Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Learn how to move survival energy brought on by the Covid Pandemic in 5 simple mindful practices.
If you were a human on earth in 2019-2021 it is likely some part of these years has attached itself to your psyche. Today is about discharging the negative survival energy that is interfering with our recalibration moving forward. From high political division, to demands for social justice, to global pandemic, to scarcity of food, employment and regular hygiene products, to facing thoughts around how parts of our lives will forever remain altered, it is no wonder the growing number of American’s now diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) has skyrocketed.
Our collective experiences of anxiety are rather appropriate given the circumstances, it was placing us in survival mode, intended to help us maneuver the unknown and fearful landscape ahead. The problem is not in having an anxiety response, that part is an evolutionary function of our nervous system to alert us that something is not right and to do something about it. The problem seems to be us getting stuck in the alarm bells of our anxiety process without direction of what to do about it.
The spectrum of anxiety responses is as vast as the causes of anxiety. Some common signs of unchecked anxiety are:
lack of tracking of objects or details (i.e. if you are constantly losing your keys or your phone)
being unable to read and retain information
feeling revved up
experiencing panic attacks
unable to focus
needing constant distraction or noise around
sensations of impending doom
chronic digestive distress
headaches and migraines
worsening of pain
poor dietary habits
While there is a lot of collective experiencing of anxiety energy and this can help us normalize the situations, there is minimal emphasis in our American media of collectively healing and moving anxiety energy. There is absolute truth in “Anyone would be anxious about this crap” but without a way to resolve this survival state, hopelessness also creeps in.
From my perspective, you will continue to harbor anxious, survival, or negative energy as long as our sense of personal agency to move the anxiety is gridlocked and picking up more evidence as to why we should remain anxious. So this is where I start in moving anxious negative energy:
1. Creating an altered perspective.
The feeling. My anxiety experience is as it needs to be right now to alert me that something is not right and I have enough personal agency to do something about it. I stop fighting or talking away my anxiety, or on the flip-side, dramatizing and constantly retelling my woes.
Ask Yourself. In order to play any game you have to see the playing field, as it is without adding anything to it or taking anything away from it. Can you start getting a read on how you experience anxiety now, in your mind, your body, your emotions, your soul, and your connection with yourself, others, and the planet?
2. Learning how to exhale.
The feeling. Common anxiety signs and symptoms include: Feeling nervous, restless or tense. Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom. Having an increased heart rate. This is why many of us experience nausea during higher bouts of panic. Anxiety biologically causes us to take in more oxygen to expedite blood flow and movement.
Exhaling. The goal is to take the fuel away from the anxiety, and oxygen is that fuel. So we focus on exhaling. Breathing out fully is a learned response when encountering anxiety, so habitual training is required before this skill will feel automatic. I encourage practicing 3 full and conscious exhales when you wake up in the morning and before bed we go to bed. This is a skill we need to practice in non-triggered states, so it does not feel like we are learning a fire drill during a fire.
3. We do nothing until we are more clear.
Immediate action is not required. Impulsivity is a reaction to survival energy, and any solutions developed in survival mode will produce survival solutions. Impulsive decisions will typically be the most immediate, but not necessarily the most effective, wise or helpful. Unless we are in a state of physical harm, almost any decision can wait at least 3 deep exhales to give us a minute to cross check our proposed solution. A quick question to ask is “where is the fire in this situation?” The majority of our anxiety responses do not require immediate action, in fact this pattern of reaction perpetuates many of the symptoms experienced. So we take 3 deep exhales.
4. We consciously move energy.
The goal. While anxiety energy may have crept in unconsciously, it will need to be moved consciously. The goal is to engage in an activity somewhat familiar and more calming for you, and then doing it with a plan to move your anxiety energy. For example if you garden, or run, or enjoy showering, or listening to music with your headphones, or reading, it’s about doing one of these activities for 3-5 minutes with the single intention of only focusing on just the activity at hand.
Practice stilling the mind. Of course other thoughts will try to creep back in, and that is why this is a practice of stilling your mind on a single point of focus using whatever activity you choose. Daily practice of conscious focus moves the automatic thoughts out of the driver’s seat of your brain and allows us to insert personal agency around the narrative that occupies our minds.
The misperception. There is a huge misperception that this can only be done in an hour long lotus position meditation, and so a lot of us do not even try to tame our thoughts. The point is to pair what can be a not-so-fun practice of focused attention with an activity you already kind of enjoy. You are also welcome to try new activities for this energy moving practice in any 3-5 minute increments you choose.
5. We set an intention.
Set a point of focus. Our anxious brains simply need another point of focus to interrupt our anxious thought patterns. Instead of leaving it to chance. An intention is like a lighthouse for our energy to focus on amongst the storm of thoughts we may have. It is always easier to see and focus on the lighthouse the calmer the seas are, and thus why we want to proactively engage in intention setting as close to the start of our day as possible, typically before our thoughts get more congested with anxiety.
Intentions are short and sweet, and about what energy you want, not so much about how to get there. Examples are:
I choose to feel grounded today, I am existing with ease, I choose my vibe, and/or I am grateful for this new day.
Revisit your intention. You are welcome to revisit your intention anytime during your day, and I encourage it when old unhelpful thought patterns start to creep back in. We all need lighthouses for hope and guidance during rocky times.
2019 - 2020 might have been an impactful moment in our life. But the negative energy brought on by so many different events during the Covid Pandemic does not define us. Our anxious thoughts are not the problem, they are merely trying to communicate that something is not right and we are being signaled to do something about it. The quicker we receive this communication and consciously address our internal radar’s concerns the more all parts of us trust our abilities to move us to calmer thriving seas. You are invited to choose collective healing anytime and anywhere.
If you or someone you love is struggling with self-harm and/or suicide please error on the side of caution and get help today, via local or national agencies that support suicide prevention in your area or call the national suicide prevention hotline, 800-273-8255.