Breathing Technique: Calm Coronavirus Fears

By: Viktoria {Vika} Ter-Nikoghosyan

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my daughter in France, where she is an exchange student, all was well, and there was no sign of the Coronavirus.

Then everything changed, for everyone…

Today, it seems the entire world is on quarantine. While this is a time for us to slow down and simply BE. The reality is everyone’s lives is impacted given the shock to the system: social distancing, social learning, events cancelled…

The situation is fluid as we all enter uncharted waters. The magnitude of this pandemic is hard to understand, especially for kids and teens. We know we are all in this together. The life of every single person on the planet is impacted by this.

During such times, the first thing to do is figure out a way to stay calm, and flexible to adjust to the constantly changing circumstances. What can we do now, what solutions do we have? We all respond differently, some people do not change their behavior until forced to. Some panic, stocking their homes with all sorts of supplies, we have all seen the recent news about the toilet paper shortage. Some try to find balance: cautious but calm. Whatever you do, the fact is we are facing unprecedented change that we cannot control.  On top of that, we do not know how long this pandemic will last nor what the implications are.

So, my question to you is:
How do you feel? Whatever you feel is it what you want to feel? How would you like to feel and act? For some people, it helps to write these feelings down or talk them through with someone.

If you feel good and balanced, then this post may not be for you. However, if you are feeling worried, concerned, or anxious because of the many unknowns then you may find the rest of this helpful. If you would like to take your feelings under the control here are 4 steps that are proven to be very useful to stay calm and resourceful.

This is how our thoughts process goes when we face a problem.

Step 1. When we face an issue especially when there is not enough information and the situation is unfamiliar we get anxious and stressed. The first step is to acknowledge this and recognize how we feel.

Step 2. Then, naturally, out of survival instinct we think what can go wrong, all possible bad scenarios go through our minds. If we get stuck on this step then anxiety is guaranteed. The important thing is to go through this step quickly, acknowledge what a potential “worse case scenario” could be, but don’t fixate on it.

Step 3. I believe that everybody has an experience when you were able to overcome a bad situation. Allow yourself to recall this situation. When you remember, your mind will start to think of potential solutions. It is very effective to first remember that good time, go into that wonderful state and only then from that positive, resourceful state start looking to find solutions for your situation whatever this pandemic brings. It could be having the time to read a book, learn a new recipe.

Step 4. After you find solutions you can calm yourself down with the technique I developed for normal anxiety. Start with paying attention to your breathing. Breathing has a very profound impact on the way we feel because it can easily change the neurochemical “cocktail” in our body to make us feel differently. Most of the time during stress, an anxiety or panic attack, we breathe faster than usual, and that change in breathing changes our body’s neurochemical composition by releasing stress hormones to help us cope with the alarming situation. When the alarming situation is an imaginary one and there are no actions to stop the process, that stuck state feels like anxiety.
You can get the process under control by slowing your breathing down to a normal rate.

The following exercises can help you relax and achieve that normal breathing rate by, (1) switching our brains from the emotional part to the rational thinking part, and (2) changing our mode from fight-flight-freeze mode to its opposite: relaxation mode. In a relaxed state, you can think about how you want to feel.

Here is the simple three-step breathing technique:

• Look left, breathe in through your nose while counting backward from 6.
• Then hold your breath for a count of 7, count backward.
• Look right, exhale completely through your mouth, while counting backward from 8.

While looking left, straight, or right, you can either turn your head or keep it still and move only your eyes, whatever is comfortable for you.

Repeat until you are calm enough to go back to your normal activities. Most of the time it takes one to four rounds of this type of breathing to start calming down.
About the author: Viktoria {Vika} Ter-Nikoghosyan, PhD, is a Personal and Professional Vika_2Development Coach and Hypnotherapist who has learned from many of the best in their fields. Before becoming a coach, she had several successful and lucrative careers that have led her from a Ph.D. in Biophysics to being an international consultant on organizational development and serving as a consultant to the United Nations.
Viktoria understands trauma from a personal view, having been held hostage in Georgia. Fifteen years ago, she also struggled with grief and depression after losing her best friend. This emotional distress led her to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP™) and hypnosis. Her personal and professional experience has enabled her to help thousands of people in 23 countries to overcome their traumas, anxiety and depressions faster and easier than ever before.

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