Breaking News

Stressed and Anxious? Here’s How to Stay Emotionally Healthy

“Health is not just about what you’re eating. It’s also about what you’re thinking and saying.”

A virus is spreading across the globe. Schools are shut down. People are out of work. Grocery stores are empty.

Weddings, graduations, vacations, a day in court—canceled.

This is the ultimate test in emotional resilience.

Uncertainty is one of the main reasons we stress, along with a lack of control.

– Talk to someone, but limit the bitching.

It can be cathartic to share with others the fear, panic, and challenges we’re experiencing. It makes us feel not alone. It validates our feelings and makes us feel connected. So talk to someone about what is stressing you out right now.

But set a time limit to focus on the negative. Maybe ten or twenty minutes each to share. Then it’s time to change the conversation.

Here are some cues:

What is going right?

What are you proud of yourself for?

What are you grateful for?

What are you looking forward to?

Despite the hardships, how are you coping?

How can you encourage and praise your friend?

When we only focus on the negative, we forget what is going well and then all we can see is the bad.

– Be generous.

This doesn’t need to be a gift of money!

It can be a roll 250 grams of rice or 4 eggs. It can be an hour on video call with your aunt who is held up in her nursing home. It can be offering to pick up and drop off groceries for a neighbour.

Generosity can even come in the form of well wishes or prayers for others dealing with difficult times.

Giving is scientifically proven to be good for your emotional health.

It activates regions of the brain “associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a ‘warm glow’ effect. It releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the ‘helper’s high.’”

Giving has been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others.

It’s been shown to decrease stress, which not only feels better, but lowers your blood pressure and other health problems caused by stress.

What can you give right now?

– Take a mental break.

It’s so easy to get stuck in mental go-mode all our waking hours. Especially since our brains crave being busy or entertained.

Even when we rest, we flip through Facebook, watch TV, or daydream.

From our anxious place, we catastrophise as we spin out in our negativity bias. All we can see is the negative.

We need these mental breaks to create space from these ruminating thoughts. We need to hit the reset button.

A mental break is taking anywhere from thirty seconds to thirty minutes to consciously turn our attention inward, away from outside influence, as well as our flow of thoughts.

We can’t stop the flow of thoughts, but we can notice when they’ve taken our attention, and purposefully redirect that attention to something in the present moment like the breath, a mantra or sound, or a visualization.

Here are a few ways to take that mental break:

             Breathwork

             Meditation

             Time in nature

             Walking, exercise, or dancing

             Practicing mindfulness

             Listening to music

             Simple mental break breathing:

– Allow all the feels.

This stress and anxiety feel terrible. And it can be hard to muster up the strength and will to try out some of the items on this list to make yourself feel better.

That’s okay.

But what tends to happen is we want to run from the discomfort, try to suppress it with distraction like TV or social media, or numb it with wine, food, or drugs.

It’s normal to want to avoid pain. We’re naturally geared to avoid it. However, when we block this pain from flowing, when we don’t allow ourselves to feel our emotions, they get stuck.

Emotions are energy in motion. If you stop it, it just bottles up. It doesn’t disappear.

Try this exercise to allow your emotions to flow:

Take a moment to close your eyes and sit in a quiet space or block out distraction as best you can.

Take a deep breath in and slowly breathe out.

Notice the physical feelings of stress. Where are you holding it in your body? What does it feel like?

On your next exhale, release as much tension as you can.

Repeat:

“I am allowing these feelings to be present.”

“I let these feelings flow through me.”

“These feelings are causing me no harm.”

Now scan your body starting from your head, jaw and neck. Shoulders and hips. Down your legs and feet. Release any tension you find along the way.

Once you’ve allowed these feelings to exist and flow, the following tool is a fantastic next step toward emotional health.

(to be continued)

Check Also

The concert pianist who dislikes concerts

Luis Dias Remember the good old days when we could travel freely? This is from …