I opened my eyes and popped out of bed.
My heart was racing, and I felt sweat on the back of my neck. I peeked over at the alarm clock and it read 3:30 a.m. It had been a dream. My heart started to come back down to its normal rhythm, and I took a deep breath.
I had been in quarantine for 15 days, and had anxiety dreams for the last eight nights. The dreams disrupted my sleep, and worse, the anxiety crept into my days making it challenging to get anything accomplished. I worried I was getting sick at the slightest sniffle. I stressed if I was going to lose my job. I had no idea how I was going to grow my in-person yoga business. Everything felt hard and there were moments throughout the day where I simply couldn’t breathe.
I had always dealt with anxiety. It was why I had become a yoga teacher and Reiki master after all. I knew the tools to calm anxiety, but I wasn’t using them. I was too stressed by everything happening in the world—my health, my future, the stability of my job—it felt overwhelming and consuming.
That morning, I decided no more. I was going to stick to my practices that I knew worked and manage my anxiety. I’ve been strangely calm ever since.
I’m here to spill the beans on how I’ve managed my anxiety since that day. I’ve worked with the root chakra every single day from day 15 to 65 of quarantine. The root chakra is our sense of safety and security. It is meeting our basic needs. It is also tied to money and our survival.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our survival has been threatened. Jobs lost. Health uncertain. Our way of life rocked. I don’t mean to sound like a Debbie Downer here, but really it’s been something, hasn’t it! There isn’t anyone who hasn’t been impacted in some way.
The good news is that we can work with the root chakra to calm our anxiety even if our circumstances stay the same for the next few months. It was so wonderful when I started integrating these practices into my day. I’m not going to lie—I was militant about it. I practiced every day without exception to ease my anxiety.
Here are my four tips to balance your root chakra to ease anxiety:
Get out in nature.
I’m not kidding when I say that getting a daily walk in has been a game changer for me. Feeling my feet ground into the earth and breathing in the fresh air brings me back to the present moment. It reminds me what is truly here, right now in my life, and all of my worries melt away. I’ve gone on walks every single day, even if it is just a quick walk around the neighborhood to feel that sense of peace.
The way we speak to ourselves is important, so I started speaking to myself kindly. Each day I would write an affirmation down like “let go” or “I am safe and healthy.” I would leave these on Post-it notes throughout the house, and I’d say them to myself as I walked around my apartment. When I would start to become anxious, I would glance at my Post-it note and read the affirmation again. The repetition is what makes it stick, and what makes us start to believe it.
I didn’t cook much before this pandemic, but now I find it peaceful. Cleaning up the dishes is still not my favorite, but cooking, I’m enjoying. What makes cooking so grounding to balance the root chakra is that we are present in the task and taking care of our basic needs. We all need to eat! Cooking for ourselves is tending to that part of us that wants to feel safe and taken care of. It also allows us to slow down because cooking takes time.
Seated meditations are so grounding. They allow us to train our brain to go back to one thing, over and over. So when those anxious thoughts pop up that say, “I’m not safe!” or “What’s going to happen in the future?”—we instead say, “No, we are going back to focusing on the breath now.” It’s a powerful skill and free for anyone to access. Meditation reminds us that we’re safe in the present moment and invites us to come back to it again and again.
In this trying time, anxiety has swept in suddenly and without warning. I come back to these practices again and again to come back to myself. To remind me that I am safe. And that my anxiety does not define me.
If you’re looking for a meditation to start, try this 10 minute grounding meditation for instant anxiety relief.