Useful Ways to Find Calm Amid Social Distancing

During this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be hard not to succumb to stress and worry.

Day-in, day-out we’re bombarded by news and information about the pandemic. Even as I walk around my local park of a morning, I overhear others talking about the pandemic, the latest news, the limits set by Government, how their lives have changed, and their fears…

The noise lands stuck in our minds and held in our bodies. But we can calm our nervous systems, release tension, find more ease, feel more grounded, and feel less alone while social distancing.

Here’s a small collection of materials to help you take a break and feel calmer throughout the day.


Taking Care of Your Mental Health during COVID-19

by Raimund Alber, Psychologist, Médecins Sans Frontières

I appreciate the simplicity of this short video by Raimund Alber at Médecins Sans Frontières. In 90 seconds, Raimund explains how we might respond emotionally and bodily to the COVID-19 pandemic. And he gives 3 ‘takes’ for relaxing our stressed bodies and minds. Don’t overlook the impact of small things:


Graphic of practicing mindful awareness

Doing these Simple Things Every Day Can Manage Stress

by Seth J. Gillihan PhD, Clinical Psychologist

Seth Gillihan, psychologist, author, and podcaster has a 3-pronged approach to stress management. It involves:

  1. Thinking thoughts that serve us well
  2. Planning to act in ways that match our goals, and
  3. Being open to the present by practicing mindful awareness

There are various things that we can do over the course of the day to help manage stress. The sooner we start, the better advises Gillihan: “The best approach to managing inevitable stress is to make it part of your daily routine, rather than waiting until you’re completely overloaded.”

See his post for a plan for building 6 calming practices into your day from the moment that you wake up to when you go to bed:



Relaxation Techniques Help Reduce Stress

According to Julie Corliss, Executive Editor of Harvard Heart Letter, Harvard Medical School:

“The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response. It’s a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways. With regular practice, you create a well of calm to dip into as the need arises.”

Ways to manage stress include:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Body scans and muscle relaxation techniques
  • Focusing on your breath
  • Progressive muscle relaxation (click here to download brief guide)
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Meditative movement practices like yoga and tai chi
  • Nurturing yourself, and
  • Strengthening your social network

The Feldenkrais Method is another mind-body practice that can help relieve stress by:

  • Quiet, slow movements to quiet the nervous system
  • Breathing techniques to calm the mind, reduce muscular tension and improve oxygenation
  • Developing awareness of our habitual patterns of holding excess tension, and
  • Learning ways to release tension

There are many different ways to use our breath to stay in the present. Try this short (4 min) Feldenkrais lesson, “Feldenkrais and Breathing: Calming Mind & Clearing Emotions”, by Annie Thoe, Feldenkrais Practitioner:


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