Staying sane right now is no easy feat. Between concern for our loved ones and ourselves, coupled with our daily routines being completely upended and the news bringing more dire outlook by the day, it’s no surprise that the struggle is very real. More than ever, we have to tap into our mental fortitude to stay grounded and calm amidst the turmoil. The good news? There are plenty of practices you can incorporate into your daily life to help weather the storm. Here are a few expert-approved tips to just breathe and stay healthy through this tumultuous time.

  1. Remind yourself that everything is temporary.

Change is the nature of life, just like your favorite yoga instructor preaches. Now is time to put that mindset into practice and channel inner zen. “When I feel myself start to panic, I try to talk myself down and see the good things happening because of this,” says Bella Bucchiotti, a lifestyle influencer and LÄRABAR Ambassador.

“People are becoming closer with their families, love is being sent all around the globe, neighbors are helping the elderly folks in the neighborhood. There’s a lot of good out there despite the chaos. We just have to choose to see and remember that.”

  1. Send someone a message to let them know you care.

Make it a daily goal to reach out to one person you haven’t heard from in a while. During these difficult times, we’re sure an old friend or relative you haven’t seen since your nephew's Bar Mitzvah, like several years ago, will truly appreciate it.

“Sending out love energy to someone else can instantly change your state of mind. And the best part is, most people are on their devices even more right now – chances are, you’ll get a response right back,” says Serena Poon, a chef, reiki master, and wellness expert.

She also recommends jotting down a heartfelt note to yourself: “You can make a quick list of everything that is absolutely certain in your life: "My health is fine, my loved ones are okay, I have enough food, my home is my sanctuary, I have access to the internet, all our utilities are unaffected…” Write whatever resonates for you. “Take a deep breath and say these mantras: ‘I am safe. I am healthy. I am strong. I am okay in this moment.’ Breathe and repeat.”

  1. Befriend cold water.

Yes, really. Hot soup may be good for the soul, but freezing cold water may very well be good for your sanity. "Submerging your body into cold water is probably the fastest way to relieve built-up stress and anxious feelings. Athletes do it to reduce inflammation, but it sends signals to the brain as well. No cold tub or pond to plunge into? Cold showers also work,” shares Alden Blease, founder of the plant-based protein bar brand, R.E.D.D. “The point here is to expose yourself to stress/discomfort that‘s much greater than what you’re experiencing inside your mind—to shock yourself out of stress-induced thought patterns." Ice cold showers can be followed by warming yourself by a cozy fire. It's temporary, just like the greater threat swirling around us.

  1. Stay grounded in the present moment.

Like your hippie college roommate always said: What’s here now? Keep repeating the mantra and asking yourself what’s important in the present moment. Naturopathic doctor Dr. Christian Gonzalez, Naturopathic Doctor, and Non-Toxic Living Expert says, “We are not machines but ultra-complex beings governed by various layers. In my opinion, the most powerful medicine that exists is self-awareness. It has become a habit to ruminate in pasts that have already occurred and futures that do not exist.” If you have trouble rooting in the present, try Headspace which is currently offering free guided meditation tracks designed to guide you through the current coronavirus crisis.

“Understanding that life unfolds from the now moment will offer both mental and physical benefits,” continues Gonzalez. “Remember, chronic stress states are poison to the body in so many ways. Take 10-15 minutes today to fully engage in a usual activity, see how you feel. That feeling is called mindfulness.” Whether that activity is cooking, cleaning, or organizing your pantry (sigh, #quarantinelife), you can do all of these things with a heightened level of awareness and grace to help you connect to yourself—and your calm.

  1. Be grateful for what you have.

Harrowing moments like these make having a gratitude practice paramount. Whether you jot down a list of things you feel lucky to have (running water! A good book! A text from an old friend!) or check in with a family member or friend to review each of your gratitude lists, this crisis presents an opportunity to embrace gratitude to the fullest.

“There is so much to learn from ALL of this, and perhaps a silver lining will be that a MAJOR shift is taking place. We can choose to see it as positive...or not. I believe the earth is healing. I believe our human connection is growing stronger,” writes raw vegan writer and activist Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram in a recent Instagram post. “I know we will all appreciate our health and freedom even more than ever before.”

  1. Bake cookies.

And repeat. Follow the lead of gluten-free and vegan recipe guru, Andrea Hannemann of Earthy Andy and enter the “cookie quarantine challenge.” Our mouths are already watering at the photos of these gooey, chocolate-flecked delights. “[For the time you’re baking], let go of any stress and uncertainties you might be experiencing and get lost in every single chewy warm chocolatey bite as it melts in your mouth! There's a lot going on and when stress is taking over sometimes the best thing to do is check out, even if it's for a moment,” writes Hannemann on Instagram, announcing the challenge and sharing her recipe.

  1. Listen to music that makes you happy

Music makes the world go round and our minds feel better. Whether it’s saying “Alexa, play WQXR” the moment you sit down at your desk or carving out time each evening to watch old concert DVDs, be sure to find time daily for music. Poon shares one outlet she’s particularly been loving:  “I’ve really enjoyed the posts shared by the Global Citizen account in their collaboration with Chris Martin in an effort to support the World Health Organization with their #TogetherAtHome movement,” she says.“They have artists going LIVE and on IGTV doing 20-minute segments and performing our favorites songs. It gives such feel-good vibes to watch them in their authentic space, singing off-the-cuff for a beautiful cause.”

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