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Pied Currawong~

I know just how this bird is feeling.

.

This is my face after reading the news.

I also relate to the stressful snacking,

and that guilty look afterwards.

Birds seem to always understand us.

Hope these guys bring smiles and cheers, to you, from me at The Holler~

Note: Pied Currowangs are omnivorous birds from Eastern Oz.

Pandemic Anxiety Busters~

In the last two posts we started filling our anxiety busting toolbox and we are now down to our final three tools.*

Thank you to all the bloggers who added their own personal tools that work. They are most helpful and are incorporated into our toolbox. Choose any tool(s) that might work for you, and discard any/all that are not a good fit. Add more of your own resources that work. Adapt your toolbox to suit yourself. The most important thing, regardless of the specific tools, is to have tools in your awareness, to improve your mood, and ease your anxiety, when bad things happen.

Here is our toolbox:

ANXIETY TOOLBOX:

Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)

Guided Imagination/Visualization

Exposure Management

Progressive Relaxation

Distraction in Action

Self Soothing

Second Voice

Spiritual Meditation/Prayer

Exercise, Diet & Good Health Practices

SECOND VOICE

Carl Jung emphasized the importance of paying attention to our inward self and inner voice and felt that, “engagement with the inner voice is pursued not as a form of inner housekeeping, but rather in the humble service of the development of a relationship with an intelligence present within us but greater than our own. Committing to that service means relating more deeply to our inner nature; its only end-goal is the whole-bodied, whole-hearted, full blossoming of who we really are.”

https://themindunleashed.com/2015/12/five-ways-carl-jung-led-us-to-the-inner-life.html

I wait for, seek out, and listen to my ‘second’ voice, which is often corrective, more helpful, and more calming to me, than my first immediate thought. If this makes any sense to you, try it. When an event occurs, and you have an immediate thought about it, pause, ask yourself, “is this right?” Your second voice may well chime in giving you a more helpful and accurate option. The more you practice listening for your second, more rational thought, rather than accepting your first immediate impulsive thought, the better you get at doing it. Jung felt that our inner voice was direct communication with the collective unconscious, hence the Divine.

SPIRITUAL MEDITATION/PRAYER

Taking time each day to clear your mind of worries and concerns by focusing your attention on the bigger picture is immensely helpful. There are many ways to do this. Prayer and spiritual meditation are methods for connecting ourselves to the greater whole which is profoundly comforting. This spiritual connection can be reached through independent or group prayer, formal or informal meditation, religious or spiritual practice and study. Immersing oneself in nature helps us feel comforted, part of a grander design. Exercising creative pursuits and talents help us feel spiritually connected. The idea is to take time daily for spiritual retreat and connection, eliminating all the noise, chaos, and negativity of the temporal world.

These practices encourage us to fully live in the moment and feel gratitude for being alive. In times of serious stress like a pandemic, turning inward spiritually, connects us outward, bringing calm and comfort. And now that most of us are isolated, finding a way, remotely to be of service and help to others, could never be more important.

EXERCISE, DIET & GOOD HEALTH PRACTICES

We all know the importance of exercise, a healthy diet, hydration, plenty of sleep and rest, in maintaining our physical health. These practices boost our immune system and improve our emotional and psychological health. This becomes more important when we are under sustained and serious stress. As part of your health plan don’t forget to have fun. Be creative about fun, include daily relaxing, distracting, and fun activities, that you have more time for now that you are home. Don’t forget to enjoy life, after all, it is passing, and you are living, now.

  • I tried to upload new photos specifically for this post but wasn’t able to. It seems my wifi is overwhelmed. So I reluctantly include prior posted photos.

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

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~

Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days~

Many of us are experiencing emotional distress from the pandemic which can affect each of us in different ways, but often presents as increasing anxiety, worry, sleep disruption, feelings of helplessness, panic, and/or depression.

The shrieking headlines don’t help do they? So what can we do to manage these feelings and feel stronger emotionally and psychologically as we prepare ourselves to face the difficult days ahead?

As a psychotherapist who has practiced for many decades, I have some ideas that can help. So if you are interested, read on.

We are going to make a customized anxiety toolbox. One approach doesn’t work for everyone, pick and choose what feels right for you. Of course I’m including relaxing photos intermixed in this post because looking at positive images is an objective and powerful anxiety reducer. What you perceive influences how you think and feel.

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

This topic will be broken up into separate posts, and start with Self Talk, Guided Imagination and Exposure Limitation. These are the tools I use most frequently to manage my anxiety. Yes, I have anxiety, and now pandemic anxiety, and I don’t like any of it, so I have learned over the years to better manage all of it.

Self Talk is one of your most powerful anxiety busting tools. It can be best understood through the ABC Model:

A: is an objective event that occurs (Covid 19 for example).

B: is what you immediately and silently say to yourself, sometimes many times a day, about this event, usually without conscious awareness (“Oh no, we’re in a high risk group, we’re gonna die, badly,” is my example). Insert your personal pandemic negative self talk here.

C: are the feelings that immediately arise in response to our self talk (Anxiety, pandemic preoccupation, worry and/or panic)

In this case my self talk was awfulizing , which is the tendency to assume the worst possible outcomes will happen to me or the people I love. I can challenge and change this self talk by making it more realistic. An example for me might be, “Stop thinking the worst. Most high risk people survive. You can take steps to improve your chances.”

I use self talk reframing in combination with guided imagination everyday. These are two of my most trusty tools and they work synergistically with each other to reduce anxiety, each making the other more effective. Like any learned skill, the more you practice it, the better you get at it.

Guided imagination is exactly what it says it is. When you are resting, napping, or going to sleep, don’t let your imagination run you. You run your imagination. Guide it to a place, a story, a visualization, that engages your mind, and is positive, happy and fun. Challenge yourself to come up with imaginative stories that involve you. This is wonderful for your mental and physical health. Make yourself a central character in your story. I have ongoing stories that I return to everynight before I fall asleep. I come up with new stories when the old ones start to lose interest.

This kind of guided imagination reduces stress hormone levels, aids sleep and reduces anxiety. It can even positively influence, or guide, our dreams which is beneficial to our mental and physical health. It is harnessing the creative power of your brain to control its own production. Long term prison inmates report using this technique to escape their cells and fly free. If they can do this, so can you and I.

And finally, reduce your exposure to news. Yes, it is important to stay well informed and safe, especially in a pandemic. But constant media onslaught can be psychologically overwhelming and add to an unhealthy level of anxiety. So take charge of the news in your own best interest. Consciously limit your exposure according to your best choice about how much you can absorb without becoming overwhelmed. This is truly important in managing your anxiety during pandemic times, and really at all times.

Switch from the news after you’ve had enough to stay informed, and read blogs or a book. Watch a movie. Look for positive imagery. Write blogs and stories. After all, you are bloggers! You have awesome creative imaginations. Use your imaginations in positive ways to help you, and your readers, stay on even keel during the coming stressful days.

Cheers & calm to you from me at The Holler~

Note: Australian birds in order, New Holland Honey Eater, Gouldian Finch, Superb Fairy Wren.

Australian King Parrot~

Even the females are kings!

Female Kings have green heads and red bodies.

Males are the only Australian parrot with a completely red head.

Although king parrots appear red and green to us,

birds have an extra cone in their eyes that enable them to see ultraviolet wavelengths.

Under ultraviolet light, some of the King Parrots wing feathers glow with golden light, like a crown.

King Parrots mate for life and often are seen in pairs like these two.

Cheers to you from the beautiful Aussie kings~

Aussie Picnics~

Are definitely the best.

The most interesting folks stop by.

Whats for lunch?

It’s an awkward question for me because I hadn’t planned on wallabies stopping by.

The good news is, they aren’t picky guests!

Cheers to you from Australia’s friendly wallabies~