forehead, eyes lips and tongue around.
  2. Stick out your tongue as far as you can.
  3. Stick out your tongue again, make a big “ahh” sound, make your eyes big, raise your eyebrows.
  4. Relax  your face, by placing your tongue back in your mouth. And then repeat steps One, Two and Three about 2 or 3 more times.
  5. Finally, gently gaze at whoever you are with. By yourself? Notice how your face feels. Notice how your body feels.

Tool # 3. Twist It Out – Wringing Out Your Frustration

At this point, you have calmed down and centered a bit by shaking and sticking out your tongue. Now, it is time to let go of some of the frustration and maybe some of the anger you have been bottling up. Follow steps 1 through 4 below.

Twisting a towel is a simple, effective way to release anger and anxiety.
Twisting a towel is a safe tool to release anger and anxiety.
  1. Grab a bath size towel and roll it up length wise.
  2. While standing; twist it and keep twisting it over and over as though you are wringing out your frustrations. We all have them now! Make a sound – even if just an “ahh” or a “grr”. Phrase like, “stop it”, “go away”, “NO!” are good to. (See below for safety notes).
  3. Keep twisting for a minute or so allowing yourself to feel whatever appears.
  4. Drop the towel. Remain standing; bend your knees while you are standing and notice what is happening in your body. Allow yourself 3 deep breaths.

Tool # 4. Return to you – Grounding Pose

Finally, and most importantly, it is time to consolidate what you have just experienced and return to your center in a powerful way. This Grounding Pose, or Bend Over Pose can be done after doing all of the above exercises. Additionally, it can be done anytime to you need to let go a little and center.

Bend Over Exercise is powerfully grounding.
This simple movement can be done after the first three exercises or by itself.
  1. Now that you have expressed and released some of what has been stressing you and was being held in your body, it is time to return to you in a deeper, calmer way.
  2. From standing, bend over from the waist allowing your arms and head to hang below your waist.
  3. Bend your knees.
  4. Gently shake your head back and forth as if you were saying no.
  5. Let your hands gently touch the floor. If they don’t, it’s quite alright: just let them hang.
  6. Breathe. Inhale -bend your knees an inch more. Exhale – straighten your knees an inch.
  7. Make a sound. Adding an “ahh” or a sigh when you exhale is a good place to start.
  8. Hang out here for 1 to 5 minutes. And when you are ready to stand up do so very slowly, one vertebra at a time.
  9. Remain standing as you check in with yourself. What are you noticing in your body? Finally, in what ways do you feel different from where you started these exercises?

You’ve Got This! Keep Going!

These simple tools are yours now. Put them in your COVID-19 Pandemic Survival Kit. Take them out daily. Share them with your family. The more you can safely release and express those stuck emotions and muscular tensions the better! The more grounded and connected you are to your body and emotions, the more in control you will feel. What remains unexpressed and unnoticed, comes out sideways, usually with those whom we are closest to.

Additionally – Some Practical Notes:

  1. Making sound. It’s important in a household with others, to tell them what you are doing prior to experimenting with “ahhs” or specific words. Others in your house need to know you are doing this for you and not expressing something to them.
  2. It can be challenging to use your voice to express pent up energy. Many of us are uncomfortable with this practice at first. Therefore, take it slow.

These 4 Tools You Need Right Now are Yours! Own Them!

In these challenging, traumatic Covid-19 pandemic times, you can use your tenacity and resilience to not only survive and thrive. Using these simple and powerful tools can support you and your family. Everyday you may feel like your on an emotional roller coaster. Don’t give up. Be gentle with yourself.

Christine J. Harris, M.S., L.M.F.T., C.B.T.

Christine J. Harris, M.S., L.M.F.T., C.B.T.

Christine Harris is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Bioenergetic Therapist in Littleton, Colorado. Her specialty is embracing all of you: body, mind, and spirit in the therapy process. She has extensive post-graduate training in Bioenergetic Psychotherapy, a body-centered form of counseling. Contact her about your life’s adventures, misadventures, and desire for a more vibrant life. Email: [email protected] Phone: 720-727-2500.

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