Tips for Coping with Social Isolation and Reducing Anxiety

May 20, 2020

Humans thrive in environments with social contact and don’t do well in isolation. That’s why solitary confinement is used as a punishment in state penitentiaries. It causes the prisoners great mental anguish. Many of us have had a taste of what it feels like to be in solitary or small group confinement over the last couple […]

Tips for Coping with Social Isolation and Reducing Anxiety

May 20, 2020

Humans thrive in environments with social contact and don’t do well in isolation. That’s why solitary confinement is used as a punishment in state penitentiaries. It causes the prisoners great mental anguish.

Many of us have had a taste of what it feels like to be in solitary or small group confinement over the last couple of months. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the lockdown measures to slow its spread, have been hard for many of us mentally and emotionally.

We don’t know how long this crisis will last and that uncertainty is adding to our distress. We don’t have control over the virus, or what our governments do, but we do have control over ourselves and what we focus on. With this in mind, here are some tips for coping with social isolation, for however long it goes on.

Isolate Yourself from the Media

Too much news can overwhelm you and increase anxiety. With a situation that is developing and so many differing points of view,  it can cause confusion and panic to engage with too much media. Try to limit yourself to looking briefly at the headlines and personally relevant information, but stay away from the temptation to leave the news on all day or check-in repeatedly. There are much better and healthier places to put your attention and energy.

Get Creative

Being isolated can get very boring very quickly, so it’s important that you try and get creative with your time. This could mean doing a home beautification project like painting the living room and rearranging the furniture. Learning a new skill or language and maybe making it a group project with your partner or a family member. It could mean experimenting with an old recipe, trying some new dance moves, or making up a game with your kids. Just have fun and think outside the box!

Reconnect

Now is a great time to reconnect with friends and loved ones you haven’t spoken to in a while. Technology like Skype and Facetime makes it incredibly easy to chat with friends and family anywhere in the world. Try not to overthink it, just reach out. Very likely your friend could use the social contact now too.

Stay Active

A lot of the anxiety we may feel comes from the fact we aren’t moving our bodies as much as we usually do. It’s important to stay physically active during this time. If you can do so safely, try to get outside and get some sun too. Go for a walk or ride your bike. Not only is exercise good for us physically, but activity releases endorphins that make us feel good mentally and emotionally as well.

Meditate

The world is a chaotic place right now and it seems we are being hit with negativity from all sides. Your internal chatter may also be very negative right now. It’s important to make time each day for some quiet in all this chaos. Meditation is a great way to find that quiet.

If you’ve never meditated before, that’s okay. Just give it a try. It isn’t about being a great meditator, it’s just about finding a little calm in the storm.

One of the easiest ways to meditate is through a listening meditation. Find a space in your house where you can be alone and get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out… and simply listen to the ambient sounds.

What do you hear? The buzzing of a light? A fly? Your dog’s collar rattling down the hall? Expand your hearing to see what else can you hear outside your house. Birds? Lawnmowers? Traffic?

Simply breathe and listen letting your mind bounce from sound to sound for 5-10 minutes. When you listen intently, you can’t think at the same time, so enjoy the mental quiet. If you notice that you slip and get caught up in your thoughts again, just refocus on the sounds and find the calm again.

If you find that the social isolation is really beginning to trouble you and you’d like to speak with someone, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

SOURCES:

How to Cope with the Stress and Anxiety Caused by COVID-19

April 8, 2020

Trying to stay calm during the COVID-19 pandemic, can feel incredibly difficult at times. There are so many things to worry about these days: friends and loved one’s health, the economy, and what to even believe as this crisis unfolds. One of the most important things you can do during this stressful time is to […]

How to Cope with the Stress and Anxiety Caused by COVID-19

April 8, 2020

Trying to stay calm during the COVID-19 pandemic, can feel incredibly difficult at times. There are so many things to worry about these days: friends and loved one’s health, the economy, and what to even believe as this crisis unfolds. One of the most important things you can do during this stressful time is to take care of yourself – both your physical and mental health.

Signs of Emotional Distress and 6 Ways to Cope

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but most will exhibit some of the following signs:

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Intense emotions
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increase conflict with loved ones
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

If you are experiencing significant stress right now, here are some ways you can cope:

1. Limit Media Consumption and Look for the Good

Too much news isn’t good for anyone. While we need to have some idea of what is happening in the world, our nation, and our local areas, we also need to protect ourselves from overload. Try to limit your news intake by looking at headlines and then only reading articles from trusted sources one to two times a day for maximum of 15 minutes each or watching one half-hour news program. You need the highlights, not every story. Try to look for reliable reporting that focuses on just giving the facts, not inflating the drama. It can also really help to look for a feel-good story of people helping each other after you read about the tragedy. This is a serious global crisis, but in the face of crisis, we also see how people rise up and band together to support and help each other.

2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit

While it can be tempting to stay in your pajamas eating junk food and watching TV all day, be sure to balance “vegging out” time with other self-care. If possible, get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk. If you can’t get out, try to do some indoor exercise and look out the window to feel connected to the world outside. Eating more comfort food right now is normal, but try to make sure that you are getting a balanced diet and staying hydrated. Also, try to keep to a regular schedule with plenty of sleep and then getting up and dressed to help you feel as normal as possible. Keep an eye on your alcohol or other mood-altering substance intake, because although it can be very tempting to not be present right now, you don’t want to make more problems for yourself.

3. Tap into Your Sense of Fun

If you have kids, look to them for some good old-fashioned playtime. Play hide and seek in the house or create an obstacle course in the back yard. Even if you don’t have kids, you were one once, so try and tap into your silly playful side. Watch some of your favorite funny movies or have a video hangout with your friends. Laughter really is the best medicine, so get plenty of it!

4. Support Your Local Community

Many local businesses are hurting right now. If you’re still getting a paycheck, consider buying a gift card from a local restaurant, gym, hair salon, etc. to give them revenue now and you can use the card later. Or get some take out from your favorite local restaurants. Have you seen posts to help in your local area? Making facemasks, donating CD players for nursing homes, or texting your neighbors to see if anyone is out of TP and offering to share your extra, are all ways to help. These efforts will help others and make you feel great at the same time.

5. Be a Role Model

Remember, your kids will ALWAYS look to you first to see how they should be thinking and feeling about something. Working on your self-care will help you stay calm and able reassure your kids everything will be okay -because it will be. This is the time to look for positive role models in our community and do our best to be one for our friends and family.

6. Use Your Time Constructively

For many of us, there is a silver lining in this situation in the form of extra time. Unless you are working from home and homeschooling your kids, in which case just do your best and tune out all of the extra project talk. But if you do have extra time, consider using this time wisely. Maybe you have an ever-growing list of home projects that you just never have time to tackle or a fun project that just keeps getting pushed off. Now is the time to dive in, keeping you feeling productive and engaged now, and clearing your list to make room for more fun later.

Everyone is going to have a slightly different reaction to this difficult time. If you find yourself becoming too stressed or depressed, I encourage you to reach out for help. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with the stress and learn new coping skills to get you through. I am available for sessions through a secure video platform. Contact me today to set up a free consultation.


SOURCES:

https://www.ucihealth.org/news/2020/03/covid-19-anxiety

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/stress_covid19.pdf

How to Set Healthy Boundaries

February 28, 2020

We all want to have healthy relationships, right? However, if you grew up in a household that was unsafe and unstable, and where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries, you may not know how to build healthy relationships. Many people with this type of past, find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people […]

How to Set Healthy Boundaries

February 28, 2020

We all want to have healthy relationships, right? However, if you grew up in a household that was unsafe and unstable, and where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries, you may not know how to build healthy relationships. Many people with this type of past, find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect boundaries and feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of the other person’s. Relationships can only be healthy when both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their personal integrity.

If you can relate, chances are you have a hard time creating healthy boundaries to create the life experience you wish to have. Here are some ways you can begin to do so:

Identify Your Limits

You can’t set boundaries unless you discover where it is you personally stand. You’ll need to take a bit of time to recognize what you can and cannot tolerate. What makes you happy and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? Use your emotions to help you determine your limits.

Don’t Be Shy, Communicate Your Needs

People who have similar communication styles are easy to engage with. These people will quickly understand what you mean as you explain your new boundaries. Other people, especially those who have different cultural backgrounds or personalities, may not easily understand your boundaries. With these people, it’s important to be very clear and direct with what you want and don’t want.

Pay Attention to Your Feelings

People who have a hard time setting boundaries don’t often allow themselves to acknowledge their own feelings because they’re usually too busy worrying about everyone else’s.

You’ll need to start recognizing how people make you feel in order to know whether your new boundaries are being crossed or not. When you’re with someone, make mental notes, or even jot down in a journal how that interaction made you feel.

If, after spending time with someone, you feel anger or resentment, this is a sign that the person may be overstepping your boundaries. Reiterate to this person what your boundaries are. If they continue to disrespect you and them, you will want to minimize your exposure to further interactions with them and/or have a self-care plan to help you recover.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Put yourself and your needs first. This may feel strange and even somehow wrong if you’ve spent your entire life taking care of others. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and get what you need to feel happy and well.

Speak with Someone

If you’ve spent an entire life with a sense of low self-worth, you may find setting boundaries quite difficult. In this case, it’s important to speak with a therapist that can help you discover where these feelings are coming from and how to change your thought patterns and behavior.

If you’d like to explore therapy, please contact me to schedule a free consultation session.

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

December 23, 2019

What does it mean to have healthy self-esteem? Is it feeling good about how you look? Or accomplishing something big in your life? The reality is, having healthy self-esteem means you like and appreciate yourself faults and all. Good self-esteem can be the difference between being a happy, resilient individual, able to face life’s challenges head-on […]

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

December 23, 2019

What does it mean to have healthy self-esteem? Is it feeling good about how you look? Or accomplishing something big in your life?

The reality is, having healthy self-esteem means you like and appreciate yourself faults and all. Good self-esteem can be the difference between being a happy, resilient individual, able to face life’s challenges head-on and someone who suffers from depression and anxiety and is often overwhelmed with life.

If you have struggled with self-esteem issues, there are some things you can do to free yourself:

Face the REAL Reality

Are you someone that generalizes your lack of self-esteem? By that I mean, do you make generalities about yourself such as, “I’m an idiot,” “I’m not pretty enough or smart enough?” The truth is, we all act like idiots from time-to-time, and most human beings on this planet can find someone who is smarter and more attractive than they are.

If you’re going to work on your self-esteem, you need to first recognize that you often lie to yourself with these generalities. It may be a very convincing lie from your point of view, but it’s still a lie.

To become familiar with reality, make a list of 10 of your strengths and 10 weaknesses. If you have a hard time coming up with your strengths, think about what others have said about you: you’re a good listener, you are thoughtful, you cook a mean burger.

When you’re done making this list, you’ll see there are plenty of things you are really good at. Of course, you have weaknesses too.  Look at that list again. Which weaknesses do you want to work on changing over time? Which are things that are really fine, but you are putting unreasonable expectations on yourself? Which weaknesses are things that are both vulnerabilities and strengths depending on the situation? Like being sensitive, it can be a source of pain and also a great opportunity for connection and creativity.

Forget About Perfection

Perfection doesn’t exist. Now you may think all of those Hollywood A-listers that are on the cover of magazines are the epitome of perfection, but even they are air-brushed, photoshopped, and have a team of people following them around so their hair is never out of place.

Stop spending your energy trying to have the perfect face, body, bank account, career, children or relationships. None of that exists. Focus your energy on achieving attainable goals like finishing a project, making time for an important relationship, and enjoying your hobbies.

Get to Know Your Authentic Self

We spend so much of our lives comparing ourselves to others that we don’t really take the time to get to know ourselves. Beyond strengths and weaknesses, who are you as a person? What makes you happy or excites you? What hobbies do you enjoy? What kind of friend are you?

The more you know about yourself, the more chances that you’ll find things out you really like.

If you would like to speak to someone about your self-esteem issues, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

5 Ways to Effectively Manage Anxiety

December 9, 2019

If you suffer from anxiety, you know how awful it can feel. Your heart races, you start to sweat, and you feel like you just want to run. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States affecting roughly 40 million […]

5 Ways to Effectively Manage Anxiety

December 9, 2019

If you suffer from anxiety, you know how awful it can feel. Your heart races, you start to sweat, and you feel like you just want to run. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States affecting roughly 40 million adults. While anxiety can feel debilitating, there are ways you can manage it.

Slow Your Breathing

When we feel anxious, we go into a “fight or flight” response where our breathing becomes quicker and shallower. However, this way of breathing, in turn, makes us feel even more anxious and it becomes a vicious cycle.

To help, when you feel the anxiety start, focus on your breath and begin to slow it down. Breathe in slowly and deeply for a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, then exhale slowly for a count of 5. Repeat this cycle three to five times until you feel yourself begin to calm. If a 5 count is too long, do what you can and think of slowing and deepening with each breath.

Limit Caffeine

Many of us depend on caffeine to get us going, but drinking or eating anything with caffeine in it can exacerbate your anxiety. Studies have even shown that caffeine can even trigger an anxiety attack, so try and avoid or greatly limit consumption. That includes coffee, tea, energy drinks, and yes even chocolate!

Exercise

Studies have shown that just 20 minutes of exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety. Not only does exercising make you feel good about yourself, it actually floods your body with feel-good endorphins, which can totally turn your mood around. Try to get into a regular exercise program to reduce anxiety and use it to help get rid of the anxiety jitters when they hit.

Make a List

One of the worst parts of feeling anxiety is the feeling that you are out of control. One simple exercise to turn this around is to make a to-do list of small, easy-to-manage tasks. Crossing these tasks off your list will actually empower you and make you feel in control again. You can also use a to-do list to help you organize longer-term projects and feel in control as you check off steps towards getting them done.

Remind Yourself of Reality

When the plane of a nervous flyer hits turbulence, that nervous flyer must remind themselves that the plane is okay, and it is just a normal occurrence to hit turbulence. People who experience anxiety may also have to remind themselves that they are actually okay when an anxiety attack comes on. Tell yourself that you are experiencing anxiety but that you are safe, you are not going to die.

It can also be very beneficial to talk to someone about your anxiety issues. A therapist will be able to offer more tools and advice on how to cope and manage your anxiety.

If you or someone you love suffers from anxiety and would like to explore treatment options, please contact me to schedule a consultation session either in my office or by secure video.

4 Ways to Deal with Social Anxiety at Work

October 21, 2019

Fifteen million Americans, or 6.8% of the US population, suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. SAD, also called social phobia, is an intense fear of being humiliated and embarrassed in social situations. People with this fear tend to focus on every little mistake they make (or could […]

4 Ways to Deal with Social Anxiety at Work

October 21, 2019

Fifteen million Americans, or 6.8% of the US population, suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. SAD, also called social phobia, is an intense fear of being humiliated and embarrassed in social situations. People with this fear tend to focus on every little mistake they make (or could possibly make) and assume that everyone else is judging them.

The most common social phobia is giving a public speech or presentation. Did you know that the number one fear of people all around the world is public speaking and death is the second? That’s right, more people are scared to get up in front of others and speak than they are to die!

Shyness VS SAD

People often confuse shyness with social anxiety disorder. However, the two are very different. While a shy person may be a bit uneasy around others, they will not experience the same intense anxiety as someone with an actual social phobia. Shy people might be uncomfortable, but they don’t go to the extreme avoidance of social situations while those with SAD will often do anything to avoid being in a social gathering.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Extreme and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations where a person is exposed to scrutiny or to unfamiliar people.
  • Panic attacks can occur from even the thought of the social situation.
  • The person recognizes the fear as excessive or irrational, but still cannot control their feelings.
  • The social situation is avoided if at all possible, even to their own detriment.
  • The irrational fears affect the person’s everyday life and interfere with career and personal relationship growth.

Dealing with Social Anxiety Disorder at Work

If your social anxiety is interfering with your career goals, here are four ways you can manage it better:

1. Meditate

Meditation has been scientifically proven to help people calm. By practicing being still and focusing on your breath for just 10 minutes each day, you can develop the ability to settle yourself in the face of anxiety and stress. If you have difficulty meditating on your own, try a guided meditation to support you.

2. Focus on Performance, Not Feelings

People suffering from SAD tend to focus solely on how they feel during a social situation, not what is actually happening. When you focus on what is actually occurring, you will start to forget about your nerves.

As an example, during your next board meeting, don’t focus on whether or not you are blushing or sweating, you can’t control that anyway. Just focus on making good eye contact with everyone in the room. Look for signs that people are engaged – are they looking back, smiling, appearing interested? Focus on connecting with the people who give positive signs and you will leave feeling successful.

3. Try and Be Realistic

It’s important to be realistic in the face of your anxiety. For instance, if you’ve given speeches in the past and have done well, then it is unrealistic to tell yourself that you are “going to bomb.” Instead tell yourself, “I have done well in the past, I am very prepared and I will do a good job.” Remind yourself that it is normal to feel a little anxious before you start, focus on your breathing, and know that you will be fine once you get going.

4. Work with a Therapist

If social anxiety has stopped you from progressing in your work life by getting promotions or building relationships, then it’s time to get some help from a professional therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. He or she can give you coping strategies that will help you move forward in life.

If you or someone you know is suffering from SAD and would like to explore treatment options, please contact me to schedule a free consultation session at my office or online via secure video. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help life feel more comfortable and support you in moving forward with your career.

5 Subtle Exercises to Calm Anxiety in Public

October 7, 2019

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you are one of them, you know how difficult your life can feel most days. When anxiety strikes, the world around us can become distorted like a funhouse, only not fun at […]

5 Subtle Exercises to Calm Anxiety in Public

October 7, 2019

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you are one of them, you know how difficult your life can feel most days.

When anxiety strikes, the world around us can become distorted like a funhouse, only not fun at all. It’s important to be able to self-soothe when this happens, but how can you calm an anxiety attack subtly when you’re out in public?

Breath Work

As soon as you feel the first sign that your anxiety is ramping up, focus intently on your breathing and nothing else. Begin to take slow… deep breaths. Inhale for a slow count of five… hold for a count of five… and exhale for a count of five. If you can’t do a five-count at the start, just think of each breath being a little slower and a little deeper than the one before. Slow deep breaths send a signal to our body that we are not under attack and everything is okay.

Talk to Yourself

In your mind, remind yourself that you are having an experience, but that you are NOT that experience. Check around and assess how likely it is that you are in real danger. While you feel that something is wrong, remind yourself that you are actually safe and all is well.

Visualize

Think of a safe space where you feel calm. This maybe your childhood bedroom or your grandparent’s home. It could be your favorite beach or your own bathtub. Put yourself mentally in that space by focusing on the sensory experiences of being there. Use your full imagination to feel yourself there and allow the calm to settle over you.

Carry Lavender Oil or a Calming Scent

Keep a small vial of lavender oil in your purse or pocket and inhale its scent. You can even rub some between your fingers and then rub on your temples to calm down. If lavender isn’t your thing, try to find a scent that is calming for you. We often strongly associate scents with emotions which can make them powerful supports.

Practice Listening Meditation

If you’ve never tried a Listening Meditation, I highly recommend it for everyone. It can be especially beneficial when you are feeling anxious because listening requires you to stop thinking. Try it now. Stop reading and instead listen to all of the ambient sounds that are in the room with you and outside.

What do you hear?

Let your sense of hearing grow and grow, picking up more subtle sounds. The buzz of the lights overhead… the noise of the ice maker… a bee at the window… your dog’s collar down the hall…

It’s actually a very fun exercise to do. And in order to REALLY GIVE SOUND YOUR FULL ATTENTION, you can’t think while listening. It’s a bit like trying to juggle while standing on your hands, it simply cannot be done.

Much of our anxiety comes from our anxious thoughts. It’s our reptilian brain trying to keep us alive by alerting us to all of the dangers around us. When we meditate, this mind chatter goes away. However, like everything it takes practice. So, if your mind starts worrying again, just gently remind it now it the time for listening and refocus on the sounds.

When an anxiety attack comes on, life can feel unbearable. The next time this happens to you in public, try one or more of these techniques.

If are interested in psychological treatment for your anxiety, please contact me to schedule a free consultation and learn how therapy can help.

5 Free Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

September 23, 2019

When we talk about our mental health, we’re not just talking about dysfunction or a clinical diagnosis. Your mental health refers to your overall psychological wellbeing. We can all benefit from caring for our mental health, just like our physical health. Life is full of unique challenges and stresses, and a healthy mental state can help […]

5 Free Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

September 23, 2019

When we talk about our mental health, we’re not just talking about dysfunction or a clinical diagnosis. Your mental health refers to your overall psychological wellbeing. We can all benefit from caring for our mental health, just like our physical health. Life is full of unique challenges and stresses, and a healthy mental state can help you take challenges in stride and reduce your suffering.

1. Positive Affirmations

Repeating an affirmation can help you focus on the positive and create a mental outlook that will be a driving force in your life. Use a search engine to look up “positive affirmations” and you’ll find several ideas of words and phrases. Look for one that resonates with you and things you struggle with. You can also try searching for something more specific, such as “positive affirmations for women” or “positive affirmations to improve self-esteem”.

Try repeating your phrase or phrases during meditation, either out loud or in your mind. You can also repeat your phrase to yourself throughout your day for a gentle perspective shift and internal mental health support. This practice can help you shift out of a pattern of negative self-talk and negative focus, which will greatly improve your overall mental health.

2. Gratitude

Practicing gratitude will also shift your attention to the positive aspects of your life. By focusing on what’s good, you’ll start to notice and appreciate more positive aspects of your life. Gratitude is more than just a feeling; it’s a choice to prioritize and value the good in your life. By choosing to be grateful, you also reduce the focus on negative thoughts.

3. Eat Healthy

Eating healthy is a vital part of positive mental and physical health. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains will help you maintain stable blood sugar. This creates a consistent level of energy that won’t leave you feeling tired or sluggish or give you the temporary “sugar high” and crash.  Eating healthy supports a stable mood and will also provide a mental boost because you’ll feel good about your healthy food choices.

4. Sunshine

Sunshine is a great way to boost your mood. Put on some comfortable walking shoes and take a leisurely walk around your neighborhood or a local park or even sit outside for a few minutes on your lunch break. Exposure to sunlight will help your brain release serotonin which will boost your mood, and help you feel more calm and focused.

5. Get Some Sleep

A good night’s sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. When you’re well-rested, you’re naturally energized and have a stable base from which to maneuver the day’s ups and downs. Regular sleep also boosts your immune system as well as your cognitive and mental health.

By making some healthy additions to your daily routines, you can develop regular habits that will improve your overall mental well-being.

If you need some help getting into a good self-care routine or dealing with anxiety or depression, therapy can help. Contact me today to set up a consultation session in my office or by secure video to discuss getting started.

4 Ways to Reduce Anxiety on Your Coffee Break

September 3, 2019

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect roughly 40 million people over the age of 18 in the United States. Although these disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those with anxiety seek treatment. There are many reasons why people with anxiety suffer without seeking help, however, you don’t need […]

4 Ways to Reduce Anxiety on Your Coffee Break

September 3, 2019

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect roughly 40 million people over the age of 18 in the United States. Although these disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those with anxiety seek treatment. There are many reasons why people with anxiety suffer without seeking help, however, you don’t need to let anything stop you from starting to help yourself.

Here are some proven strategies that don’t cost a penny and take very little time. In fact, you could do any of the following strategies on your lunch or coffee break. Here are some simple ways to reduce your anxiety:

Breathe Deeply

According to a study published by the Journal of Emergency Medicine, 30% of people who go to the ER with complaints of chest pain are actually suffering from a panic attack. Why is this so common?

When we are stressed or anxious, we tend to over-breathe or under-breathe which can cause dizziness and hyperventilation. Deep breathing is a powerful way to gain control over your breath and stop a panic attack. Studies show taking slow, deep breaths soothes our nervous system and increases brain activity. This makes you feel calmer and more relaxed. Try it for yourself.

Try Listening Meditation

One way to get your mind to settle down is to meditate and one of the easiest ways to meditate is to practice listening meditation. This is exactly what it sounds like. Sit quietly, eyes closed, and begin to listen to the ambient sounds in the room. Try to keep an attitude curiosity and try to avoid judging what you hear. What do you hear? Buzzing lights? A fan? Someone cough? Birds outside? A lawnmower? Just be aware of all the sounds and try and expand that awareness to hear as much as possible. This form of meditation is fun and effective, because you cannot possibly listen, truly listen, and think at the same time.

Take a Walk

Nervous energy needs to go somewhere – it has to be burned. Taking a 15- minute walk around the block can be a great way to get rid of this energy while breathing deeply. As a bonus, your body releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins when you exercise. If you walk outside, you can get an extra boost by noticing nature elements which are also calming.

Don’t Drink Coffee

Yes, I am asking you on your coffee break to not drink coffee or soda. Caffeine and sugar can exacerbate anxiety by making us feel jittery and nervous. You are far better off sticking with water and a healthy snack.

I hope you will give these anxiety-busting strategies a try. If you feel they are not helping as much as you need and you would like to speak with someone, please contact my office to schedule a consultation.

3 Ways to Kindly Say “No” to Invites for Introverts

August 5, 2019

Life can easily feel overwhelming when you’re an introvert. Social interactions that feel simple for many people, can make you feel anxious and uncomfortable. Even the idea of taking part in certain social events can be exhausting and emotionally draining. While some social functions cannot be missed, such as business meetings, there are social gatherings […]

3 Ways to Kindly Say “No” to Invites for Introverts

August 5, 2019

Life can easily feel overwhelming when you’re an introvert. Social interactions that feel simple for many people, can make you feel anxious and uncomfortable. Even the idea of taking part in certain social events can be exhausting and emotionally draining.

While some social functions cannot be missed, such as business meetings, there are social gatherings that it is totally okay for you to say no. However, it may feel almost as uncomfortable to you to reject the invitation as to attend the party or event.  It is important to know when to put your own needs ahead of others and have a plan to assert yourself.

If you are an introvert that generally has a hard time saying no to invitations, here are some ways you can do it kindly:

Be Honest-ish

We tend to feel a lot of pressure to give myriad details on why we can’t accept an invite to an event. If we don’t have a “good enough” excuse, some of us will blatantly lie. This leads to more problems, as the lie compromises our integrity and makes us feel worse.

There is no need to lie and no need to give more details than necessary. You can simply say, “Thanks so much but I already have plans.” This is true because we all have plans all of the time. You may plan on doing the laundry that night or watching Game of Thrones while eating pistachio ice cream (which is a great plan, BTW). There is no need for others to validate your plans, you have a right to choose.

Be Gracious

Before saying “no,” be gracious and thank the person very much for inviting you in the first place. It will make the other person feel good that they made you feel good by thinking of you. You can always appreciate the intention of kindness while saying no to the activity. You might even counter with a proposal that feels more comfortable to you, “thank you for the invitation to your birthday party, I appreciate you thinking of me. I can’t make the party, but I would love to take you out for lunch to celebrate.”

Practice What to Say

It’s easy to say no in a text or email, but sometimes in person saying no can feel incredibly awkward. The best thing to do is just practice saying, “Thank you so much for asking, but I already have plans that day/evening.” Even better find your own words to summarize appreciating the offer and declining, so that it comes out naturally and so that you feel at ease saying it.

One caveat to this is to make sure that you really want to say no and it doesn’t become your default. Before saying no to an invitation weigh the pros and cons. Saying no is safer, but you might miss out on some great opportunities. Consider how much you have planned for that week, and the balance of alone time and social activities. Being introverted can get pretty lonely at times if you always choose the comfortable option. Saying yes once in a while may not be as bad as you think. You can always choose the less overwhelming opportunities and say no the huge, loud party. You never know the kind of fun you could have or new friends you could make.

If you are an introvert who is feeling isolated and lonely, but finds that you are too anxious to be social, therapy can help. Contact me today for a free consultation session!