Coping with Stress and Anxiety during quarantine
Stress and anxiety are similar but not the same, stress is opening the door to be confronted by a huge bear, anxiety is the thought “there might be a huge bear behind the door”. Anxiety is the fear, the worry of what might be, or even what will be.
When I see clients, they will often say they want to free of stress or anxiety and as powerful as hypnotherapy can be, no good honest therapist would offer a client freedom from stress. We need stress, it’s built-in, it has helped mankind survive to this point.
What we can do is reduce stress and help people manage their stress. It is our personal perception, our interpretation of an event that makes it stressful – or not. Going to the dentist for example, we all have a range of views about this, others finding it less stressful than some.
Stress can motivate us, stress gives us the ability, the resource to respond to the threat even if it boils down to run or fight. There is a great book out there by Kelly McGonigal, the Upside of Stress.
She says we get stressed when our goals are the line, so we take action; when our values are threatened, so we defend them; when we need courage. We get stressed so we can connect with others, or so that we will learn from our mistakes.
The stress response is more then a basic survival instinct. It is built into how humans operate, how we relate to one another and how we navigate our place in the world. When you understand this, the stress response is no longer something to be feared, it is something to be appreciated, harnessed and even trusted.
It is our view of stress, it’s negative connotations they make it harmful to us. Consider this, stress is only bad for us when we believe it is.
Coping with Stress and Anxiety during quarantine now:
• Acknowledge stress when you feel it.
• Welcome it as a response to something you care about – what is at stake and why is it important to you?
• Make use of the energy provided by the stress response – what can you do right now to reflect your values.
Remember anxiety will produce real physical responses in our body and when we can realise that these real feelings are being produced by something by that is untrue at that specific time, it is just a thought, we can start to empower ourselves and liberate ourselves from the thoughts and response they evoke.
Let’s take a common belief right now, “I can’t cope with lockdown”. This is a limiting belief, not something that is factually true, it is something you’ve stopped questioning, a presupposition of truth if you like.
So, ask yourself what could happen if you were unable to have this belief, is it actually true? If you think it is, how do you know, what’s your evidence? If you stopped thinking about this, would it still be there, be true. Is it just a “what if”, is it an excuse and limiting belief that is actually holding you back.
Writing down our worries can help us realise how unlikely many of them are to be true. You can reduce anxiety response by simply acknowledging the emotion and giving it a label, a name. Writing it down can actually take away it’s power, we can see it, we can own it, we often laugh at it when we see it written down, it doesn’t look threatening at all. Writing it down causes us to have to bring it into our consciousness, we acknowledge the feelings, we can own them, we can choose a different response or just step out of the cycle of anxiety and reactivity.
Mindfulness meditation is a great way to dissolve and manage stress and anxiety. Having practiced mindfulness meditation for some years now and teaching it to others. I believe it’s the best portable device ever, you can do it anywhere.
Simply find somewhere quiet to sit, sit upright if can, on a chair or on the floor, I don’t recommend lying down, that’s called sleeping. Try to sit upright and if in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
You can close your eyes or simply let your gaze rest 3-2 metre on the ground in front of you, take 2 nice slow deep breaths, be still, be aware of your breathing, don’t scrutinise it, just be aware. And yes – thoughts will keep popping into your head, remember they are just thoughts, tell yourself “it’s just a thought” and let it go. If your mind wanders, as it will bring it back, gently.
Just sit quietly, try this for about 5-10 minutes. It’s not as easy you might think.
I’ll be interested in your comments, everyone’s experience if different, as unique as they are.
Remember there are 144, 10 minutes in a day, take one of those for yourself.
© Coping with stress and anxiety during quarantine