By Charles Jarvis, LMHC
Many of us had to find a way to manage our stress this past year. Whether it is managing financial concerns, finding childcare, or trying to keep assets – anxiety was high for many. In a historic year in mental health, many clinicians are seeing heightened divorce rate, relapses in substance abuse, and even desperate decisions.
Below are some techniques to manage these symptoms and calm those nerves.
1. Practice Gratitude
It is all too common to focus on the negatives, and sometimes we dwell there – expanding our problems. We as people, are mainly solution-focused and try to focus on goals to accomplish or barriers to overcome. Try slowing your thoughts down and focus on your accomplishments.
- What are you proud of?
- What did you complete today?
- What are you thankful for?
Spend 10-15 minutes here a day, particularly in the morning. This contributes to lasting success and a better mood.
2. Experience Your Sensations
When we experience problems in relation to anxiety-management, many of us become quickly overcome by the emotional component. Slow down your thoughts and think about your senses.
- First, what does this problem do to you – how does it affect you?
- Then stop and pick 5 things you can see that are calming – what do they look like?
- Pick four things you can hear – what do they sound like?
- Pick three you can taste – what do they taste like?
- Two you can smell – what do they smell like?
- And one you can touch – what does it feel like?
Now revisit the struggle you were experiencing. How is it different now that you are not experiencing a heightened emotional response?
3. Focusing Outside Yourself
When experiencing anxiety, sometimes we get overwhelmed with our experience which will prolong the symptoms and commonly cause panic. We tend to focus on their physical symptoms, like heightened pulse, shortness of breath, sweating, or belief others may be noticing these struggles. It is normal for us to feel this way but starts us on a path of destruction.
Instead, focus outside of your body, give yourself 10-15 minutes which can lead to relaxation. An easy way to complete this is listening to music. I find one to three songs will end a panic attack, and commonly use this with my patients as a teaching group.
Also guided meditation can be useful. Find some time to sit outside, listen to the wind moving through the trees, the sounds the birds or neighborhood makes, the sound of your breathing. Direct your attention to sensations outside of yourself and watch your panic ease.
Remember these things take practice to incorporate into your toolbox. You are working on a better you, and over time these ideas will become an automatic response. But you have already started on this journey, take pride in those successes as you grow.
About Charles Jarvis, LMHC
Charles Jarvis is a licensed mental health counselor practicing in Massachusetts with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. He has been working in mental health since 2008 and has held a variety of critical roles. As a community hospital site manager, he has a specialized focus on those in the community experiencing mental health crises. In addition, he has worked in outpatient therapy, day, and community programs as well as specializing in populations with life-threatening symptoms. He enjoys talking to people with an aim to support his clients in their goal to achieve a better life experience.