We are living in uncertain times. COVID-19 has quickly consumed our lives and no matter where you are in the world, you’re likely spending at least some emotional energy thinking about it. People are on edge trying to prepare for, and protect from its impact. Lack of childcare, home schooling, job changes or even unemployment, financial uncertainty, social isolation, fear of contraction, grief from loss of a loved one, etc. There are plenty of options when it comes to things that could be all consuming and it’s hard to feel like we are in control of any of it. The good news is that you can control how you respond to anxiety. One of the simplest ways to calm your nerves is to relax. I know this might seem trite given our current circumstances but truly, learning to physically relax is your ticket to less anxiety. In fact, physically relaxing even helps all our other positive coping strategies to work more effectively. Positive self-statements, thought stopping techniques, meditation, grounding statements, etc., are all more successful when we are physically relaxed!
One of the fastest ways to achieve this is to relax your pelvic floor (think kegel and sphincter muscles). This part of your body is unique in that if you relax it, you automatically relax all the other muscles in your body and within less than 60 seconds you can shift for fight or flight to calm and relaxed. Doing so maximizes optimal brain function as well. Our ability to reason, problem solve, be creative, use all our language skills and more are limited when we are in panic mode. I think we would all agree that while dealing with a pandemic, having all those abilities would be ideal. Here’s one simple way to achieve a relaxed pelvic floor:
- Sit on your hands, palms facing up.
- Feel the 2 boney points of the bottom of your pelvis.
- Now, take your hands and feel the front 2 boney points of the top of your pelvis. Release.
- You now have touch memory.
- Imagine connecting these 4 points with lines to create a square. This is your pelvic square.
- Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor.
- Imagine a square in your mind as you simultaneously allow your breath to get into your pelvic square. Imagine both squares expanding.
- Release your breath and relax all the muscles inside the square to ensure nothing is clenched.
- Repeat as needed.
Consider using this technique whenever you think stress might hit and even in the moment when stress is all around you. In either scenario, this exercise can help. Possible peak times for anxiety include when you are:
- Watching the news
- Home schooling your kids
- Monitoring your symptoms or those of family members
- Calling loved ones
- Obtaining groceries
- Checking your bank account
- Experiencing isolation
- Perusing social media
During this stressful time, it may even be helpful to set up reminders throughout the day on your phone and do a quick check in:
“Am I clenching my muscles?”
“Am I physically tense?”
“Is my mind racing?”
If the answer is yes, take a minute and try the pelvic square exercise!