It does not seem to matter what environment I am working in. The number one emotional constant that I see is anxiety. A few months back, one of my mentors told me that if an individual is not feeling anxiety right now, he gets apprehensive. Political unrest, COVID, economic strain, and everyday stressors create a perfect storm that is often diagnosed as anxiety. Some of these circumstances are unavoidable, and we have to learn to weather the storm, hopefully together, and become better for it. COVID in and of itself now shows signs of lasting effects on mental health, including depression and anxiety. So what are a couple of the things that we can do every day to help mitigate anxiety and allow ourselves a reprieve from its effects?
We are a product of our daily habits, for better or worse. Being a well-informed individual can be crucial in this day and age. I also believe how we start our day sets the stage for how the rest of it will go. If your day begins with a double espresso from Starbucks while watching various news apps on your phone, have you set the stage for a calm, productive day or a stress-filled, jittery mess. I am not saying give up either of these activities. Just realize there is a cost involved that goes beyond the price of the espresso.
Stress sometimes gets a bad rap. It can be essential to remember that stress is the body's way of getting us to move. Stress hormones get us out of bed in the morning. Stress leads to anxiety when we cannot regulate the hormones, and we get flooded with cortisol. How do we control something that is autonomic?
Be mindful of what your body is doing. Are you tapping your foot? Is your heart rate going up? Do you feel panic rising? Everyone has their tell-tell signs of stress turning inward. Luckily we can do something about it. BREATHE!! It is possible to trick the brain into relaxing the body. The most important thing we do every moment of the day is to breathe, and we forget to be mindful of breathing. Here are a few quick tricks.
Exhale twice as long as you inhale. There are a lot of fancy technical terms for why this works. If you're interested, you can check out Dr. Andrew Huberman, who has a podcast and YouTube channel on the science behind it.
Meditate often, but it doesn't need to be long sessions. The trick is to have a few minutes to focus on breathing, a mantra, or even a guided meditation, first thing in the morning and then before bed. A successful meditation isn't a long one; it is anytime you can notice your mind wander away and pull it back.
Put your hand on your heart, notice it beating. This means you are alive, tell yourself that this will pass, and cut yourself a break. With everything going on in the world today, don’t you think you deserve one?
At Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, Texas, we specialize in Anxiety Counseling and we are prepared to help you sort out these emotions to get you back to living the life you want. We may not be able to guarantee a stress-free life, but we can at least give you the tools to fight back.
Learn more about the Anxiety Counseling services we offer.
Contact us to make an appointment or to let us answer any questions you may have.