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May 2021 / Style & Wellbeing / by Liz Skone James

Wellbeing: Keep Calm and Carry On

With diaries gradually filling up, it’s understandable that we might have mixed feelings about the return to normality – joy at the prospect of catching up with friends, but unease at the idea of crowds of people. In preparation for life post-lockdown, we caught up with Charlène Gisèle, primal health coach and professional biohacker, to discover her tips for managing stress and anxiety. She says: “The most effective way to keep calm whilst we gear up for re-opening is to look inwards. Here are some practical techniques for doing this.”

Exposure therapy

When it comes to re-socialising, especially around large groups, exposure therapy, whereby you start small and take baby steps to reintegration, is the best approach to avoid feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Choose one friend you know you’ll be comfortable around and have an extended walk in a park. Then incrementally build up to a couple of friends and simultaneously ask yourself if the thought of being around more people still makes you anxious? If the answer is yes, just dial it back until you feel ready to increase the numbers again. This ‘regress to progress’ approach is the underlying principle of exposure therapy.

Body scans to go introspective

A great way to bring about a deep sense of calm is to practise the ancient yogi technique of body scanning and visualisation, where you take a journey in your mind’s eye away from the external world and into your own body. With closed eyes, picture your feet, methodically move up to legs, belly, chest, shoulders and head. Try to go deeper – connect with your blood circulation, hear your heartbeat, feel your breath… This will instantly bring you into the present if you find yourself worrying about the future.

Practise conscious breathing

Learning to do rounds of conscious breathing – where you’re aware of when you inhale and exhale – throughout the day is one of the fastest and most powerful ways to instantly activate the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety. The box breathing technique is an incredibly powerful stress reliever. Breathe in for four counts. Hold for four. Exhale for four. Then hold again for four. And repeat for four minutes or until calm returns.

Immerse yourself in nature

Another powerful tool to help manage your wellbeing is to spend more time in nature. The change of scenery can really help to reduce stress levels as it takes you outside of your thoughts, even for just a short time. Nature can be a challenge in London, but there are parks aplenty and you don’t need lots of space. Just find a patch of grass and take a seat. Or even better, take your shoes off on grass to benefit from the naturally calming effect of ‘earthing’ and connecting with yourself.

To discover more about Charlène’s health coaching services, see charlenegisele.com