You asked. We asked the expert.
Posted by Adam Meads
The other day we asked you, how we can help you during this time. 3 things cropped up. How can I stay calm? How can I help my anxiety? How can I stay positive right now? So we asked Psychotherapist Catherine Asta.
How can I keep positive?
There is huge uncertainty right now, and uncertainty isn’t something we cope with very well.
We are all feeling a sense of loss – from the routines we had, our work, human contact, space and the freedom to travel and explore. We are creatures of habit and we are finding it difficult to plan ahead, we don’t know what life is going to look like tomorrow, or next week, or in a few weeks or months.
Our minds are overloaded right now with information, facts, figures, opinions, advice, news and worse case scenarios. So do whatever you need to do to reduce that mental overload and protect your head space.
Mental distancing is something we can all practice to help keep our minds positive. It might look like:
1. Minimising the amount of time watching the news. Find a couple of trusted news sources and only check updates once or twice a day.
2. Don’t be afraid to mute or unfollow people or group chats if the information they are sharing is triggering you.
3. Switching your phone off for a while and do something that distracts you from your thoughts. Focus on something that isn’t linked to the here and now. Keep focused on your longer-term goals. Facetime your family and your cheerleaders.
4. Looking for the positive stories of kindness and compassion and doing something kind. There is evidence that when we engage in kindness, that it lowers our blood pressure and it has therapeutic benefits too.
5. Only working on the basis of what you know today.
How can I feel calmer?
Your body is doing what it is programmed to do, it’s producing a stress response to a situation you’ve never experienced before. It’s like an inner warning system to force you to take action. It might look like:
· Sadness, irritability, anger
· Lack of concentration
· Social withdrawal
· Headaches, teeth grinding, jaw clenching
· Tiredness, fatigue
· Not being able to sleep
And your immediate response might be to soothe that emotional pain with unhealthy coping mechanisms. But what is important is that you are able to recognise your stress response, and then find some healthy ways of coping.
Manage what you can and let go of the things you can’t. Life has changed, so please lower your expectations on yourself.
You aren’t superhuman. The thought of trying to juggle work, children, lack of personal space, being socially isolated from the daily contact you thrive on and adapting to a life where your world has shrunk means adjusting. Take control over the things you can control.
How do I manage the anxious feelings I have?
Only a week or so ago we were going about our lives as normal and now we’re home schooling our kids, living 24/7 with our partners or facing social isolation alone. Our work routines have changed or we might have lost our work entirely. Add to that the fear of loved ones health and the loneliness from social isolation – our lives have changed and plans have been put on hold.
What you are feeling, on both an emotional and physical level is a very normal reaction to the fear you are feeling, and I want you to know that it’s okay to feel what you are feeling.
But the thing with anxiety is that it takes us into the future. We start overthinking and applying a huge amount of mental energy into trying to work out what *might* happen.
Whenever you feel anxious or a loved one is showing signs of anxiety use this 3 step secure base exercise to work through the anxious thoughts and to bring you back to your secure base. It helps you take some control over your thoughts and your situation:
1. Is what you are worrying about something you have the power to control?
2. Is what you are worrying about something you have the power to solve?
3. Is what you are worrying about likely to happen?
Catherine Asta is a multi-award winning female focused Psychotherapist and impassioned champion of women and their stories. She has transformed hundreds of women and has spent thousands of hours inside the minds of women. The resident psychotherapist on the award winning Stephanie Hirst show on BBC Radio Leeds and the resident well-being expert at John Lewis Leeds and featured expert in the national media, and Female Focused Therapy from the comfort of your own space, wherever you are in the world.