Fighting COVID Fear (and Breathing Issues) with Mindful Self-Care

COVID-19 Mindful Self Care Practice

COVID has been at the forefront of all our minds right now for several years. As a self-employed mother of three, the coronavirus certainly has had top billing in mine.

One week makes all the difference in the world.

Last week I was a small business owner who already struggled to find enough time in my day to juggle three kids, their three different school schedules, and my own business and personal life.

Enter COVID-19.

This week I am a small business owner without the financial security of a fully operational small business, a mom who must crash course in home schooling my three sons, and an entrepreneur who has to hustle to figure out how to make ends meet when my business has come to a screeching halt. Oh, and I just returned from the hot zone of California, which means I feel the need to self-quarantine for 2 weeks, while I also have a much beloved family member in a locked-down nursing home who is fast declining and I cannot visit.

In short, you are not alone in your feelings of overwhelm. There is so much happening that can make us feel powerless.

We are all under perhaps the most dire stress of our lives right now, from learning to cope under isolation and quarantine, figuring out to make nutritious meals for our families with groceries and access to them being impacted, calming the fears of our children, worrying about our loved ones in high risk categories, and in general, being quite anxious to know – How is all this going to turn out? How long will we have to social distance and self-isolate? How long will we be at risk of coming under fire from this invisible gunman, COVID-19?

I have several *very* high risk family members and friends, so I am not taking these precautions lightly. I am taking the CDC recommendations seriously, and I hope you are too. Together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19. Read the latest CDC recommendations here and know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

But in the meantime, while we wait, how do we cope while fears of financial ruin, not just sickness and death, abound.

Fighting Fear with Mindfulness (& Facts)

Mindfulness can benefit you. Let’s start by arming ourselves with the latest facts about COVID-19. Then let’s build immunity, resilience, & lung power together with this self-care series practice.

COVID-19 Mindful Self Care

Stay up to date on how COVID-19 is transmitted and what we can do to minimize risk. Get more CDC facts here.

Download This! 7 Step COVID-19 Prevention:

Next, I am offering a free, live online class as a way to give back to the community. If you cannot make the live class (see @DrGingerGarner on Facebook to sign up), this post is for you!

COVID-19 Mindful Self-Care: Building Resilience, Immunity, & Lung Power

Yoga is highly recommended to tackle anxiety, stress, depression, and to improve immunity, resilience, coping, and yes, lung strength too! All these benefits make yoga the perfect antidote to COVID-19 anxiety.

The good news is you don’t even have to do the yoga postures, you can just practice the breathwork and mindfulness to reap the benefits of better sleep, digestion, immunity, and decreased stress. This makes the practice accessible anywhere – no yoga mat needed.

The first step in your breathwork practice is to recognize abnormal breath patterns. The only way to know if you are breathing correctly is to understand the four patterns of incorrect breathing.  This is important because these patterns lead to interrupted sleep and send a message of alarm to the brain. So instead of a “rest and digest” feeling, we get a “fear” message. COVID-19 is creating the perfect storm for creating fear, so let’s tackle our fear with facts: If you learn to easily recognize these four abnormal breath patterns, you are well on your way to instantly improving control of your mind-body stress response.

Get comfy – Next, you are going to want to master blanket folding. But don’t worry, if you don’t have these blankets, use a chair and just sit in that, or lay down on the floor, or you any combination of blankets or throws you have around the house. The goal – to be comfortable. Breath practice is NOT a time to challenge the body with some fancy, difficult to sustain seated or yoga posture. Be comfy!

Now you are ready to breathe. Please follow these basic guidelines to structure your practice.

COVID-19 Mindful Self Care Practice

Abdomino-Diaphragmatic Breath – This is just a fancy word for deep abdominal or belly breathing. In my book, I explain it in great detail, but I have also made a video so it is easy to understand. The AD breath is your baseline breath that is absolutely essential for feeling at ease, and also get to sleep or get back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.

Three Part Breath – This breath can sometimes help you master AD breath. It breaks the breath down into three parts, and can help you stop chest breathing, one of the abnormal breath patterns that can really stress you out and cause you to perceive the feeling of pain and anxiety.

Overcoming or Victorious Breath – This breath can help soothe upset digestion, relax a tight throat or shoulders, and improve something called vagal tone. The vagus nerve is a CRITICAL connecting point that dictates everything from how you digest your food, give birth, enjoy sex, sing, and even swallowing and basic speaking. The vagus nerve is that important, and this breath will help vibrate and tone the vagus – which will go a LONG way toward helping you manage stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, and improve immunity and even inflammation.

Bee Breath – This breath can also tone the vagus and do all the great things I mentioned above, especially for those who have a hard time mastering overcoming breath. Bee breath is really simple, all it takes is a kind of “hum-sigh” as you exhale. If you pace your breath to say, 4-6 breaths per minute, which is a 6 count inhale and 6 count exhale, approximately), then the benefits of this breath are even better.

You can make it through all of this COVID-19 Mindful Self-Care practice in about 5’ once you become familiar with this basic practice. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this mindfulness practice, where we will tackle more advanced breathwork!

About the Author

Ginger is a passionate, unapologetic advocate of improving access to healthcare, mother to 3 sons & a 20+ year veteran in Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine in women’s health physical therapy & athletic training. She is the author of Medical Therapeutic Yoga, founder of ProYogaTherapy Institute and most recently uprooted to Greensboro, NC with her family after 21 years of beach living, where they are wildly joyous about their new hometown.

This and all blog posts related to yoga and/or physical therapy on www.gingergarner.com are not a substitute for medical advice and are not a prescription or program for individualized physical therapy. You must seek the advice of your health care provider and, only after a thorough physical examination and clearance, participate in any movement or exercise program.