Palpable Tension and Anxiety
The coronavirus is ravaging the country at an unprecedented rate and hospitalizations are at an all-time high. Unemployment benefits will run out in the coming weeks, leaving those whose jobs were affected by the pandemic with the very real prospect of hunger and homelessness in the new year. All across the country, a sense of tension and anxiety is palpable. Attending to one’s mental health is as important as ever.
An estimated 30% of Americans experience anxiety disorders at some point in their lives. They are among the most common mental health conditions in the country and we see these diagnoses often here at Creative Care. Furthermore, stress and anxiety are major triggers for our patients suffering from a co-occurring substance use disorder. With so many of the population we serve struggling during these uncertain times, we would like to offer a few simple strategies for dealing with anxiety.
Slow Down and Breathe
When we feel scared or anxious, our instincts kick in and our bodies start to prepare themselves with a flood of hormones. Adrenaline surges, our heart rates increase, and we start to breathe more rapidly. While this fight-or-flight response helped our ancestors survive, it’s overkill in the modern world. We hyperventilate and panic, creating more tension throughout the body and exacerbating our problems. Instead, try to consciously slow your breath down. It’s a way to activate your parasympathetic nervous system and trigger a relaxation response. A simple exercise is to inhale for a slow four count and follow that by exhaling for the same. Five or ten minutes of this will help to re-establish your natural breathing pattern.
A Powerful Grounding Technique
Our anxieties stem from worries over things we can’t control. We “get in our head” about things or “future trip,” as some of our clients like to say. We teach this strategy to our patients who suffer from panic attacks as a means to ground them. Start by taking a few deep breaths. Mentally take note of five things around you that you can see. Follow this by noting four things you can touch and three that you can hear. Finally, notice two things you can smell and one you can taste. This exercise pulls you and your five senses out of your head and into the present moment.
Get Some Exercise
The gyms may be closed right now but just about any type of exercise is effective in relieving stress. Even 30-40 minutes of brisk walking is enough to reduce stress chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. It also boosts endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller and mood enhancer. Finally, like the grounding technique listed above, it’s a means of getting in touch with your physical self and your immediate surroundings.
Innovative, Creative Care
While these techniques are wonderful for dealing with anxiety symptoms, they don’t reach to the roots of anxiety disorders. That requires a professional trained to uncover the trauma beneath the condition. Our expert staff does just that, leading our clients to live a new life of happiness and fulfillment. If you or someone you love is suffering from anxiety, start the recovery process today by calling Creative Care at 855-954-0762.