Therapists Give Their Best Tips On Dealing With Anxiety While Social Distancing

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When Kraybill’s clients get stuck in a negative, depressive fog, she asks them to think of a happy memory and describe it using specific sensory details. "Using visualization and imagination right now is really important because it can really help us connect with the feelings we have inside and experiences that are also positive," explains Kraybill. "The more we do this, it almost becomes like an instinct; you say 1-2-3, and you’re able to connect to it. " We can return to these positive visualizations during difficult moments.

Stand with your feet shoulder length apart, bend your knees, breathe deeply, and shake your body gently from head to toes. "You imagine that all the tension is going down your legs and into your feet, and you’re ridding your body of all the tension," explains Engel. "And then you can do the opposite and let the energy move up your spine.

To keep yourself calm, remind yourself that hypochondria is just another form of anxiety. "[Hypochondria] is panic, it’s catastrophizing; all those [symptoms] are the same thing, they’re all about fear and anxiety," explains Engel.

But be honest with yourself about whether talking to that person actually makes you feel better. "There are two kinds of people with anxiety: For some people, talking about their anxiety and what’s bothering them helps them, but for others, it makes it worse," explains Engel.

Learn grounding, anchoring, and other self-soothing techniques to calm yourself during moments of panic. "A lot of our fears are about going into our heads and obsessing and ruminating and catastrophizing," explains Engel.

Engel suggests setting aside a window of time a few days a week to "confront the realities of your situation and take some action. " This small step can make you feel more in control of your life right now — which is crucial at a time when the future seems so precarious.

It’s understandable I’m not working at my peak performance. " Another one is "I’m doing the best that I can. " You could also use words of gratitude, such as "I’m grateful for my breath" or "I’m grateful for my friends. " Breathe deeply as you repeat your mantra to yourself.

To relax during a typical difficult week, you might go to a yoga class or set up a coffee date with a friend, but those options aren’t currently available. "The methods we usually use for self-care and coping are disrupted because of the consequences of COVID-19," explains Ali.

Engel suggests telling yourself, "It’s understandable," i. e. , "it’s understandable that I’m stressed out.

When that happens, the best way to counter a tendency to spiral or even dissociate is to "get out of our heads and get back into our bodies. " Grounding techniques pull your attention back to the present moment, "and that makes you feel more secure," she says.

But "when you wake up in the morning, have some goals for the day," suggests Engel. "The routine could include exercise; it could include checking in on your friends, sanitizing your house.

During moments of paralysis, Kraybill recommends what she calls a "reset exercise": Jump up and down 10 times, and follow that with seated deep-breathing exercises to recover. "It resets the nervous system," she says.

What we really need is to take action, and move more," explains Odelya Gertel Kraybill, LCPC and trauma therapist.

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