Whew, we made it y’all. 2019 was a doozy for just about everyone I know. It was hectic, emotional, and downright exhausting for many of us. 2020 though… 2020 is filled with so much hope, love, and conscious self-growth. In numerology 2020 = 4. This represents the neutral mind, which is a place of balance. According to many astrologers, this is the year that the universe really has our back, so to speak. I invite you to make the most of this. Focus on finding your balance and bringing more intention to your life. Your emotional and mental health will thank you.
No, I do not mean a bubble bath and a book and a face mask (although I also recommend those, because when was the last time you tapped into your inner child and just enjoyed some bubbles in your bath? It is awesome and fun, and you should do it.) I mean day to day stuff that is easy to forget or lose focus on, have you had a meal in the last 4 hours that nourished you and helped your body feel good? Have you had enough water? When anxiety acts up, one of the quickest ways to turn off our fight or flight response is to make sure our basic physical needs are taken care of.
It is easy to forget, especially with a hectic schedule and other people/animals/plants to care for to actually care for ourselves. So set up a schedule for yourself that includes setting time for yourself to eat, sleep, drink water and take care of your basic needs. I promise you, you will feel better.
I use my phone, I set timers on things, reminding me to eat lunch, to drink water… I set one for the evening where all the apps I could get sucked into for hours into the night are turned off. I force myself to put the phone away and read until I am ready to fall asleep. The little things help create a structure for the big things and next thing you know you have a whole routine that supports making sure you are showing yourself a whole lot of love.
2. Connect with Your Community
Humans are social creatures, there are variations for each of us of on how much social time we need, but we all need other people to interact with, communicate with, support and be supported. So if you are part of a community go connect with it! If you aren’t, find one… which can be easier said than done. Some tips: go do things you are interested in. Like the sound of that dance class, that yoga class, that art class, what about that volunteer opportunity? Go check it out! Does the festival you saw sound interesting? Get a ticket! Go to things with regularity and talk to other people, invite them to lunch, or coffee or another activity, get to know them one on one and in the group setting… soon you will find that you have a whole community! Regardless of what community you are in or want to be part of, connection is important, so get out there and connect, I believe in you!
Our breath is directly tied to our emotional state. When we are stressed or on high alert our breath increases, becoming rapid and short, which in turn perpetuates our panic response. One of the biggest tools from Kundalini Yoga I have used in my fight against anxiety is left nostril breathing. I invite you to try it.
Sit up straight (on the floor, or in a chair, with both feet planted on the ground, you can even do this in bed if you want, laying flat on your back) with your right hand block your right nostril so you are only breathing through your left nostril. Try and make this a deep breath, concentrate on breathing into your belly and fully exhaling, try it for a few minutes and notice your physical and mental responses as you do this. This type of breathing helps your parasympathetic nervous system relax, which helps turn down your body’s fight or flight response, allowing you to relax physically, which in turn can help calm your emotions.
As yogis, a great Kundalini Yoga class is always important, but I would also suggest you also try to just go for a walk and concentrate on slow breathing, or breathing with your steps (also known as breath walk). Dance, sit down and stretch, or just do some yoga in your house. When anxiety rears its head for me, I find it most helpful to tune into my body through dance. I turn on some music and dance around my room, I let my body move in any way it wants, without judgment, without worry that someone might think I look silly and just move.
Connecting to my physical body has been an important part of not living in a place of anxiety.
5. Say No
This can be a really hard one, especially for those of us that are people pleasers. But do it, I dare you. Watch how it changes your life. Say no to helping that friend and go to a yoga class. Say no to your family that says you have xyz obligation and make yourself a cup of tea and read a book. Say no to overextending yourself in 2020 and focus on filling your cup.
You cannot take care of others if you are dead, or as good as, and being a people pleaser will eventually kill you. So try saying no to everything for a week, then try it for a month, realize how much you can do for you when you are not trying to always and forever put everyone else first. Try saying no and then putting your desires and wants first. It sounds selfish, and it is, but being selfish is not a bad thing, it is necessary if you are going to live for yourself and from that place of feeling good about you being able to serve others.
6. Practice Gratitude
This one seems like another internet troupe, but I promise it works. I read a book years ago where one of the character’s whole thing was that his mama had taught him to give thanks for 5 things before falling asleep every night. Ever since then I have been trying to do just that, and I notice a huge shift in my mental wellbeing when I remember to do it regularly.
So I invite you to find a way to focus once a day on the things that you are grateful for. Some days it will be small things, everyday things, things that are simple or taken for granted, and some days it will be big things or things that feel big on that day. Whatever it is try and be specific, eg. I am grateful for this beautiful, warm apartment with its clean white walls and large windows and all the plants I have hung in them. While saying this I mentally picture the space when it is cleaned up, and I feel good about the state of it. It allows your brain to make neural connections that focus on the good things in life, which in turn allows us to handle the tough stuff a little better.
The Meditation for Emotional Balance, also called Sunia(n) Antar, is a simple Kundalini Yoga meditation that you can do any time to help bring your self into a state of balance and wellbeing. It’s an especially good meditation for women to practice because it balances the elements of water and air – but men can also definitely benefit from this practice. This meditation is a great choice for times you may be worried or upset and feel like throwing a temper tantrum.
These are just some of the ways I have found more peace in my life. I invite you to try them for you, or to find some other things that work for you. The important part is that you take some time in your life, everyday, and do something for yourself, something that feels good in some way, that is just for you. You cannot show up in your life if you are burnt out, exhausted, cranky and angry. Sometimes we are at a point in life where it is hard to break out of the burn out, but taking little steps everyday to care for ourselves is what helps to keep our heads above water and eventually allows us to thrive. So, dear reader, go forth and thrive. You deserve it!