Staying centered during COVID-19

Courtney Cooper

We have all been thrown into a new landscape of uncertainty and change with the effects of the pandemic affecting every level of our lives. It’s no wonder the cases of anxiety and depression are on the rise in these turbulent times. Mindfulness can help us combat the effects of isolation and abrupt change. Here are a couple of mindful breathing techniques to help keep you centered.

Belly breathing

This breathing exercise is easy and can be done anywhere and anytime you need to calm yourself or focus your mind.

Start by sitting comfortably with your knees bent and shoulders relaxed or laying down with your neck supported, your knees can also be bent. 

Place one hand on your upper chest and one hand below your rib cage right above your belly button. 

Breathe in through your nose, allowing your belly to expand. Your hand will remain gently rested on it. 

Hold your breath for a moment then exhale through your mouth. Don’t force the air out but allow your belly to fall back. 

You can start with three reps of these breaths in the beginning. If at any time you feel light-headed, sit down and rest until that feeling goes away.

4-7-8 method

This method takes some time to master, but with regular practice, it is supposed to be helpful for things such as reducing anxiety, helping you fall asleep faster, and even reducing cravings. Though it may take some time to get it down, the most important part of this technique is to exhale longer than you inhale.

Get in a comfortable sitting position and place the tip of your tongue up against the roof of your mouth behind your top front teeth.

First, exhale to empty your lungs of air

Then breathe in quietly through your nose for 4 seconds.

Hold this breath for a count of 7 seconds 

Now exhale forcefully through your mouth, pursing your lips like you’re blowing out a candle, for 8 seconds.

Start with three cycles of this breathing and you build up to five with practice. If you can’t hold your breath for that long you can begin by doing a modified 3-4-5 breathing cycle. 

I hope these are helpful any of you feeling stressed out. You can also find guided breathing techniques on YouTube if you’d like more information.