Anxious? Panicky? Try this

Hey ,

We are all a little jumpy over the Corona virus – and we all know that panic is counterproductive. The best thing to do is stay focused and listen to what the WHO and CDC and other medical authorities tell us. Dr. Sanjay Gupta from CNN has a useful podcast Fact Vs. Fiction.

But for some of us, anxiety and panic seems inescapable, so this newsletter is for you – or for your relevant love ones.

Thank you so much,
Sidra, David and Tongka

Anxiety & Fear: Solutions

A “little” anxiety is not a bad thing.
It helps to protect you from harm or potential danger, real or imagined, like other emotions.
In the case of the Corona virus, the fear is straightforward: fear of the unknown. On the other hand, there are some things you do know rationally: some things you can’t control, other things you can. And you want to be calm.
Fear is one of the biggest deterrents to our success. Yet in spite of the negative perception we may have about fear, it also has its little good side. Fear prevents us from getting hurt, both physically and emotionally. The “little” fear inherent within us is actually good for us.
We need that “little” fear. It prevents us from getting too aggressive. The same is true with panic. A “little” panic can serve as a form of defense. But being engulfed with excessive panic may hinder you from performing your normal activities.
Simply put, anxiety is the feeling of uneasiness, discomfort, or fear of what may eventually happen resulting from perceived, real, or imagined threat or condition. Panic attacks, on the other hand, are actually heightened anxiety. Two distinct symptoms become obvious during a panic or anxiety attack: physical and emotional.

Different People, Different Cures

The cures for anxiety are varied to suit different people. It is important to note that there are anxieties brought about by uncontrollable events like natural disasters, pandemics (!) and loss of human lives; and there are those which are perceived or imagined (the ones that can be controlled or managed), like phobias. But if you are vulnerable to the latter, your risk assessment of the former may be out of whack.
However, for the purposes of the present discussion, let’s not discuss realistic risk assessments but simply address ways of achieving greater calm and a sense of mastery over yourself and your environment.
Some people find relaxation and meditation skills beneficial in getting rid of anxiety. You neither resign nor flee from anxiety, but you just let it glide through your mind and body. When learning and practicing these skills, it is important to free yourself from outside distractions. Try any one or all of the techniques below until you find one suitable for you.

1) Roll Breathing

This type of exercise aims to develop the full capacity of your lungs and to harmonize yourself with your breathing pace. This is best done while lying on your back, with knees bent.
1. Place left hand on your stomach, and place the right hand on your chest. Breathe in through the nose to the lower lungs (notice left hand rises while right hand does not move) for around 10 times.
2. After you feel at ease after 10 times of filling and emptying your lower lungs, repeat the same step. But this time, continue inhaling to the upper chest (notice right hand rises as left hand falls a little).
3. Exhale gradually through the mouth with a slight whooshing sound letting left hand fall first, then the right hand. Feel your worries and anxieties leave the body. Do this for around 5 minutes. Notice that the stomach and chest resembles rolling waves, rising and falling in a rhythmic motion.
Do this daily for several weeks or until you feel comfortable with this technique, so that it can be used whenever needed. If you get dizzy or light headed at first, you must breathe and move slowly, and then gradually increase the rate as you get more comfortable with the exercise.

2) Modified Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Deep muscle relaxation can diminish anxiety, stress, and tension. The objective of this method is to tense and relax every muscle part of your body.
Stretch out comfortably on the floor. Tense muscle groups for 5 to 10 seconds (strong but not to the point of discomfort), then let go and relax them for 10 to 15 seconds. At different points, check each muscle group and relax each one a bit more each time.
1. Point your toes towards your face.
2. Point and curl toes downward.
3. Clench your thighs hard.
4. Press hips and buttocks together.
5. Suck abdomen into a firm knot.
6. Breathe in deep through nose, hold it in your chest, and exhale through mouth.
7. Arch the back upward and away from any support.
8. Shrug your shoulders.
9. Clench your arms into fists, bend arms at elbows, and flex biceps.
10. Stretch out wrists and forearms, and bend them backward to the wrist.
11. Extend your chin to the chest, then tilt head backward (for the neck).
12. Press your lips tightly.
13. Smile from ear to ear (for the cheeks and jaws).
14. Close your eyes tightly (remove contact lenses if any).
15. Wrinkle your forehead into a frown.
16. When you’re done, count backwards from 10 to 1 for a more rejuvenating experience.

3) Relaxation Response

This technique slows heartbeat rate and breathing, lowers blood pressure, and relieves tensed muscles (as adopted from Herbert Benson, MD).
While in a sitting position, with eyes closed, perform the modified progressive muscle relaxation technique. Thereafter, be aware of your breathing from the abdomen and not from the chest. Every time you exhale, say a desirable word, phrase, or mantra like “freedom,” “power,” “one,” or “amen.”
Concentrate on any object in your mind as a stimulus and don’t be distracted by any other disturbing thoughts that enter your mind. Just let them drift away. Quietly relax for several minutes, then open your eyes. Notice any difference in breathing and pulse rate prior to the exercise. It may take more than one practice to attain deep relaxation. The purpose of this is to attain a passive mood, by letting distracting thoughts drift away like ocean waves. Practice this technique twice a day for 10 minutes.

4) Imagery

1. Picture yourself on top of a high mountain. Imagine air circling around your feet, going up to your knees, to your thighs, to your tummy, to your chest, to your neck, and finally to your head. Each time the whirling wind comes up, visualize all your anxieties and worries being swept away. Feel the calming effect as the anxieties within you are now “gone with the wind.”
2. Picture yourself on the beach. As the waves splash your body, imagine all the anxieties being “cleansed and removed” out of your system.
3. Imagine a gigantic magnet absorbing all your anxieties. After pulling out all negativity out of your system, the magnet bursts like a bubble and all your fears, worries, and anxieties are vanished to oblivion.
4. Visualize yourself in a very relaxing setting. It may be a landscape where you can see the trees, smell the flowers, hear the gentle flow of water from the brook, and feel the refreshing breeze of fresh air. Now every time you feel anxious or tensed, go to this invigorating place in your mind and spend some time relaxing.

5) Yoga

In essence, yoga is bringing body and mind in touch with each other. Yoga sessions include taking deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling through the nose at around 3 seconds interval, and stretching gently from head to toe. Performing yoga regularly can release inner anxieties and tensions lodged deep within your muscles. The earliest evidence of yoga’s existence dates back nearly 5000 years ago in India. Since then, yoga has been practiced as a natural remedy for various ailments, mostly related to stress and tension.
Daily yoga routine consists of four parts: breathing, relaxation, meditation, and poses. Breathing exercise and meditation can help dissipate anxiety and panic attacks. In deep breathing, positive energy is attracted and sufficient oxygen is collected to relieve your body from tension and stress.
Below are videos of several popular and helpful yoga exercises. As images or thoughts enter you just let your thoughts drift away. What you’re doing here is finding tranquility. This may take a little practice but once you’re accustomed to it, it will come naturally. Do this for about 10 minutes. Then bring yourself back by repeating the same mantra for about a minute. By doing this procedure, you’re letting your body heal itself.

When All Else Fails…..

Finding a hobby or volunteering somewhere are not ideal during a pandemic – but house repairs and renovation might be enjoyable!
But the way to stop anxiety from pushing you around or from controlling you is to move in unison with it. ‘Go with the flow’.
Keep things coming one at a time. Do not be overwhelmed. Do not be uptight. Loosen those nerves. Be less concerned with the time but do not totally ignore it. Take things in stride, in a light manner, even if things seem stressful. Be less serious emotionally. Should you fumble, don’t lose your cool. If possible, see the funny side of every situation.
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous quote goes: “Do the thing you are afraid to do and the death of fear is certain.” This is really true. If you allow fear to stop you from living a normal life, it will always persist on your mind. This is much like a movie. If you don’t watch the movie, you won’t know how its story will end. And this thought will keep on lingering. By watching the movie, your curiosity will be satisfied. The same thing is true with fear.

And this time in your life – all our lives – will pass too. Use the time wisely : )


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