Let’s move on with building our toolbox to manage pandemic anxiety.
Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)
Distraction in Action
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:
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:
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.