What can we do in these very troubling, unstable and fearful times? Each day that subject comes up either in conversation or in sessions with my clients. There seems to be a universal sense of panic and for some, helplessness, in the face of daunting financial drama. I believe there are a number of things we can do, right now, that will help us to stay centered and grounded as the world, or what we thought we knew of it, shifts. For starters, we can breathe. Do it right now. Historically, when we’re stressed we stop breathing or breathe in a short and shallow way. This is a habit many of us developed as children where we would involutarily hold our breath in response to fear or stress. What happens when we do this? First of all, we deprive our brain of oxygen so that we may not utilize all of our brain cells. Second, we cut ourselves off from our voice so that whatever comes out is strained and stressed and we lose our power to effectively communicate. Third, by not breathing deeply, or holding our breath, we disconnect from our very self, our essence, our being and become more likely to react to our situation from an ego or fearful state, unwittingly perpetuating the very atmosphere we’re trying to protect ourselves from.

There’s another thing we can do, after we’ve begun to breathe again and it’s this: we can be kind. David Friedman wrote a wonderful song in the 90’s with that title. The lyrics say, “So many things we can’t control, so many hurts that happen every day. So many heartaches that pierce the soul, so much pain that won’t ever go away. How do we make it better? How do we make it through? What can we do when there’s nothing we can do? We can be kind. We can take care of each other. We can remember that deep down inside we all need the same thing. And maybe we’ll find if we are there for each other, that together we’ll weather whatever tomorrow may bring.” Just one act of kindness, especially if you’re feeling like you’d like to rip someone’s face off, might be all you need to turn your day around. And I think that act of kindness has to begin with ourselves.