Sometimes the world feels like a scary place, and today is one of those days for me. I am avoiding the news, it feels too dark, too heavy and just too much to contemplate, especially after living through a pandemic. I feel a bit like I have been standing in a sandstorm; I feel RAW.
Firstly, I would like to send my love and best vibes to the people of the Ukraine. I cannot imagine how much more frightening this is for you and your loved ones. I pray that a resolution will be found, and quickly.
But, what can you do when you're staring down the beast that is anxiety?
I don't think there is an easy answer; it's partly riding the wave (and I am not a mental health professional; just someone who struggles with her own mental health.) But here are 3 techniques I find helpful:
1) Try to focus on right now
In this exact moment, are you OK? That is the place to focus your attention. Concentrating on your breath is a good place to start. Breathe in fully, breathe out fully. Repeat a few times. Try to focus on the texture of the breath (what does it feel like? At your nostril? In your chest? In your throat?) Sometimes I find counting helpful - breathe in for the count of 6, hold your breath for 7, breathe out to the count of 8. Stay in this stage for as long as you need to. If you don't like the breathing exercise, try instead to focus on every part of your body in sequence, from your head to your toes, and relax each bit. Sit quietly for a few minutes and focus on being as quiet and as relaxed as you can possibly manage. If you need prompting, search for 'yoga nidra' meditations on YouTube.
2) Occupy the brain gremlins
Keeping your focus in the here and now is helpful, so give those brain gremlins something else to do than worry.
One technique I like is a sensory one. Go through each of your senses in order, and try to name 3 things you notice with each sense. So, right now I can hear: the fish tank bubbling, the gas meter ticking and traffic on the road outside. I can smell: dinner cooking, the perfume I am wearing. I can see... You get the picture. Some senses are harder to nail than others.
Another favourite of mine, especially in the wee small hours of the morning (isn't that always the time that the terror has the worst grip?!) is an alphabet task. Go through the alphabet letter by letter and come up with answers to a theme that start with that letter. So - if the theme is 'Towns and Cities of the UK' you might come up with:
A - Aldershot, Alcester, Accrington
B - Birmingham, Barnsley, Bromsgrove
C - Cardiff, Caernarfon, Canterbury
If the theme is 'girls names' -
A - Abigail, Alice, Angela
B - Bunty, Bobbi, Belinda
C - Claire, Catherine, Carrie
and so on.
You can make it as easy or as hard as you like by varying the theme and the amount of answers per letter you need to come up with. Or just choose one per letter and, when you get to Z, start again.
BONUS POINTS if you can do this, whilst continuing to relax your muscles and breathe deeply - you clever little sausage, you.
Humour is my go-to when I am worried about something. I often search You Tube for old comedy shows and stand up comedians. Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You and Live At The Apollo are all favourites of mine. Failing that KITTENS AND PUPPIES videos are always a brilliant place to cheer me up.
OR - if this is not too gross, have a mooch around a shop whose products make you smile 😉 You don't have to buy anything, you just have to lighten the mood a little.
I genuinely hope these tips help a little. Sending a MASSIVE HUG TO YOU, and vibes / prayers (whatever you believe in) that things will be resolved quickly and as painlessly as possible.
Lots of love