Updated: Oct 8, 2020
It was the summer of 2019. In July. Matter of fact, it was Independence Day! It was around 10:15 a.m. and I had just walked home from the gym after a holiday training session to greet my husband who was working in the yard. We rested for a bit on the front lawn and within moments, a loud bang came from the area. We thought it was the nearby base doing its testing. Lo and behold, the earth started to shake and we both looked at each other in shock thinking our minds were playing tricks on us. You see, we have been living in California since 2008. In that year and in the following year, we were in different cities when the earthquakes of a 7+ hit. We have not been through an earthquake together. This time it was different not only because we were together but because our city was the epicenter!
We tried to stand up to get in the house to our son who was still asleep. We are from the east coast and though we've lived here in this state for 11 years, we weren't mentally prepared for it to happen in our community. Before moving here, my husband was informed that this area was considered the "earthquake capital of the state" because of the continuous 1s and 2s. We never felt any of those so we were happily oblivious to consider that they'd never get bigger. At least not while we were living here! Or so that was the wishful thinking.
We got inside to get our son and grabbed a few things to return outside. We remained outside with our neighbors in our shaded yard for 4+ hours while we waited for the earth to calm down. This earthquake was a 6.4 magnitude. Later that afternoon, we prepared our home for the potential of another one coming at the same size or lower.
The next evening, around 7 p.m. our friends in the cul-de-sac invited us to hang out and let the kids play. It was a nice, relaxing evening. The kids were laughing and riding bikes and playing in the street. My husband was inside napping after having not slept the last 24+ hours. We had no idea what would come next.
My friend and I looked at each other in a "oh no" facial expression as the earth started to grumble and vibrate under our feet. We called for the kids to come near and we tried to get out of our chairs. The earth shook violently. The way it shook was SO different than it was yesterday. What I felt on Independence Day was a rolling motion like being on a big boat in the middle of the ocean. This second earthquake, a day later, was not smaller. In fact, it was MUCH larger. It was a 7.1 magnitude! And the earth shook so violently. My family and my friend's family stayed in the middle of the cul-de-sac on chairs and mats until well after midnight.
As you can imagine, the families in our community did not sleep well for the first several weeks following these back to back earthquakes. For my family, we had some minor damage and some broken items mainly from the kitchen.
A neighboring city will have years of rebuilding ahead. In my community, some local businesses and offices along with homes will take some time to get back to our normal (before 7/4/19). With all of this sleep deprivation, a multitude of health concerns can occur. I know for me, I had anxiety (didn't sleep well, stomach ached, heart palpitations, and worries) for about 2 weeks following the earthquakes and the anxiety was triggered with each M3.0+ aftershock! Thankfully the aftershocks have decreased with each passing day but every now and again, we still have M3s and M4s. One way I learned to cope with the earthquakes is that I would stand up and pretend I was on a surfboard!
In general, I typically have good health habits, but somehow these went out the window after the earthquakes, thankfully only temporarily. I was able to reintroduce them to my daily routine and they helped me get back on track and kick anxiety to the curb. I'm sharing them with you in the hopes they'll be a source of aid in your day-to-day activities. As a reminder, I'm not a medical professional. As always consult your practitioner about any tips that you read here to see if they'll be a good fit for your needs and lifestyle.
Here are seven ways that may help you reduce stress, anxiety, fear, etc.
Grace - Extending yourself grace when your routine becomes non-existent is much needed and is a form of self-care. We don't always know what this looks like. Sometimes it just happens naturally because everything is at an unrest and that's the only action that begins the process of getting back in order.
Earthing/Grounding - My usual go-to for reducing stress is grounding or earthing but when the ground was always moving, it was a challenge to put this back into practice. I am usually barefoot but the first week after the earthquakes, I always had my shoes on or nearby in case we needed to get out. Here's an article about it.
Deep breathing - Grounding pairs well with deep breathing. I learned the best way through a T'ai Chi Master a year ago when I was under some stress from a series of dental appointments. How-to: As you inhale, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and then during the exhale, gently place your tongue on the back of your teeth as you expel the air. Tongue placement is key because it really allows you to focus on your breath and be present.
Journaling - Writing down what we are thinking helps us to get it out of our brain and gives us mind space. I keep a gratitude journal that I write in nightly. Some nights the page is filled! Other nights, it may just be a couple of notes. Two things I always write though is 'life' and 'love'.
Support groups/forums - Support groups were created by community members on Facebook that promotes a safe space for people to share without judgment or ridicule. There are tons of forums on social media as well as through a browser search. Some of your favorite bloggers may even have a password protected forum.
EFT / Tapping - If you've ever had acupuncture or know / heard about acupressure points, you may enjoy the benefits of tapping. Tapping is using your fingertips on your own body (hand, head, upper torso). You can find demos on YouTube or find a therapist versed in how to do it that would fit your circumstances. I combine tapping with prayer (a form of meditation) and each session lasts at least 5 minutes, but sometimes has gone for 20 or more minutes. I find a quiet place I can just sit and speak the words that are both plaguing my mind and replacing them with words of peace and joy. I just listen to my body and tap until the negativity has been released and I have a general sense of peace. You can learn more about the practice here.
Supplements - In addition to eating well or as good as possible, sometimes we need reinforcements. For my family, we rely daily on a whole food product that keeps our immune system protected and strong. I could not afford to get sick with all the stress around. Stress depletes the immune system and makes us susceptible to sickness. You can learn about this product on the Extras page.
In addition to the above, during one of the early mornings of unrest, I remembered a product I have used in the past that helped me reduce stress. You can find it on Amazon here. #ad When I remembered it, I dug it out of the bottom of my purse, and took two drops. The normal dose is 4 drops but I find half of a dosage is the right fit for me. It's a gentle, non-habit forming homeopathic remedy developed more than 80 years ago. One of the inactive ingredients is alcohol so this may not be the best fit for everyone. Read the ingredients and make an informed decision about your lifestyle.
In this work of reducing stress/anxiety, it's about finding what works for each of us and then it's just a matter of putting into a daily practice what serves us best.
How do you reduce stress and anxiety? Share below. If you liked these tips, please share the article.
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