Rather than watching T.V for hours on end, constantly checking social media…whatever it is that you want to do now, challenge yourself to not do it. Instead, ask yourself what are some things you can you do and get lost in doing? These are different for everyone, some people; cook, bake, lift weights, run, write, draw, read, grow or tend to plants, listen to music, play an instrument, paint, study, DIY. It helps to make a written list of what you already know makes you feel worse and then make a list of things to try to get busy at. When you write these down, ideas will come to you sooner and you will also have a plan that you can follow.
The maxim of “there is nothing to fear but fear itself” is nonsense. It is better for us to not be afraid of our negative emotions. Telling yourself not to feel a certain way or denying your feelings only puts extra pressure on you. Coping statements which have been shown to help chronic pain sufferers endure pain can be used as a way of overcoming the physiological effects of emotions:
- I have done this before, and I can do it again
- These are just feelings, they will go away when I’m busy
- I may not feel like doing this now, but if I cope and carry on then I will feel better
- I don’t need to rush, I can take things slowly
- I’m stronger than I think
- What do I need to do right now?
- I don’t need to eliminate stress, just keep it under control
Nasal Diaphragmatic Breathing And Buteyko Breathing
The way we breathe can either aggravate our calm our emotions. Fast upper chest mouth breathing is associated with the fight, freeze or flight response. We don’t need this kind of reaction when we are sitting at home in our kitchen. Nasal diaphragmatic breathing or Buteyko Breathing for anxiety is used to calm panic attack sufferers and will work for you too:
1. Sit upright or lie down on the floor, get comfortable.
2. Close your mouth, breathe in and out through your nose. Do not be concerned if your nose is blocked, it will become clearer as you use it.
3. Put one hand on your belly. Notice it rising as you breathe in and falling as you breathe out. Place the other hand on your chest, try to keep this hand from moving.
4. Just focus on feeling the rising of your belly as you breathe in, and the falling of your belly as you breathe out. Do this for a while.
5. When you are ready, after you breathe out, hold your breath for 3 seconds, count it: 1, 2, 3 then breath in. Calmly breathe out and count again 1,2,3. Repeat this breathing pattern of holding your breath after you breathe out for at least a few minutes or until you feel at ease.
When we are feeling overwhelmed, our thoughts about ourselves and our situations are negative rigid and repetitive. we dismiss our strengths and only find evidence to support our worries. To get out of this style of thinking it helps if we break down what is happening and look for a more balanced view.
Take a pen and paper and answer these four questions: (write the answers down, as it is much more effective; you can throw the paper away when finished)
1. How do you feel and why do you think you feel that way?
E.g. I feel very anxious, I have to give a presentation tomorrow.
2. What are your thoughts?
E.g. I am thinking that I will be too nervous to do a good job, that I will mess it up and get fired.
3. Could there be there any alternatives to your thinking?
E.g. Yes, the last time I did a presentation I forgot to include some things, but it was fine. I remembered to mention them in the review at the end. I was nervous, but I carried on. I coped.
4. Can you do anything now that will make it easier for you to cope?
E.g. I can read my notes and look at some possible questions and ways to elaborate my key points.
Starting and continuing despite our thoughts and felt emotions is the greatest habit we can form. We take control, it is this that gives our lives freedom. Whether you do one or all of these exercises, your ability to create this habit will grow.