Updated: Apr 24, 2020
While we are all obeying the Safer At Home self-quarantine you might also be experiencing moments of anxiety because this time feels uncertain. When we are facing unknown factors that cause us to feel uncertain our anxiety can increase. Anxious feelings are usually not pleasant and can also be difficult to stop. I would like to remind you of a couple of things that might help you to understand and manage anxiety right now.
1. Anxiety is a fear-based response to our perceptions of the future that comes from the part of the brain that works to protect us from harm. However, our amazing brain can spin this out of control and create all kinds of scenes that may or may not even happen. In order to manage our anxiety try the following when you feel it creeping up in your body:
Take a deep breath in through your nose for 4 seconds and blow it out through your mouth for 5 seconds. Picture yourself breathing in the sweet aroma of a beautiful flower or a delicious pizza and then blowing out birthday candles or bubbles through a bubble wand. (This works for kids, too!) Do this several times until you feel your body starting to relax. Once you can get your body to relax you can start to work with your brain to manage your anxious thoughts.
2. Next, remember that we have no way of predicting the future so what you are even worried about may not even come to pass. Keep yourself in the present moment. We do have control over the present moment and how we respond.
If you are having trouble staying in the present moment you can use some grounding skills to bring you back to the here and now such as the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique. Try to notice your surroundings and name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This will work for kids, too!
When working with our children and family members remember that they will also pick up on your emotions so it is important to take good care of yourself so you can take good care of them. It’s important to help our children feel safe. This can be done through maintaining routines and providing comfort as well as limiting their exposure to the news. It is also important to answer their questions on a level that they can understand. Honesty is important, too, but on a level they can understand.
Practice self-care. Using self-care does not mean you are selfish it means that you value others so you will put time into caring for yourself so you can continue to care for others. Self-care is taking a break from the news, your work, your chores and anything else that you do in your day to spend a few moments recharging your energy. Talking a walk in the fresh air (using social distancing) is a wonderful way to unplug for a few moments. Yoga, meditation, reading a book, listening to music, exercising, doing a craft, puzzle or coloring or anything healthy that helps you clear your mind are great ways to recharge.
Please continue to self-quarantine and practice social distancing. You are important and you matter. Stay safe. We will get through this and come out stronger on the other side.
Cecelia A. Bushery, MA, LMHC
If you are in crisis, please remember that the following services are available to speak or text with you 24/7:
NAMI 24/7 Crisis Text Line: Text “NAMI” TO 741741
Family Help Line: 727-791-3434
Peer Support Help Line: 727-600-5838
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
Pinellas County Mobile Crisis Response Team: 727-362-4424
Suicide/Emergency Hotline – Pinellas County: 727-791-3131
Crisis Center of Tampa Bay (for financial, mental health or domestic violence issues): Dial 211
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
24 HOUR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: (727) 895-4912 | TTY: (727) 828-1269
OUTSIDE PINELLAS COUNTY: (800) 500-1119 | TTY: (800) 621-4202
The Haven: Domestic Violence Hotline: (727) 442-4128, TDD: (727) 223-4946
Rape Crisis Line – Local: 727-530-7273