Important things to know about COPING so you aren’t more anxious

During our 30+ years as psychotherapists we never had to address the fear and uncertainty the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic has created.  The disruption to individual lives and society is surreal.

There are coping truths that we know are real:

  1. Everyone copes with horrible situations differently.  Some use humor (even gallows humor), some become immobilized or depressed, for others anxiety explodes, some grasp at things that are seemingly frivolous but under their control (like hoarding toilet paper).  I watch the news obsessively since I find comfort in information.
  2. We want our family & friends to cope in the same way we cope.  “Why aren’t you acting more worried?”, “Don’t be so obsessive”.  “Do something productive.”  “Calm down and slow down.” There’s comfort in thinking we are connected and not alone in our own way of seeing and responding to threats, real or perceived.  When other people don’t cope the way we cope it makes us nervous, as if something is wrong with them.
  3. The higher the stress the more the brain reverts to automatic, old, tried and true patterns and coping mechanisms that are basic to who we are and how we are in the world.  Our mind-body stress response says this is NOT time to change our normal behaviors and natural tendencies because doing something new creates more stress.
  4. It’s normal to feel productive anxiety right now, and while we need to allow ourselves to feel these feelings.  Some anxiety is productive—it’s what motivates us to wash our hands often and distance ourselves from others when there’s an important reason to do so. If we weren’t reasonably worried, no one would be taking these measure to help reduce the viral spread.
  5. Unproductive anxiety— unchecked rumination—makes our mind spin in frightening directions. Our anxiety is actually trying to keep us safe by focusing on potential threats preparing us for fight, flight or freeze. However, anxiety when constant elevates our stress response chronically which dampens the immune response which is the last thing we want during a pandemic. 

    Click here for your FREE Incredibly Creative Stress Kit PDF

In recent weeks we have been doing daily posts on coping with stress, anxiety and social distancing .

Click here for “Ways to Cope in Uncertain Times 

Click here for “Control your Stress & Anxiety: 6 Ways to Meditate for People Who Can’t “Meditate”

Click here for: “Control Your Stress and Anxiety: Comfort Eating Actually Comforts”.

Click here for : “ME, a Stress Case? . . . This Anxiety Reduction Technique is for YOU too “

Click here for:”Decrease your Anxiety & Stress Increasing Immunity”

Click here for: “How to Reduce Fear and Anxiety in 30 Seconds”

Click here for: “How to Empty your Brain to Reduce Stress & Control Anxiety – Write On!”

Click here for: “How to activate your own Placebo to reduce Stress & Anxiety”

Control your Stress & Anxiety: 6 Ways to Meditate for People Who Can’t “Meditate”

Yay. Sure. 100%.  When I meditate it’s 50%-50% at best.  My monkey mind swings from trees with great abandon, my thoughts rambling, rumbling and wildly roaming.

So!  Why meditate?

Meditation has been rigorously scientifically studied and it’s shown to literally change the brain.  A regular meditation practice helps significantly with depression and anxiety, meditation has been shown to help with anti-aging, fighting infections, contributing to a sense of control and combating feelings of loneliness.

Nearly anything can be turned into a meditative practice as long as you focus on leaving your “head” and experience the world through your senses.(Sorry – Television, video games and reading don’t count as meditation because they simply replace our own thoughts with more stimulating ones.)

When the stress, thinking of “doing nothing” for 20 minutes, negates  benefits here’s 6 alternative forms of meditation:

(I’ve tried five of them- and they work.  You can guess which one I’ve ignored)

1.  Take a Musical Bath

Like a warm bath, sink into the melodies, soak in the harmonies, bath your body in the rhythms and Immerse yourself in sound.  It is a powerful and enjoyable form of meditation.
Get an album you’ve wanted to listen to for some time and listen to it… reallylisten, with no interruptions.

2. Dance When NO ONE Watches

Dancing is the natural progression from listening to music.  Many of us have had the horrible feeling of dancing while being stuck in self-conscious over thinking and paranoid about how we look.

Meditative dance is ignoring everything that is going on outside our own body and becoming one with the music.  Flay your arms, sway your hips, roll your eyes –  Let go of protecting your self image, have fun and even be silly. 

3. Draw with your eyes

Drawing is less about talent and more about learning to see.  Thinking actually can get in the way so that’s why this exercise is meditative.

(Don’t worry about what it’s going to look like, it’s the meditative process that counts not the Museum of Modern Art.)

By drawing without looking you use your sight perception to get out of your head- what you THINK it should look like – and be in the moment.

  1. Choose what to draw — a cup, your foot, a chair, it doesn’t matter.
  2. Set a timer for 10 or 20 minutes.
  3. Arrange yourself so you can see the object you will be drawing without seeing the paper.  Put your pencil through a paper plate so you can’t see your paper.
  4. Focus your eyes on some part of the object and coordinate your eye moving around the outline (contours) of the object with moving your pencil to record what your eyes observe.
  5. Without looking at your hand, your paper or your pencil focus only on the shape of an object.

    Do not look down at the paper as you SLOWLY move the pencil,  concentrating on the lines, and contours of the object as you let your pencil “flow” in time with your eyes.

  6. Continue observing and recording until the timer rings

Just like any meditation practice, this exercise can be difficult at first but will become easier as you learn to shift your thinking from an analytical, labeling mode to one that is more intuitive, MEDITATIVE.

4. Yoga

Not only is yoga incredible for flexibility, balance and strength, it’s also one of the oldest forms of meditation. You combining various movements with coordinated breathing to help focus on your inner body.

Watch yoga videos on YouYube, there’s hundreds to choose from – and practice them a few times a week.

Don’t get caught up with all the bells and whistles, yoga is about feeling connected to the earth and your inner body.  (The last time I checked your feet were already touching ground.)

5. Meditative Munching

Take advantage of one of the necessities of life – food – and the fact you do it every day . . . several times a day.  

Remember, the power of meditation comes with practicing full focus.  When your mind strays return to taste, texture, temperature.   Eating in front of the TV, in the car or standing over the sink only encourages the monkeys to leap around.

Eat slowly, savor each bite – focus on the textures, flavors, aromas and the temperature. (And while you’re chewing, feel grateful for each bite of nourishment.)

6. Restore with Chores

(We’ve gone from what I consider the most enjoyable – eating – to the least)

Chores can be meditative WHEN you focus solely on what your are doing.  Your monkey mind will try and take over to keep you entertained and stimulated.

Just as in all meditative practices keep refocusing your monkey mind on the task at hand: Washing dishes – focus on the temperature of water, seeing the pot become cleaner and cleaner;  Mowing the lawn – examine the cutting patterns, inhale the aroma of cut grass; Making the bed – notice the feel, color, wrinkles of sheets, the tension of folds, your hand motion . . .

(Personally, I’d rather monkey around.)

jw

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/6-alternative-forms-meditation-for-people-who-hate-doing-nothing.html