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Catching Our Breath

Anxiety and depression are no joke. Between COVID and the season, numbers are on the rise. We want to provide some very basic exercises and information we hope will help you manage your situation to the best of your ability.

In this third part of our Catching Our Breath miniseries, we’re talking about some mental and physical exercises you can utilize to reduce anxiety. There are eight to start with, according to[1]:

1. Slowly count to 10 while picturing a beach or meadow—a happy place, if you will.

2. Accepting that there are some things we cannot control

We know. This is so much easier said than done. We wish that we could control every little thing that comes at us; however, if COVID has taught us anything, it is that we can’t control our environment, only the way we react to it. Without wanting to sound more like a cliché motivational poster with a random person standing on top of a mountain on it, spend some time thinking about your reactions to your day. Take time in the morning to get your head in the right place and set your attitude for the day. Find ways that calm you at the end of the day to decompress.

3. Knowing that your best is enough. No one is perfect and can be perfect all the time.

Another thing COVID taught us is that it is okay to not be okay. And the most someone can expect from you is your best; that is all you have to give, and that is okay.

4. ID what triggers your anxiety

5. Limit the amount of coffee or alcohol you’re drinking.

Again, we know! Coffee gets us going in the AM, and a nice glass of wine or cocktail at the end of the day puts us to sleep. But in excess, these lil helpers can do some serious damage to our heart, liver, and mental health. Your body needs to work together to keep you hustling and bustling; if something is out of whack, it can not only impact how we feel, but our overall health.

6. Eating healthier

Stress eating. My arch nemesis. It feels so good in the moment, but not so great when I try a pair of pants on later. Rude! Finding healthy alternatives to some of your favorites (cauliflower rice, squash noodles, veggie chips, etc.) can do your body some good.

7. Get enough sleep

During the winter, humans can go into a hibernation of sorts, too. We need more sleep than we might during, say, the summer. Keep that in mind when you’re planning your night. Let’s set you up for success.

8. Exercise daily if possible

Getting up and moving can give you time and space to think, or not think, to help you get through your day. If you’re like me and insanely busy, this can be almost out the question. But as the weather gets nicer (for those of you who live in areas that get snow and such), consider getting outside and going for a walk or do some ab workout in bed while you scroll through Instagram. Exercise releases endorphins, stress-busting chemicals in your brain, that can leave you feeling better, no medication required.

Do you have any other tips you’ve tried and found helpful? Let us know below; we’d love to hear them!

Sarah Hixson (she/her/hers) is an emerging curator and educator focusing on DEAI and indigenization work and incorporating activism into museum practices. If you have questions for Sarah, please comment below or send an email to

[1] Amanda Barrell, "5 effective breathing exercises for anxiety and how to do them". June 2, 2020.

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