The world is holding its breath. Waiting, wondering, fearing.

Uncertainty about the future has never felt so intense.

Unable to know what to believe, what to trust, who to trust.

An endless stream of updates, fake news, misinformation feeding the fear and the panic, Keeping the nervous system wired in permanent flight or fight.

Indecision, contradiction, selfishness, selflessness, brave leadership, cold cowardice, generosity, greed, love, fear, connection and isolation all jostling for our attention all at the same time.

We were not prepared for this. As individuals, as a society.

The world is tense, fearful and worried. I know I am

Tension, fear and worry are a natural response to what is happening. They are, to an extent, helpful. We are all more vigilant about personal hygiene. We are more considerate of not interacting with others unless we have to. We are looking out for those around us who we can support and help.

But tense, worried and fearful is not a good state to remain in.

I don’t mind admitting, I’m there a lot of the time at the moment. I might have the tools, but I am human. And prone to stress and anxiety anyway. I live there a lot.

conscious breathing stress depression amit rayAnd then I remember to breathe. And in that moment, I find peace. It might not last long, particularly when I return to social media or the news. But as long as I keep my breath slow, deep and conscious, I can find some peace. I can relax my body. I can calm my mind.

Now, more than ever, we need to remember to breathe. To let go of that breath, fear and anxiety we are holding onto, as individuals and as a collective.

Stop for a moment, and drop into your body.

Relax your shoulders. Loosen your jaw. Straighten your back.

Release the breath you are holding inside you. A long, slow exhale to let go of all that tension, all that fear, all that worry. Feel the stress leaving your body and mind.

Feel your lungs emptying completely. Keep exhaling until you feel that you can’t exhale any more. Then see if you can release just a tiny bit more.

Then allow. Don’t force the in-breath. Allow it to come. When you release the air inside your lungs, when you let go of what you don’t need in this moment, nature intervenes to give you what you need next. Surrender to that gift of nature. Allow your lungs to fill themselves. Feel your abdomen and chest expanding as you fill every space inside the lungs. And when they are full, take a moment to find gratitude for this breath, and release, empty and let go again.

Anytime you feel the anxiety rising in your body and mind in the midst of the current situation, or at any other time, for any other reason, remember you can always come back to your breath.

Whenever you can consciously slow and deepen the breath, you can release the tension, stress and overwhelm in your mind and body in that moment.

We don’t know what the future holds. We never have. This brings that timeless fact of life into sharp focus.

You cannot control the future. But you can take control of how you are reacting in the present. Worrying endlessly about the future, while maybe unavoidable at the moment, suffocates the possibility to find moments of peace and joy in the present. It harms your mental and physical health, and that can have a direct impact on your future.

So be vigilant. Be informed. Be safe. But try to let go of overwhelm and fear as your constant companions, and remember to breathe.