Well, we’re nearing the light at the end of this COVID tunnel and slowly making adjustments toward re-engaging in normal life. That’s great, right? (cue blood curdling scream) Hang on a minute…
While many people may be champing at the bit to “get back out there” and resume normal life: going back to the office, meeting friends for drinks (or meeting friends, period), going to parties, and otherwise popping out of the bubble we’ve been in for over a year, for others the bubble has taken on a protective property, shielding us from the obligation to get out there and be immersed in culture and society. This reluctance has its roots in anxiety. Our comfort zone has shrunken along with the size of our lives, seemingly, and that small zone of comfort feels safe in a world where everything looks to be coming undone.
It’s okay to feel anxious. So often, when we feel anxiety or any other uncomfortable emotion, we struggle against it, trying to escape the depth of its impact. It may sound strange, but accepting one’s anxiety and just allowing oneself to feel the discomfort, can diminish its strength and impact.
Who hasn’t felt “stressed out” or overwhelmed at some point in their life? It seems like an acceptable state of being in American culture, where status, material possessions, political affiliations, civil unrest and attitudes about the vaccine color one’s experience and can cause conflict. I’m feeling anxious. It’s okay to feel anxious, I’ve been anxious before. Even though I have all this anxiety, I love and accept myself. What if you could learn to deal with anxiety through self compassion and calming techniques?
It starts with simply becoming aware of and acknowledging anxiety. Try saying, when you feel anxious, “I’m anxious. It’s okay that I’m anxious. I accept my anxiety and I love myself.” Then try one of these calming techniques to ground yourself and dissolve the anxiety.
Calm, safe place
Close your eyes and imagine a calm, beautiful place where you would like to be, either somewhere you’ve visited in the past or a place where you’ve always wanted to go. As you picture yourself in that peaceful place, imagine everything you are experiencing through your senses: what do you hear, see, what do you feel on your skin, what do you smell? Enjoy being in that calm, peaceful place for a few moments as you breathe in through the nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, and exhale through your mouth for a count of four several times.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
EFT, or tapping as it is more widely known, is a reassuring, calming self-practice that stimulates energy meridians in your head and upper body, allowing you to clear dysfunctional thoughts and limiting beliefs. These tapping points are located:
- At the top of your head
- Between your eyebrows
- At the temple (at the outside of your eye)
- Underneath the eye on the orbital bone
- Under the nose, above your upper lip
- On your chin
- At your clavicle bone (between your shoulders in the chest area)
Tap on these acupressure points while going through an inner dialog of positive affirmation and acceptance for what you are feeling. For instance,
(tapping at the top of your head) Even though I feel all of this anxiety, it’s okay.
(tapping between the eyebrows) I accept the anxiety and I love and accept myself.
(tapping at the temple) It’s okay that I don’t have all the answers.
(tapping under the eye) I choose to feel calm.
(tapping under the nose) I choose to let go of the need to control.
(tapping on the chin) I trust that everything is happening as it should
(tapping on your clavicle bone) I am grateful for my emotions, and I love and accept myself.
The concept of bilateral stimulation is part of the magic of EMDR treatment, which stands for eye-movement and desensitization reprocessing. The idea was discovered by Francine Shapiro while she was simply taking a walk through the park one day. She noticed that as her eyes moved from side-to-side, looking at the trees, the sky, the general scenery, that the problems she’d been worrying about began to feel lighter. Bilateral stimulation can be achieved visually, through sounds in one ear and then the other, tapping alternately on the knees, or by cycling, walking or sensing any such bilateral movement. EMDR treatment has been popularized and has shown through research to be effective with trauma and PTSD. It is offered by many mental health professionals.
If you are struggling with anxiety, or any manner of emotional challenge, the therapists at Life Skills Resource Group are able to help you in healing. Your ability to feel calm, secure and grounded is what we help people with every day. Call our office to begin your journey to emotional wellness! (407)355-7378
Relaxation exercises such as this, as well as hypnosis, EMDR and other cognitive therapy interventions will help reduce anxiety and manage stress effectively. Prioritizing your life and assessing what is important can be a tremendous stress reduction technique. I will work with you to achieve balance and harmony in your life so that you can relax and learn to manage your stress.
The Dalai Lama once said, when asked what impressed him most about contemporary man: “…he sacrifices his health in order to make money, then he sacrifices money to recuperate health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and dies having never really lived.” Don’t embody the Dalai Lama’s characterization of man, take charge of your life with the gentle encouragement provided by expert counseling.