Stay present in times of stress and anxiety

In these difficult and uncertain times of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there is only one thing we can do to feel less anxious and stressed: Stay Present.

Easier said than done though, right?

I’ll admit, things got to me over the weekend. 

And I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only one feeling this way…

A dark cloud of overwhelm and fear appeared out of nowhere.

Just a day or two before, I was looking forward to my daughter’s birthday, excited about a blossoming relationship and the signs of spring were everywhere, bringing nature to life with vibrant splashes of pink, purple and yellow.

Then up popped an insatiable combination of anxiety, fear and stress for the coming weeks that started to eat away at me until I barely recognised the words jumping around in my mind and spilling out of my mouth.

Will I have enough money to be able to feed my family and pay basic bills? Will there be food and supplies in the shops? Will I have the energy to take on this additional stress? Will I be able to cope? What if….? How…? 

Suddenly it all became too much and I needed to retreat. 

In those quiet moments of reflection last night I realised I’d slipped back into a destructive habit; one where I single-handedly decide to take everything onto my shoulders.

As a single parent, I’ve done this for years – feeling like I have to do everything and be everything to everyone. It’s damaged my physical health and well-being and led to irritability, fatigue, mental exhaustion and an overriding sense of wanting to run away to a cottage in the middle of nowhere (or at times a galaxy far far away).

Thankfully, after years of inner work, it doesn’t take long for me to get that lightbulb moment and realise where I’m going wrong. (If you’re not at that point yet I highly recommend starting with The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan.)

As I shared my feelings with someone close, I was reminded that the best thing (the only thing) we can do in any situation is to stay present. 

When this quote landed in my Facebook Messenger inbox, I smiled. 

I breathed. 

I felt a sense of relief. 

I let something go.

And I felt a warming sense of gratitude wash over me.

The practice of staying present will heal you.

Obsessing about how the future will turn out creates anxiety.

Replaying broken scenarios from the past causes anger or sadness.

Stay here, in the moment. – S. McNutt

This quote, together with my friend’s wise words, helped pull me back from slipping into old habits and behaviours and into a more positive energy from where I can sparkle and shine again.

I realised that I don’t have to do everything alone and there is always something or someone available to lighten the load. But you do have to show up and embrace your vulnerability as you ask for help. 

Before going to sleep I set the intention to start my working day today with a meditation by my amazing self-love coach, Katie Phillips. Her ‘I am present’ meditation was the perfect antidote to my temporary blip of darkness. 

Katie’s beautiful meditation reminded me:

  • To breathe. 

Sounds simple but it’s amazing how many of us breathe slowly and shallow when we’re going through a period or moment of stress and anxiety. Breathe deeply, hold and release. Allow yourself to let go of tensions and relax.

  • The past is not who I am. 

In every moment we have the opportunity to leave the past behind and start afresh. Nothing that’s happened before really matters now, only how you choose to be in this present moment.

  • To ask myself which thoughts are of service to me.

When we worry about the future and feel like we’re losing control, that can be scary. But it’s useful to tune in to those worries and notice how our bodies feel. Our thoughts create our reality so if we’re worrying unnecessarily, we create physical change in our bodies. At this point in time we all want to be as healthy as possible, so worrying and staying fearful will not help on any level. 

  • To remember that I AM ENOUGH.

This moment right now is really all we have. So embrace being here and knowing that you are absolutely enough.

‘I am here. This is it. And it is enough.’ – Katie Phillips

Lorraine xx

Katie Phillips has generously offered to share her I Am Present meditation for you to try. Click here to listen.

If you enjoy the meditation, please do pop back and leave your comments below. Thank you. <3

Find out more about Katie Phillips and the School of Self Love HERE.