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Armijo: Let’s all take a deep breath

As our community takes precautions from COVID-19, the new coronavirus, we need to keep calm and cool heads. Yes, this is an event that almost none of us have experienced and hopefully will never experience again in our lifetime. Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty right now but we still have each other.

We have a wonderful community that thrives because of our ability to come together to solve problems. It has been proven time and time again that a group of like-minded individuals can overcome any problem they encounter when they work together.

There is more than just washing hands, taking vitamins, and buying mountains of toilet paper to staying healthy. We must stay in a positive mindset as well, specifically, we must stay calm and relaxed when the world is anything but. Our world begins within each and every one of us. It is only our reactions to outside circumstances that cause us to become stressed, worried, fearful, and anxious. When we learn to be proactive instead of reactive, we can take our power back.

The mindset of fear, worry, stress, and anxiety (negative emotions) have all been shown to reduce immunity. This means when we watch the news and react in a fearful manner to this virus, we are actively creating circumstances in which we are more likely to contract an illness. The solution is to create the opposite state of mind, a mindset of calm and relaxation.

When we are aligned in a positive mental and physical state of mind our body will function at its best. This means living in a relaxed manner is one of our strongest defenses against illness. It may seem impossible to find relaxation among the chaos that is currently being portrayed around us, but it is definitely possible.

Relaxation begins first by calming the mind. A calm and quiet mind has been the recipe for success and health for many years. A calm mind is able to solve complex problems and help us overcome just about anything that may be in our way. There have been plenty of stories of individuals who received a terminal diagnosis only to go on to live long and fulfilled lives due to their ability to create a positive mindset. We and we alone have the power to accept or reject what comes into our lives. If you think of yourself as a victim, you will become the victim.

How are we supposed to remain calm and relaxed when things around us seem to be in turmoil? The first thing we need to do is understand that our thoughts have power and to recognize what our dominant thoughts are focused on. Are you focused on this virus? Are you focused on the stock market melting down? All of these things would be points of focus that do not serve our best interests.

We have the power to shift our focus and can do so easily through gratitude. Be grateful for your body’s ability to protect and heal itself. Be grateful for our educated scientists and medical community who are working tirelessly to help end this pandemic. Be grateful we still have goods available at the market, running water to clean ourselves, for our family, friends, and our wonderful community. Gratitude in the face of despair can help to quell our fears and put our minds at ease.

The second thing we can do is to realize that we are all in this together. If you are experiencing fear, worry, stress, and anxiety, understand you are not the only one. It often helps to find others who are going through the same things. The beauty of the internet is it allows us to connect without having to be in the same room. Find others who may be struggling and begin to focus on solutions with them. It has been shown that helping others is one of the best ways to help ourselves when we are feeling down.

Take a deep breath. Breathing exercises allow our body to release toxins along with stress and serve to quiet the mind. Take some time for yourself. Sit in a quiet room and inhale for four seconds, hold the breath for four seconds, and release for four seconds. Throughout this exercise focus on the sound of your breath entering and exiting your lungs — this will help to take your mind off of all those random thoughts. Many people are poor breathers as it is so this is a great exercise for all of us to do daily.

Meditate. Meditation is a very powerful tool that is used to solve problems, cure illness, increase energy, relax the body, and, of course, quiet the mind. Meditation takes practice so do not be dissuaded if you do not get it on the first try. There are many great resources for beginners that can be found online. YouTube has some excellent guided meditations available. Begin with a short meditation (about five to 10 minutes) and once you feel comfortable you can begin to increase the length of your meditation practice.

Find or rediscover your passion. Self-expression is extremely beneficial in calming the mind. So it is a good time to sing or play an instrument. Write your heart out or paint a picture. These actions provide a positive outlet to release stress, build confidence, and tune out the noise of everything happening around us.

Exercise also quiets the mind. A rigorous workout can have a calming effect on the mind and body. However, a meditative practice such as yoga is also very beneficial for calming the mind and working the body. If you are not up to going to a gym at this time, there are some excellent apps that allow you to get your workout in from the comfort of your home.

Get out into nature. Nature is a powerful tool. It is so powerful that eco-therapy is often prescribed in many countries. We choose to live here because we love to be out in nature. So put on your snowshoes and take a little hike, go take a few turns on the mountain, or just walk by the river and let the sound of flowing water, chirping birds, and the squeaking squirrels take your stress away.

As humans, we will survive because we have a will to. As Americans, we will prevail because we are too stubborn not to. As Coloradans, we will endure because our great state was founded on resilience. As citizens of Eagle County, we will thrive because our greatest strength lies in our ability to come together and support each other when times get tough. As with all things in life, this will eventually pass and we will be stronger as a community and as people when it does.


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