As the New Year Begins and we wait for the Vaccine and for life to reopen, we must take a look at how we are able to be patient. My friend and colleague, Susan Berlin, who you may know as the talented Washington DC therapist and the founder of Capital Networking Group, shared this poem the other day. I offer it to you. In the hopes that we all can develop a practice of Patience.
The Patience of Ordinary Things
by Pat Schneider
It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Or ordinary things, how clothers
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of the stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?
Over 40 million folks live with an anxiety disorder which is more than an occasional worry or fear. In fact, since lockdown anxiety is on the rise. Anxiety disorders can range from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) which is intense worrying you can’t control to panic-sudden episodes of fear along with heart palpitations, shaking or sweating. In addiction to talk therapy, coaching, medications and eating well balanced diets and limit alcohol . here are 10 other suggestions to relax your mind. These ideas came from my own practice, Web MD, Tamar Chanskey, PHD, as well as Interviews held with experts on Shelby Stanger’s Vitamin Joy Podcast.
- Stay in your time zone– Anxiety lives in the future of what if’s. So instead of future forecasting and projecting stay in the moment. Ask yourself, what is happening Now? Am I safe? Are my loved ones safe? Revisit the present through out your day.
- Fact Check Your Thoughts– rethink your fears. Suppose you are worried about a loved one who is in treatment or just got out of treatment. You worry that she will relapse and you future trip and become panicky. Fact Check. Today my love one is safe, they are doing what they need to do to stay sober. Or think about having to do a presentation and you are nervous. I always am anxious before I present. Rather then future forcasting and feeling like I am going to bombed. I embrace my feeling of anxiety , of nervousness and say, I am anxious and I am prepared for the presentation. I take a time out, take a few big breaths , visualize success and go
- Breathe in and Out– Deep breathing can calm you down It doesn’t matter how many just focus on the breathing and that will recenter yourself
- Develop a Good Relationship with Sleep– When we are anxious we do a lot of waking up and as Kelly Murphy an award winning pediatric sleep consultant tells us on the podcast Vitamin Joy sleep becomes a “ Bad boyfriend or partner> ke;lluy teaches us how to embrace waking up in a way that we go back to sleep thus turning down anxiety and turning up joy
- Reframe and relabel what is happening around you. So you had a no good very bad day. A panic attack can make you feel like tour are dying or having a heart attack at least that is where the catastrophizing mind . Breathe ,Remind yourself, “ I am having a panic attack Your body is very much alive e activating its fight or flight response which keeps you alive
- Follow the 3-3-3 role Look around and name 3 things you see. Name 3 sounds you hear. Finally move three parts of your body, ankle, fingers or arms. Whenever you feel your mind racing down your highway try this mental trick. Counting backwards or reciting the alphabet also works.
- Just do Something- To interrupt the process stand up, take a walk , throw trash away from your desk. Do anything that interrupts your train of thought, Vitamin Joys Podcast about Movement is Medicine is a must as is listing to world class athelete Gabby Reeses on how movement sets our mind at ease. Having worked with many folks who have had both a substance use disorder as well as chronic pain I can attest to the power movement as well as the power of great addiction treatment for lowering anziety
- Embrace The Suck with Former Navy Brain Glesson reminds us that is possible to burst our with laughter even in the midst of devastation. Finding laughter in the suck or even watching a funny video or movie can work wonders with the anxious mind. Laughter has been proven to lower anxiety as muchgn or more then even exercise.
- Stand Up Straight. When we are anxious we tend to hunch overprotecting our heart . an immediate response is to stand straight up with eyes forward as that signifies we race in control.
- Stay Away From Sugar – I know I have been all to guilty reaching for a heresy kiss or a Wise potatoes chips to calm my anxious mind. Stay away from sugar. Too much sugar actually can worsen anxious feelings. Instead of reaching for comfort foods, drink a glass of water or eat protein. That will allow your body to regain energy.
- Reach out-ask for a second opinion. Text, Call a friend, family member or your coach or counselor and run through your worries with them . Saying aloud to someone else what your fears are can help you see them more clearly and give you the opportunity for reflection back. If for example you are in panic over a loved one who is in or struggling with recovery being member of a self-help group like Alanon or CODA gives you folks that you can bounce your feelings off any time
- Practice Gratitude – In my latest book , Addiction in the Family: helping Families Navigate Challenges, Emotions and Recovery, I offer self-care activities at the end of eaxh chapter. Nothing is more important then starting gratitude practice as it has been proven that changes our brain chemistry in seeing life through a more abundant lenses. Strat your da off each day with three things you are grateful for, write them down and again repeat the activity. When you feel anxious pull out that list and share with a friend.
Speaking of Gratitude my colleague and teammate David Malow sent me a recent article on ways to become more Grateful.It inspired me to write the following.
- Start a Daily Gratitude Practice- Keep a Gratitude Journal. The researcher Emmons has demonstrated that a daily practice of gratitude changes your brain chemistry
- Mindful Meditation that focuses on positivity. As I have shared thanks to my teammate Shayne AndersonI found Deprak Chopras 21 Days of Abundance to be for me an absolute act that allows be to see abundance in my life (reduce fear and anxiety) and to be grateful for what I have. Other clients of mind have found gratitude in aps such as Headspace, Calm or Happy.
- Remember the S-The good, The Bad and The Ugly- To be grateful in your current state you must remember the tough times. Ask anyone in recovery from alcohol or other drugs about their struggles and how life is for them today. Ask any mother or father that has had a loved one in the midst of an addiction how it is for them today. Think about how far you have come and you can visualize in your mind a beautiful contrast that gives birth to gratitude
- Ask yourself 3 questions? What have I received from? What have I given freely to? What Troubles or Difficulties Have I caused/ What steps have I taken?
- Sometimes prayers of gratitude are helpful. While not a religious person I am spiritual and for me I am most grateful for the S Reinhold Niebur’ Serinity Prayer –“ God Grant me the serenity to accept the tihngs I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference” There are in every religion prayers of gratitude so nbe an explorer and find one or two that suit you.
- Look at your body through loving kindness . through our senses, the ability to touch , see , smell`, hear and see we can see our bodies and the world as a magnificent construction.
- Watch Your Language. Focus on how much good other have done, look at the world as full, talk about strength, resilience . Focus on the goodness of others. Be sure and thank those who have done good things for you and use the words of positivity.
- Create Visual Reminders; putting reminders by your phone, the bathroom mirror , the refrigerator and in on car console are good places to begin. Have knock knacks that remind you of abundance or create a vision board of gratitude
- Practice , Practive , Practice. In the 12 step program they say suit up and show up. In the beginning a gratitude practice may seem as awkawerd as learning to toe your shoes. Yet doing it one day at a time will work wonders. It takes 90 days to create a habit so take a leap of faith and do this one day at a time.
- Think and Thank outside the box. I have written about this many times. If you want to create a gratitude practice you must work those new muscles out Look to new circumstance and be creative in ways that you have never been before to feel grateful.