Hope on the Horizon: Pandemic Anxiety Management II~

I think this koala is sending a message to you and I about anxiety!

In the midst of darkness,

there is light.

Check out: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8115879/COVID-19-Australian-researchers-CURE-coronavirus.html

Good people are working,

to help.

Countering,

pandemic anxiety,

with realistic hope,

is powerful medicine.

Hope floats,

and flies.

Let’s move on with building our toolbox to manage pandemic anxiety.

ANXIETY TOOLBOX:

Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)

Guided Imagination/Visualization

Exposure Management

Progressive Relaxation

Distraction in Action

Self Soothing

Spiritual Meditation/Prayer

Second Voice

Exercise, Diet & Good Health Practices

We covered the first three in the last post. Here are the next three.

I would love for you to add tools of your own that are, or have, worked for you. With your help we could build a truly awesome anxiety busting toolbox so people can pick and choose what is comfortable for them. If you have some tools that work let me know. It will be helpful to all of us.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation was developed in the 1930’s during The Great Depression which was a stressful time too. It is a systematic method for relaxing your body and mind. It emphasizes muscle tension and release, and is focused specifically on quelling the actions of anxiety on your body and mind. Google it if you want to learn more. Here is a simple example:

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-do-i-practice-progressive-muscle-relaxation-3024400

If you couple this with focus on your breathing similar to what is taught by yoga, and practice both together, you will have really powerful tools to bust anxiety. Here is how to breathe as you tense and release your muscles:

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-do-i-practice-deep-breathing-for-anxiety-3024389

Even if you try these techniques for the first time now, it will help to lessen the unconscious muscle tension and shallow breathing that is our reaction to anxiety. When we are anxious too much adrenaline and cortisol flood our body. This weakens our immune system. Conscious breathing combined with muscle relaxation help us stop stress hormone release and protect our body and our mind.

There are many different progressive relaxation options available online that will lead you through the program. Pick one you like and try it out.

Distraction in action is doing the things that make you, you.

Being true to yourself, engaging in your own interests, hobbies and passions, is possibly the most powerful tool of all. If you have passion and hobbies that bring you joy (you are all bloggers, you have these strengths) these passionate interests can pull you out of bad situations, keep you focused on what engages your best self, and keep you steady in the storm.

Lots of us are home now. This is the time to follow your passions fully, indulge your creativity, and let it help you escape from the noise.

A blogger pointed out to me how important humor is in managing anxiety and doomsday thinking. You can’t laugh and panic at the same time. Humor is a saving grace.

Self Soothing is basically devoting time to provide your own TLC. We normally neglect ourselves. When you are under increased stress, as we all are now, taking time everyday to soothe yourself is critically important. What is self soothing to you? Is it a warm bath, watching a game, playing an rpg, listening to music, cooking, gardening, working out, the possibilities are endless. Make a mental list of what is comforting to you. The more things you come up with the better for you. Make time for these things now, everyday, more than ever.

And remember, turn off the news after you have gotten the gist of it. The bad gets reported, and the good gets neglected. We need to remember to also focus on the good.

Cheers & calm to you, from me, at The Holler~

260 thoughts on “Hope on the Horizon: Pandemic Anxiety Management II~

  1. Cindy, this is an amazing post! I love the techniques you’ve listed. Most of all, those koalas are simply precious! How could we not smile looking at those cuties lounging about?

    I’m a big fan of conscious breathing. It’s amazing how just being aware of the breath in our bodies centers us and melts away anxiety. I’ve been remembering this today, so it’s funny I should see it here in your post as well!

    Prayer is also critical, for me personally. As a believer, I try to remember that I’m not in control of so much. I can only control myself, my actions and my own thoughts. I leave the rest to a very capable God. 🙂

    Thanks Cindy for this powerful reminder. You did a great job, as always. ♥

    • Yes, prayer and spiritual connection are immensely powerful tools in my life as well. There are certain prayers I rely on and when I start to say them, I can feel them instantly start to relax my body. This is my most powerful tool of all and I am glad you have this too. I will talk more about this in my final post on managing anxiety. Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful comments Holly & stay safe 🐨

  2. Thankyou for the tips on staying calm through hard times. My own way of coping is to connect with a living creature. I am thankful each day for Elsa, our little rescue dog. She teaches me the joy in living for the moment while sharing unconditional love.

  3. Thanks for the great tips, Cindy, we do need to pay attention to bringing our anxiety levels down. Laughing has been helpful to me; I’ve been googling vintage SNL, such fun. The internet is making this easier than it would be without it. Loving your adorable koala photos!

  4. I don’t believe in “reblog” mainly because of the style wordpress forces us to use. But I would like to ask your permission to use 1/4 of your blog (text only I will not borrow your beautiful pictures with a link to your blog. Would that be alright? Kind like free advertisement. 🙂

    I think many would profit from your post.

    • How thoughtful of you. I would be honored and I hope it brings people some relief. We need some relief these days. Thank you my friend and be well & stay safe 🐨

  5. “And remember, turn off the news after you have gotten the gist of it. The bad gets reported, and the good gets neglected. We need to remember to also focus on the good.” – Absolutely correct! Plus: I wish the news people here would not use that sensational language and tone. That, to my mind creates anxiety, too. Reporting style should be neurtal and factual. They’re not snake-oil salesmen.

  6. Great message to calm the anxiety about the coronavirus, Cindy! Panicky behaviour does not help. Only a calm and decisive action will solve the problem of the pandemic.

  7. Pingback: Hope on the Horizon: Pandemic Anxiety Management II~ — (Part 2 from Cindy) | Rethinking Life

  8. I am not a worrier by nature but I think since there is so much unknown about the trend of this virus, I just can’t wrap my head around it. In the meantime, my husband and I are actually enjoying our time at home. As long as we get out for a walk every day, life is pretty darn good. I wish I slept as well as that koala, though.

    • Yes unknown consequences are a fundamental source of anxiety. Our brain doesn’t like too much uncertainty and change. It sounds like you and your husband are doing very well. I am glad. Enjoy your walks <3

  9. Wise words, Cindy, and such a beautiful animal. My heart hurts that they are now endangered because of the fires. I am going with humor to deal with this crazy moment in our lives but chillin’ is good too. Keep well, friend.

  10. Thank you for doing your part to calm anxiety. For some time now, I have tried to finish each day by writing down three things that I am grateful for that day. I found it helped me sleep better. Now I find it helps me all day long.

    • You are practising gratitude and you imprint it on your brain before you go to sleep. Good on you! It is hard to be anxious and grateful at the same time. I will include this in part 3 and thank you for sharing it. 🐨

  11. Such good advice and boy do we need it. I wish my husband would take this more seriously, when I start to relax, he manages to come into close contact with people. I’m now down to feeling safe in only two rooms where I can stay away from him! I’m even scared to pet my cat now. I’ll be using your techniques.

  12. “Turning off the news” is probably one of the most important stress busters. Personally, I rarely watch the TV local news, but have watched the international & local news for a short time every night in the last week to bring me up-to-date with the changing situation and health department instructions. Then I turn it off and on to more enjoyable programs.

    My suggestion is to sit outside with your partner or family to watch the sun set each night. I do this 95% of the time anyway and I’m single and lead a solitary life. I’m never up early enough to catch the dawn, but if you’ve never done it before, use 30 mins each morning to watch the dawn and 30 minutes each night to watch the sunset.

    Depending on where you live, most people will find this a good time to sit back and relax with a coffee or wine or herbal tea and just be in the moment, concentrating on breathing, relaxing each muscle as you wind down for the day.

    Try turning off all modern technology for a day. Sit or walk outdoors in nature if you can. Do all the things you never have time for at home.

    Do the opposite of what you normally do. Set yourself a challenge. If you use a computer all day normally, turn off the computer for the day would be a good example.

    • I love all of these. Watching sunsets and sunrises is so relaxing and brings the hope of a new day and a quiet night. Nature is one of my most powerful healers. Being in nature is so important to our mental and physical well being because we such an intricate part of it. It is where we belong. I also like the idea of tuning out of technology and shaking up your routine which could be especially important as we spend more and more days at home. You will see these suggestions incorporated into part 3. I am taking notes. Thank you for sharing them & take good care 🐨

  13. Having my foster cats to worry about right now is actually a nice distraction. They need so much help, and being able to provide some of that is satisfying and leaves me feeling I am doing something good, even with all the craziness around us.

    • Oh, this is a good one which I will want to include in part 3, service to others besides ourselves. Compassion in action helps others and ourselves. Thank you for helping the kitties and yourself in the process. More than ever now we need to turn to compassion in action. Thank you for what you do <3 🐨

  14. Love all the Koalas! They make me smile. I miss just running to the grocery store and talking to people. All my sewing groups have canceled but I’m getting a lot of charity quilts made. My family that was coming to visit had to cancel as well so I’ll use that time to get caught up on chores around the house that needed doing. There is always a silver lining to everything. Stay well too. Hugs from Sleep Hollow. 😉

    • Yes, it unprecedented in our lifetimes and we are old. But we have been spared from ww1, ww2, the great depression, the spanish flu. We had the vietnam war. Now maybe we get they 1 or 2 rolled together. I say we are tough enough to help people survive it. It would be my best guess that you agree. Love to Marlene. Bad times bring out the best in some people, like i know it will in you <3

  15. It is wonderful to read positive and helpful views relating to the crisis we find ourselves in. I trust that enforced innovations are going to arise from this: new ways of teaching, and a return to family values. People may begin to notice their neighbours more, shop with greater care, adopt healthier lifestyles … For years I have dealt with stressful days by recounting at least five things I am grateful for before going to sleep. On the worst days there are five, yet most days there are many more and that puts the ‘bad’ parts into perspective.

    • Yes. I love this practice of gratitude before sleep. It primes your mind for positive dreams. I am glad you have practised this for decades and can well imagine that it keeps your perspective in balance. Thank you & stay safe Anne <3

  16. Beautiful words dear lady. So much so that the Images of the Koala Bear is making me yawn profusely, I just want to lay in a hammock somewhere with the breeze gently blowing and nod off for an hour or so 😂 🤣

    • Wonderful!! I think hammocks were designed by geniuses. There is nothing better than napping in the breeze, unless there happened to be a koala in the tree above, napping with you ♡´・ᴗ・`♡

  17. Aw, just looking at this darling koala makes me smile! Thanks, Cindy. Great tips on how to manage stress during this increasingly stressful time. I’m a BIG believer in being kind to myself — exercise, eating right, getting enough sleep, etc. — as well as staying busy with work and enjoyable hobbies. And praying. Lots of that — it is Lent, after all! Hugs….

  18. Thanks for more good ideas and photos for managing anxiety. My first meditations in my late 20s were the progressive muscle technique and I had some pretty good results. Lately, I use the breathing approach or focusing on my heart. For self-soothing, time in nature is my main tool. Thanks for caring and holding hope and actionable solutions Cindy. Koala hugs… 🐨

      • Talking with my husband tonight he shared how he felt such a special connection to koalas. I had no idea, but spoke about your post and how these little guys are such a powerful way to embrace the quiet and soothing side of us.
        Thank you for being a part of our conversation 💛🙏💛

        • You have a perceptive husband. Why am I not surprised! “these little guys are such a powerful way to embrace the quiet and soothing side of us.”
          This is so true! Just looking at them, puts things in perspective. Thank your husband, and thank you Val. Be safe, both of you.

  19. Just looking at your Koala pictures is the best anxiety help. I could look at them all day and feel good. Thanks for your great advice, keep safe.

  20. This is truly helpful and of course the adorable koala makes me smile, Cindy. I’ve tried to view and read news in small bits, but in GMA this morning, I saw hope as people who were afflicted with Covid19 described their situations and subsequent recoveries.

    • That is wonderful news isn’t it. I think the media has a very hard time balancing their reporting in favor of sensationalizing. Sensationalizing does not help in a crisis. Reading about recovery does. Stay safe Terri <3

  21. Thanks for this post, Cindy! It always amazes me that there are so many different responses to a big disaster or problem. Some run in panic, sure the world is ending. Others try to take advantage of the situation. Others are stressed, but do their best to stay calm and rational. Still others try very hard to find a solution…. And thank goodness for that group, they give the rest of us hope!

    • Yes. You can tell a lot about a person’s core character by how they behave in a crisis. I find it interesting that some people become more calm and more rational in a crisis. These are the people you want to be around. Stay safe & well Anne <3

  22. Yet another helpful tool is implicit in the splendid photos of koalas oblivious to our anxieties.  My yard hosted its own small flower show today, just before predicted rain and warmth will probably end the crocus season. It was a consolation to see plants and critters that do their thing w/o fretting about feckless “leaders” who exacerbated the COVID-19 disaster.

    https://mellowcurmudgeon.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/crocus-bee_crop_sharp_840x628.jpg

    • Yes, nature is our retreat and our solace. We are of nature and being in it is incredibly calming for me, and it seems for you as well. I do think animals may be smarter. They don’t argue about presidents and toilet paper! 😉 Be well my friend and I am glad you have such a welcoming retreat from the noise. ♡´・ᴗ・`♡ I had to come back and add to my reply. I didn’t see your stunning flower photo in my WP reader. It is gorgeous and thank you for sending it to me <3

  23. oh my goodness those Koalas are cuties. We are artists, and as luck would have it we just got commissioned to do 2 24 X 36 paintings. It couldn’t have come at a better time. We also love photography. Only one of us is home right now but the other may follow shortly, and if so there is so much we can do. 🙂 I just followed your instagram. I post our art there. Firewaves21. You should post more photos. Your photography is so beautiful.

  24. Wishing you calm as well, Cindy. Thank you for sharing these stunning photos. I’ll bet cuddling one of these Koalas would reduce my anxiety. Petting the cats or even just having them in the room is calming. Watching the hummingbirds at the fountain is a good stress-buster as well.

    • Nature, wildlife and animals. These seem biologically programmed to make us feel at peace and connected with something much bigger. I will add these to the final post. Thank you & stay safe my friend <3

  25. That’s very great information and tips, Cindy. We already live the most of it in our ‘normal’ life and we still do now😸Pawkisses for a Happy Healthy Weekend to you too🐾😽💞

  26. I wish I could be as relaxed as that koala and sleep like in picture 1. I have been avoiding news like the plague! I saturated my mind with the news one day and had nightmares about my family being afflicted. I now just get news and advice from my office announcements and virtual townhalls. They are not sensational which helps a lot. Stay safe and healthy.

    • I wish I could be as relaxed as koalas too! I am glad you are avoiding news, and finding news sources that are more useful to you. Love to you & take good care my friend. ♡´・ᴗ・`♡

  27. Cindy,

    Over my 30+ year experience of providing therapy (OT in behavioral health and physical medicine settings), as I image you observed too, the concept of defense mechanisms waned in favor of more attitude and action oriented coping skills techniques. While I agree that this general trend has been more practical than wallowing in a Woody Allen movie character, I have certainly noticed folks (clients, coworkers, and neighbors) regressing into whatever their defense mechanism of habit has been. Denial, blaming, picking fights, panic hoarding, isolating, etc. (I know I have my own techniques too, thus am not claiming that my impulses do not exist… and yes, have stocked up on TP and extra feed for our animals). I have been encouraging folks to use more practical strategies: anticipating, contemplation, sublimation. Your words of calm, reassurance, and guidance are appreciated. And, such cuddly photos from your archives! Enjoy spring in your hallow. – Oscar

    • Thank you Oscar. Yes we are seeing a lot of defensive reactions which is understandable since events are stressful. Your farm and my Holler are good medicine. Since food in supply is being interrupted, I am preparing the beds for a more extensive vegetable crop this year and enjoying working outside, planting more flowers too. Stay safe my friend & thank you for your good ideas ♡♡

  28. Sometimes catastrophes bring out the best in humans. For nature. Your heartwarming Koalas and great advice are mindfullness in the true sense. ❤️Stay safe❣️🍀

    • Thanks Cindy, your posts make all the difference 🙂 Just getting the main news and blocking the constant sensationalist news updates throughout the day makes a huge difference to the anxiety levels. Sharing humerous moments albeit somewhat dark humour goes a long way too. And staying out of the supermarkets unless unavoidable!! The state of them recently and the evidence of the obscene greed and selfishness of the human race is soul destroying. A day of work helped too! It’s been a beautiful sunny day and it really helps keep thoughts and anxieties in balance. But just wait till the dark closes in…the nights are the most difficult times for me just now. Roll on the morning light again!

      • I am so glad you find something useful. Thank you for letting me know. And yes, night time makes exacerbates stress. Take heart. You are not alone with this by a long shot. We are all struggling together. I am glad to hear you are limiting the attention grabbing headlines, using humor, and staying out of grocery stores. I am doing all of these things too and they work, and I am binge watching Masterpiece on my kindle eac night. Something to look forward too. Stay safe & take good care my friend (♡´❍`♡)

  29. I had to read your post twice, because I was so distracted by the adorable koala bear photos. But then there was a second treat in your words of wisdom. Thank you so much for this. (And I hope you and yours are doing well.)

    • Thank you for for such a thoughtful comment and happy you enjoyed the koalas. We are doing well so far, thank you, planting spring flowers and vegetables. Good time for a good summer garden. Stay safe & thank you (。・‧̫・。)♡

  30. Hi Cindy, I’m not sure what happened but somehow my following your blog was erased? I don’t know if others have had this problem, but I feel like I have missed important messages from you.
    I am 100% in agreement with you when you say we cannot laugh and panic at the same time.
    I hope our laughter sustains us in this turbulent time.
    Sending warmest wishes always to you and yours at The Holler.
    We shall rise.

    • Yes, this happens to me too. I get unfollowed from people without knowing it and people I follow don’t show up in my reader. It is frustrating. Thank you for reaching out and fixing things. Stay safe and keep on laughing my friend (♡´❍`♡)

  31. Reblogged this on BOOK CHAT and commented:
    This is the second post by Cindy Knoke on stress and anxiety management. Please visit her blog to read her tips. (I shared the 1st post on March 15).

  32. Thanks for continuing this topic, Cindy. I had more than enough challenges to getting myself out of the house before all this started. Between a couple of early (but large) setbacks and this stuff, the scant progress I made when I first relocated is now in the minus range.
    the koala is a perfect spokesperson for calm. Thanks for the ideas and tools. Hugs on the wing.

    • I am sorry Teagan. How difficult and discouraging. Hopefully the light on the horizon will get brighter soon. Hang in there my friend and be compassionate and caring towards yourself. We all are only human and these are frightening days. Love to you my friend ♡♡

  33. Pingback: Hope on the Horizon: Pandemic Anxiety Management II~Cindy Knoke | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  34. A wonderful and refreshing post Cindy, panic has now evolved into anxiety, which gives rise to stress, this then goes on to mental overwhelming. This in itself will become a major problem in the future, particularly the elderly, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  35. Cindy, your words “When we are anxious too much adrenaline and cortisol flood our body. This weakens our immune system” is exactly why I force myself to do this. However, I’m not very successful at it yet. Thank you.

    • You will get better the more you practice. Half of the work you are doing goes unnoticed at first, but it is happening. You are becoming more aware of how stress feels in your body, and the more you do this, the sooner you can start to counteract it before it builds up. This really is the most important, albeit subtle part. დ დ

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  37. Very inspiring Cindy, I have relaxed a bit more when we took the decision to stay at Navasola. Here there is space and lots of natural beauty but anxieties are real as I am concerned for my daughters for different reasons and we have a good friend’s husband seriously ill in hospital with this virus. I am glad we both meditate and do some yoga as this also helps reframe. I think as bloggers we are fortunate to have an outlet and our interests too. I hope we will all begin to value our connection to nature and look to restore it rather than more damage. Cheers to you for cheering me up!

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    • We do have lots of critters at The Holler, but these guys were from our recent trip to Australia where there really are lots of interesting critters!

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    • It is so sad to see how slowly and inexorably this pandemic is not leaving our lives. Still, there is hope, always, on the horizon. Meanwhile, I cook daily, take care of my grandsons, garden, feed wild birds, and read. Life does go on. Thank you so very much for sharing and caring. We need these wellness tips now more than ever დდ

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