This article is part of a series on relaxation techniques you can use to cope with coronavirus-related anxiety. Click here to read part two, three, and four.
If you’re experiencing heightened anxiety due to the coronavirus outbreak, you’re not alone. Half of all Brits said they felt high levels of anxiety related to the lockdown, and more than twenty percent reported low levels of happiness. We’re all experiencing more fear and worry during this crisis, which mental health experts say is completely normal. But how do we cope with our anxiety in a healthy way so we can carry on with our daily responsibilities, like working remotely and homeschooling our kids?
One of the things we’ve been doing to relax during quarantine is meditating in our hot tub. Using your hot tub has a number of benefits on its own. You may experience reduced muscle tension, improved sleep, lower stress levels, and more after a nice long soak. But adding in meditation, which is often used to treat anxiety and has been shown to help people manage negative emotions better, can really help you reign in your worries and achieve a state of calm.
To help you relieve some of your anxiety during this stressful time, we’ve put together a list of four meditation exercises you can do in your hot tub. They’re approachable and beginner-friendly, so even if you’ve never meditated before, you won’t have a problem completing these exercises.
Mindfulness meditation exercises relieve anxiety by helping you stay grounded in the present moment. Instead of worrying about the future, you might focus on a mantra, a nearby object, your breathing, or the sensations you’re feeling to keep your mind in the here and now.
Our favorite mindfulness exercise is something called a body scan. It involves focusing on the sensations that you’re currently feeling to relieve mental and physical stress. Performing this exercise in the hot tub adds an extra layer of relaxation and helps ease aches and pains. The warm water and jets will reduce your muscle tension and soothe your sore joints.
To perform a body scan, find a comfortable position in your hot tub and close your eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths, and start to focus on the sensations you feel, like the warm water on your skin, the buoyancy of your limbs, and the hot tub seat up against your back.
Now, focus on each part of your body and observe how it feels. Start with your head, neck, and shoulder area. Are you feeling pain there? If so, try to relax your muscles and imagine that any tension or stress you’re carrying is leaving your body every time you breathe out. If your muscles are loose and relaxed in the water, take a moment to observe that sensation and notice how it makes you feel before you move on. Slowly work your way down your body until you’ve reached your toes and feet. Once you’re done with your body scan, you can open your eyes, do some gentle stretches, and get on with your day feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Listening to music is a great way to enhance your meditation practice. Music has been shown to relieve muscle tension, release feel-good hormones like serotonin, and lower your blood pressure. Combining calming music with mindfulness meditation techniques can help you achieve a deeper state of relaxation.
Although you can do music meditation anywhere, we like to practice it in the hot tub or bath to get the added benefits of a long soak, like muscle relaxation and pain reduction. We use a waterproof speaker to play soothing jazz and classical music while we follow the meditation exercise below.
Once you’re seated in a comfortable position with the music turned on, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then, turn your attention to the music and try to focus on it completely. Think about how the song that’s playing makes you feel and allow yourself to get lost in the rhythm. If other thoughts pop up, acknowledge them, but don’t dwell or ruminate on them. The goal of this exercise is to let go of your worries as much as possible and just be.
If mindfulness meditation is challenging for you because your mind wanders too much, you might prefer visualization. It’s a relaxation technique that uses calming imagery to reduce your anxiety. Many people like to imagine that they’re on a serene, sandy beach during visualization exercises, which makes them feel more at ease no matter where they really are. Visualization allows you to transport yourself somewhere else and can give you a much-needed break from your worries and fears during this difficult time.
Practicing visualization in your hot tub makes it easier to imagine that you’re at the lake or river because you’re already floating in water. But you can picture anything that helps you relax, from your favorite coffee shop to a cabin in the mountains.
Before you begin this meditation exercise, make sure that you have a few minutes to yourself and that you’re in a comfortable position in your hot tub. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Start to imagine the scene that you’ve chosen. What do you see? What things do you hear? Are there any scents in the air? Think about the sensations you feel too, like the warm breeze. Using all five senses in your visualization will make you feel more grounded.
Take at least ten minutes to enjoy the beautiful place you’re envisioning and soak up all the sights and sounds. Once you feel relaxed and ready to get out of the hot tub, slowly open your eyes. Whenever you feel stressed, you can visualize this same place to help you feel more at peace.
Right now, we’re all worried about our loved ones, especially if they’re essential workers or immunocompromised. Because we have very little control over the coronavirus, it can be hard to find healthy, productive ways of dealing with that anxiety. But loving-kindness meditation, which involves sending well wishes to your loved ones, may be able to help you cope.
Research has shown that loving-kindness meditation makes you feel positive emotions like hope, gratitude, and love. It also increases your feelings of social connection, which we could all use during this time of isolation. Loving-kindness has even been shown to improve emotional wellbeing and help combat depression and anxiety, so it’s one of the best meditation exercises to try if you need a mental boost.
Before you begin, take a few minutes to get comfortable. Adjust your pillows, turn on the jets at a low setting, and maybe even add some hot tub fragrance to the water to get the added benefit of aromatherapy during your meditation practice.
Start by taking a few deep breaths. Then, think of a friend or loved one who you’re especially worried about. Picture them in your mind and say a healing mantra, like “may you be safe, may you be healthy, and may you know that you’re loved.” Repeat that phrase to yourself a few times and direct it toward the person you’re envisioning, allowing your heart to be filled with compassion and love for them.
You can repeat this meditation exercise as many times as you need to in order to feel relaxed, sending well wishes to a different family member or friend each time. You can even extend positive thoughts to yourself or people you don’t know, like the healthcare workers who are keeping us safe during this crisis.
Although meditation won’t solve all of your problems, it can help you cope with the changes that have occurred in your life because of the coronavirus. Meditation has been shown to help people manage their emotions better, relieve anxiety, and build mental resilience. Practising meditation in your hot tub can deepen its effects and help you reduce your mental and physical stress even more. If you have a hot tub or even a bath, hop in and try out these meditation exercises to calm your mind and improve your focus so you can get on with your day almost as normal.