Anxiety is a lie.... it is the fear of something that hasn't happened... it is the seed that is planted that can make functioning difficult at times. We don't want to tell ourselves that lie, but it is usually focused on the one value that means the most to you.
For instance, our contributor here is afraid they can't do it. They are alone in a BIG job and although they ARE doing it... everyday, they are constantly aware of the size of the job and what it takes and are afraid that at any moment they can't do it. Anxiety comes from the negative messages we tell ourselves... I can't do this ALONE, I CAN'T DO THIS. Rationally they may know they can, but fear of the future and what will happen if they don't is an emotional response that keeps the anxiety in play. What can they lose? The number one most important thing they have. Their children. Life with their children. Attachments and safety.
We all face times of trouble and when we do, we have to stay out of the weeds - the anxiety, the irrational lie we tell ourselves.
Keeping your eyes on the prize of those little lives are what continues to give them strength to persevere through the fear and doubt, because the love they feel for their children is even bigger than that anxiety. We are grateful to our contributor for sharing their struggles and we hope this will help you with yours.
It’s the greatest, most joyful, chaotic, tremendous trial most will face in their lifetime. All the clichés are true. It’s a tough job and the job is the reward. There's technically no wrong way to do it and all the books you might read don’t really prepare you for the joyous torture of becoming a parent. So, inevitably, we turn to our fellow parents/peers and the internet to compare notes.
Parenting has been a very revealing journey for myself. Over the years, layer after layer of who I am has been revealed to me through parenting. I’ve learned so much about myself through the entire process. I've learned things like patience; the ever expanding/swelling love that inhabits your entire body. Patience. I've felt the pride that infects you when you see your children do the most menial task on their own and then even MORE PATIENCE is called for!
We envision ourselves as parents but we don’t really have the colors to paint it correctly until we live it. The trials we face every day with our children are some days overwhelming, but we press on. We have to.
I am a single parent now and have to say, it was a little easier when I wasn’t solo. I have a little help but because they’re my children I feel more responsible and that can make for a real stressful life when you have young ones. You always feel on high alert. The anxiety that comes with that can be suffocating and defeating if you let it get the best of you. I’ve had a good team of people in my corner who give great emotional support but that doesn’t stop the feelings of doubt that torments my mind at pretty much all hours.
Some days are harder than others and some are pretty easy, because I’ve learned through the years that I’m stronger than my anxiety. Simple breathing and counting one's obvious successes (especially in parenting) can be a very reassuring method to calm oneself when you keep feeling like you “can’t do it”. Having a good support system is also imperative for me. The people in our lives will make our lives better or worse. Make sure the ones you keep around do the former.
Working on anxiety and the fears I have about not being able to do it has helped reduce the negative messages I tell myself and has given me a way to remember the good.
The ultimate conqueror of my anxiety however is my children. Yes, they stress you out but they are the most important thing in my life. When my little ones smile at me, look at me, talk to me, run to me/away from me or even try to cover something up that they did wrong, my heart melts a little. When I have them in my arms I’m at peace. I know I can. I had to find a totem to manage my anxiety, and my children are definitely my totem. I WILL... for them, even when I am afraid I can't.
- Anonymous Contributor
What is depression? Depression can be characterized by feelings of low motivation, sadness, and lack of hope for things to get better. It may look like irritability and impatience. When someone rejects themselves, they may portray that rejection onto others. Those that love them may feel powerless to help. Depression is hard to deal with and can be debilitating.
Dysthymia (Pervasive Depressive Disorder) is a low grade depression that often begins in childhood. Children are often 'forced to perform' and their feelings are not recognized until they escalate and help comes a little late. Children with Dysthymia can be misdiagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD or anxiety. Dysthymia often turns into depression for adults. Although anxiety is also an issue for many who have depressive disorders, it is often not the primary issue and it will receive treatment over depression.
Another way to conceptualize depressive symptoms is having a disconnection with the best parts of yourself, you feel lost and blocked from realizing the goodness in life. It is riddled with negative beliefs of self and deep emotions that are hard to overcome.
EMDR can help. MFCC deeply appreciates the vulnerability and willingness of this contributor to share their road to healing with EMDR treatment.
2020... 20. 20. Wow.
2020 was hard on so many of us and 2021 does not appear to have much better in store for many of us.
2020 was both the hardest, worst, most disheartening year and the best, most profoundly transformative and empowering year I have ever had. As painful, disgusting, disappointing and full of despair as 2020 was for everyone, I am incredibly grateful for 2020. It is not lost on me how profoundly privileged I must be to be able to say that. I wish with all of me that all of us could say it.
Throughout my life I have often been told "self-care, no matter how hard it can be, is always the first step in being well". Before 2020, I always thought to myself "Sounds like victim blaming/shaming" and "I'm too depressed to care for myself, how am I ever going to get out of this cycle?" It never seemed to ring true for me.
My whole life I have battled deep, persistent dysthymic depression. I know just how impossible it can feel to even do the most basic tasks like getting out of bed to go melt in the couch instead of moldering on the mattress. Sometimes you can't even do that and feel shame because it doesn't help, it just makes it worse, creating a seemingly endless loop of personal degradation.
Our society had a terrible start to 2020 but for myself I should have been happy. I am privileged enough by happenstance that I wasn't personally suffering in a tangible way from our country’s social and political woes. I should have been ecstatic after finally reaping the rewards of all the exceedingly hard work and strife my partner and I had endured for the past several years. This should have been one of the happiest times of my life, personally. Among many other substantial hard-won triumphs, I had finally purchased my first home with the love of my life. We had been through so much, so many let-downs and disappointments and so much hard work and delayed gratification to overcome those setbacks and now we were finally able to breath, to relax our shoulders.
Nevertheless, early in 2020, deep into winter, I was suffocating under layers of seasonal affective disorder, anxiety, and despair over the state and potential future of our society, so much injustice and suffering, it was all I could do to bear it. Everything was bleak and I was steadily sinking into the thick, sucking bog of nihilistic hopelessness. I was doing the absolute minimum to keep myself alive and even that seemed pointless. I saw no point in doing anything, no point in anything at all which I eventually realized also meant "no point in NOT trying something, anything new". So, at the suggestion (pleading) of someone very near and dear to me, I finally tried EMDR therapy after hearing about it for years. I had already given up so why not give in? Within a few one-hour EMDR sessions I finally internalized that idea that was always being pushed on me "self-care is always the first step in being well". Self-care isn't always administered by one's self; sometimes it only needs initiation or acceptance by one's self. I had to accept the help.
I will be eternally, indescribably grateful that person pushed me to push myself one more time. My sessions allowed me to shed so much emotional weight that I could finally see a twinkle of light at the end of my tunnel of despair. I realized I had forgotten myself and with EMDR I was finally starting to remember, to feel like the me I had forgotten. To me, it felt miraculous; it felt like magic. I had let go of hope but now I had the clarity to realize I didn't need hope, hope doesn’t help, I needed action. EMDR took off enough of that crushing emotional weight and numbness that I could move again. EMDR didn't do the work. It allowed me to. In the wake of the deepest depression of my 35 years I knew I could do it again.
Once I had movement, I had progress. Once I had progress, I had desire. Once I had desire, I had successes again. Little successes. Once I had successes, I had self-worth again. I could do something that felt impossible; I could love myself again. Now I could achieve big successes again.
I mean this all very literally. I had the desire and the motivation to move, to eat well, to stay hydrated, to exercise, to laugh, to love, to work, to quit smoking, to eat well, to improve my physical fitness, to finish projects, to care for my loved ones and pets. I had a clarity I cannot remember ever enjoying in all my 35 years.
I cannot adequately articulate the amount of positive transformation I experienced in 2020 IN SPITE OF 2020, all thanks to the cascading effects I experienced from giving in to EMDR therapy.
My experience was profound, and I have healed and I have grown. I keep going to EMDR sessions because now I am experiencing additive benefits and continued growth beyond healing my past traumas and managing my depression. I am learning to overcome life's challenges with healthy and efficient skills as they come up. I am seeing huge leaps in my productivity and performance and I feel a sustained sense of well-being I never knew before. Every one of us has had a different journey and I would never compare my struggles to another's, but I can't help but believe that if I can find such profound relief in this therapy it can offer help to anyone.
I hope you give EMDR a chance in 2021.
Contributed by Tyler Finders, Therapy Intern
Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote, “[Anyone] who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” Philosophers, psychologists, theologians, cab drivers, construction workers, etc. have all wondered, “Why?” Why are we here? Why is this happening to me? Why? Dr. Viktor Frankl devoted his life work to develop a therapeutic technique called logotherapy or meaning-centered therapy. This therapeutic technique helped individuals tackle one of life’s most difficult answers, “What is the meaning of life?” However, Frankl discovered that the task of finding ultimate meaning is futile and can lead to hopelessness. In his book The Doctor and the Soul, Frankl (1986) wrote, “In life, too, the peaks decide the meaningfulness of the life, and a single moment can retroactively flood an entire life with meaning.” To put it simply, meaning is found in the moment. The cloud of depression, anxiety, stress, grief, loss, suffering, and life can block our view of meaningful moments. How can find meaning in times of ultimate suffering? The following questions help explore various peaks that can occur daily and meaning that is found in the moment.
What gifts have you given others today? This question reflects upon your creative values. Creative values can be found in innate gifts to others, talents in your work, deeds done for others, and/or goals achieved that hold meaning for you. What did you achieve at work/school today? What did you do today that brought joy to another person? What can you do tomorrow that gives life to another being?
What gifts have you received today? This next question explores the next set of values, experiential. These values are experiences that you receive from relationships, nature, cultural or religion. Watching the sunrise, hearing the birds chirp, seeing a loved one smile, oxygen filling your lungs, or enjoying a special holiday. These are all examples of experiential values. How do meaningful experiences make you feel?
When all is lost, what is my attitude towards life? This final value is called an attitudinal value. This third value is found in the absence of creative or experiential values. When life is not “fruitful in creation or rich in experience,” what is your attitude towards life (Frankl, 1986)? What have you learned about yourself when enduring suffering? When courageously confronting life’s greatest challenges, where do you find hope?
Learn from your answers and refocus through these values. When engaging in trying and difficult times, use creativity, experiences, and a new outlook to give life meaning in the moment. Even though all may be lost, these values will continue to persist. Even in the darkest valleys, there is a mountain to climb and peaks to be experienced.
Frankl, V. E. (1986). The doctor and the soul: From psychotherapy to logotherapy. New York: Vintage Books.
Contributed by Jennifer Haidar, LMSW
My friends and family know that I love to take walks even on the coldest days of the year; however, no matter how much I enjoy my winter walks, every year around this time, I notice my body starts to tense as I anticipate the inevitable. Winter. All summer long, I can walk unencumbered by layers of clothing and let the warmth settle in and soothe me. Summer feels like an easy season.
By late fall, on mornings where frost sprinkles the grass, my first reaction is to resist the changing of the guard. Inside, I start to feel unsettled too. Letting go of the warmth is hard for me. Letting go of ample sunlight is even more difficult. Yet slowly, if I begin to let go of summer and wish the geese well as they fly south, I can start to welcome the crispness in the air and the certainty of winter. I can fall in love with the stillness of winter all over again.
When I am open to the changes around me, I start to notice each season can be full of abundance. For anyone who has experienced a climate with four distinct seasons, they know firsthand how each season totes its own tastes, sights, sounds and experiences.
As we settle into fall and then winter, I also think about other things I resist, beyond the falling temperatures. Perhaps I have been resisting a new friendship that could actually bring more joy into my life. Maybe I have resisted my heart’s prodding to ask a family member for forgiveness because it means I may have been wrong. It may be I am resisting feelings of isolation and sadness because it means I will have to remember a painful memory that tries to tell me lies about myself. Most definitely, I have resisted taking another look at why I feel so angry because it feels safer to say I’m fine.
This fall, I encourage you to ask yourself what it is you have been resisting. Like me, it could be the weather, but I imagine, because you are human, there is more. As you sit with what you resist, try for a moment to let the feelings emerge. It could be hurt. Recognize it. It could be fear. Sit with it. Or maybe it is shame. Ask why it is there and what it needs. As you invite these feelings, listen to their stories and see what you can learn about yourself.
You might be amazed by how much you can discover when you welcome into your life what you have been resisting. You may actually begin to be grateful for these feelings you have resisted, because by opening up to them, you may feel lighter and less burdened, you might learn something new, or you might find a new and better way forward.
At times, the feelings you have resisted may be too difficult to uncover and revisit alone. During these times, you may need the help of a trusted friend, a mental health provider or spiritual director. Remember, you do not have to do the hard work of feeling and healing alone.
Contributed by Sarah Rowat, MS, LMHC-P
Many of us have an inner dialogue in our heads that I like to call the “inner critic”. These are thoughts that tell us things like “you should be working harder” or “you shouldn’t be eating that”. This inner critic could have developed in a variety of ways - internalizing the voice of an overly critical parent or societal expectations for productivity and beauty, for example. When an inner dialogue starts with “You should…”, I can almost guarantee a kind and gentle thought filled with self-compassion is not about to follow. A thought starting with “You should…” is typically rooted in anxiety or guilt that we aren’t doing enough, that we’re doing things wrong, or that we’re a failure. For many of us, our inner dialogue is much harsher than anything we would ever say to a friend.
There is a lot going on in our world and in our lives today. We are collectively and individually adjusting to new school schedules, new workplace norms, new awakenings about ourselves and our way of life, and new ways of being in relationship with each other. In the midst of these, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. Know that you are doing enough, you are trying hard enough, you are enough.
I invite you to practice gentleness and self-compassion with the meditation below:
Firmly place one hand in the center of your chest and one hand on your belly. Slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Slowly repeat after me: I am enough as I am. I am working hard enough. I am trying hard enough. I am doing enough. I am enough as I am. Take another slow, deep breathe, in through your nose, out through your mouth.
I invite you to try this practice of gentleness and self-compassion each morning or each night before bed.
I would also like to offer a poem by Mary Oliver to help bring gentleness into our beings.
By Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Contributed by Brianne Holtkamp, M.A., LMHC-P
What would you do if your best friend said they were unlovable? Most likely, you would jump right in without hesitation and tell them all the reasons why you love them and why their belief is untrue. Oddly enough, you have most likely thought or felt this about yourself and have neglected to extend the same compassion that you have so readily provided to your friends for yourself. Maybe it is not the thought of being unlovable for you, rather it might sound something like, “I can’t ever get it right” or “I will never be good enough”. Unfortunately, most people are no stranger to these thoughts. Now the question stands, how do you begin to show the same compassion to yourself that you would for a friend?
Dr. Kristin Neff is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. In her book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, Dr. Neff states, “having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness.” When you accept imperfections and disappointments as part of the human experience, you learn to develop a gentle kindness toward yourself. Knowing and accepting this reality encourages you to appreciate and learn from your shortcomings, rather than criticize and place judgement on yourself. Ultimately, when you consistently engage in personal scrutiny, you begin to avoid experiences that could lend themselves to failure which deny you opportunities to develop resilience, personal growth, and your full potential.
There are four steps to take to begin practicing self-compassion. First, you must acknowledge and become aware of your suffering. Learn to check in with yourself and evaluate what you're feeling. However, when you open this door, you may feel as if your emotions have become more intense and overwhelming. This leads us to the next step of grounding. In the second step, it is important to practice deep breathing and mindfulness exercises to avoid becoming consumed by these emotions. There are a number of resources online if you simply search mindfulness activities! The third step involves checking in and becoming more aware of your own personal judgments and criticisms. What negative messages are you sending yourself? These judgments may have become such a natural part of your thought processes that you fail to notice their effects. In the fourth and final step, be a friend to yourself. Embrace your failures and show yourself the same compassion that you have shown to others. Remind yourself of your value and worth and give yourself what you need in that moment.
If you wish to learn more, use the link below to assess your own level of self-compassion and begin exploring the practice of being kind to yourself!
Test how self-compassionate you are | Kristin Neff
Contributed by Sarah Cammoun, LMHC
If you are one of the many people seeing a therapist, there might be a lot of talk about coping skills. Current events have made our ability to cope and access to our normal coping skills difficult. We are being told to stay inside and away from people. However, just because we are not able to go to stores and public areas does not mean we cannot spend some time outside. After all, it is good for our mental health and for some, it is as easy as stepping outside the front door.
Being outside gives us direct access to sunlight, which is the best natural source of Vitamin D and difficult to get purely from food. People that spend time outdoors may experience a more positive mood, better cognitive function, increased ability to focus and decreased anxiety.
Here are a few reasons why Vitamin D and sunshine can result in these changes!
Just make sure you do not forget your sunscreen!
*The contents of this blog are not meant to be medical advice, consult your physician if you have questions about this information.
Our world is changing and we are just getting started in our time of working at home. I know that many people are much more productive when working at home and some struggle to stay productive, depending on what you are doing. We are all trying to do our best in our situations.
Here at MFCC we are getting things up and running to help people feel comfortable with virtual and telephonic sessions and helping them deal with life's challenges.
We are so grateful we have the option of working from home to help meet our client's needs! Although we have provided telehealth for a long time, this change came so fast and mandated we had full capacity to provide this type of service. We had to be responsive to this need very quickly. Our team excelled with that!
We may be working from home for a while and self care is very important!
Taking care of yourself for work looks a bit different for everyone, but here are some ideas that may help.
1) Make sure you stick to a routine
Get up at same time, shower, eat at the same time and spend some 'happy' time in the morning before you start your day.
2) Fit unstructured time into your routine - Plan some time where you don't have to do anything unless you want to!
3) Hydrate hourly - tea, airborne, water, kombucha and other good for you liquids
4) Move your body hourly - it gets so easy to sit in one spot when we are in our 'flow', but it can also be a detriment to your work if you get too stiff or have headaches from too much screen time.
5) Exercise 2 - 3 times during your work day, 10-15 minutes each is enough
Dance, bike around the block, Yoga in the yard or your living room, walk or jog around the block, play with your pet, do some cartwheels in the yard, jump rope, do your favorite childhood exercise.
6) Laugh! Find something to laugh about. Watch a funny video, call someone who makes you laugh or read something funny. You can "fake it" - your brain doesn't care if it starts out fake because it moves to real after a min, you still get good endorphins from laughing!
7) Listen to music - low and soothing or upbeat and energizing depending on what you need at that time.
8) Pay attention to your connections - people who are important to you, make a call to check on someone who is fragile.
9) Boredom: do a project, clean your closet, donate things that don't bring you joy, soak your feet, read a book, do your own nails, color in a coloring book, take a bath, give yourself a facial, go for a run, clean up the yard, begin planting your seeds in the house, trim a tree, clean out the basement, dust of the exercise equipment and use it. ... what else can you think of doing that we never remember when we are bored.
10) Power naps are good! 10 - 15 min, set your alarm and concentrate on your breathing for deep relaxation! or use a meditation app - Calm or Head Space.
I sincerely hope you are staying safe and well in these uncertain times. We are here if you need us!
Contributed by Erin Carter, LMHC
How’s everybody feeling?
Things are a little scary out there right now. The World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, a pandemic. The news is filled with stories about cancelled events, closed schools, stores sold out of toilet paper, and possible damaging effects to our economy. And the cause of all this disruption is sneaky, invisible, and could be anywhere.
For those already struggling with the symptoms of clinical anxiety, the news of COVID-19 can be overwhelming. Even those who don’t normally find themselves anxious might be noticing some anxiety symptoms in this environment. So what can we do to try to prevent or manage these symptoms so we can feel better and be more effective in our lives?
Anxiety at its Best
Let’s start by thinking about the function of anxiety: anxiety at its best. John Bowlby, a psychologist and psychiatrist whose theory on attachment between infants and parents has changed the way we see the development of many mental disorders, once wrote that, “clinical conditions can be best understood as a disordered version of a healthy response.” In other words, symptoms involved in anxiety, depression, and other problems that affect our mood and thinking can be normal, healthy, and helpful under the right circumstances. At its best, anxiety functions to warn us of danger and spur us to take actions that keep us safe.
Anxiety, really another word for ongoing fear, occurs when a small region of the brain called the hypothalamus detects a threat. The hypothalamus communicates with other parts of the brain and the endocrine system to release a cascade of physiological and cognitive responses, all geared toward helping us survive the threat. If we round a corner and find ourselves facing a lion, we might need to run away or fight it off. Toward that end, when our brain detects a threat, it releases chemicals that get our muscles ready for action, speeds up our heart rate and breathing, and sends our body’s resources away from our digestive system. So, we might experience a jittery feeling, racing heart, a feeling like we need to get more air, and upset stomach.
When our brain detects a threat, it wants us to focus intensely on surviving, and to take it seriously. So we might experience racing thoughts, find it difficult to control our worry, and have trouble thinking things through. When this goes on for a while, we may have trouble relaxing enough to get to sleep, or find that our bodies are waking us up in the night. Eventually, we might find ourselves avoiding places or activities that we really can’t afford to avoid, because our brain tells us that they’re dangerous.
We can see how all of this is very helpful if we’re facing down a lion. But when the threat is everyday life--financial concerns, family stress, or world events that are out of our control--these responses aren’t so helpful and can become problems in and of themselves. We can help ourselves by remembering what anxiety is at its best: a warning, and a spur to helpful action.
Taking Purposeful Action
For those of us noticing that we’re getting a warning about COVID-19 from our bodies and brains, let’s take a minute and be glad that we have a working alarm system. Good. We’re functioning the way we’re supposed to, more or less. Now let’s think about how to turn that warning into purposeful and useful actions that reduce our risk.
Experts such as the Center for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html) are recommending actions that, for the most part, are easy for us all to take:
Additionally, experts are indicating that those most at risk of serious symptoms of novel coronavirus are those that are medically fragile, and have health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. So one helpful action that our anxiety can spur us toward is to improve our health as much as possible right now:
Put COVID-19 on Mute
We can do these things to make use of the function of our anxiety, but we can also take some steps to try to keep it from misbehaving. Anxiety has a tendency to keep us thinking about whatever we’re scared of, going over and over it in our mind, letting our fears about what could happen grow and grow. Let’s stop that. Television and social media are offering nonstop coronavirus information right now, and while some of it is from good, reliable, measured sources, some of it is misleading, sensationalistic, and seems designed to exploit our fears for clicks or airtime. Let’s be discerning, get the information we need from sources we know are reliable, and then let’s take a news break. If social media is constantly putting articles in front of you that keep your anxiety high, step away from social media.
Next, take some time to figure out exactly what you’re feeling; give your emotions a name. Are you feeling nervous, frustrated, scared, angry, or confused? More than one thing at a time? Where do you notice those things in your body? Upset stomach, headache, tension in your back? Then think about what might be the meaning of these emotions? Are you feeling unsettled because you’re out of your routine? Are you frustrated because the kids have questions you don’t have the answers to? Identifying these emotions, how you’re feeling them physically, and what they signify can make them easier to tolerate.
In addition, find ways to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness refers to being present in the moment, in the here and now, noticing what you notice, and it is a research-backed practice that can be effective in managing anxiety. When you’re feeling panicked, take a minute to get quiet and notice what you hear, what you see, what you feel on your skin, how the sun or wind feels, how the breath feels going in and out of your body, and how the ground feels beneath your feet. Mindfulness exercises are as simple as this, and you can easily find others online.
Improve your social support. While we should be avoiding the physical presence of others who are sick or who we could make sick, isolating ourselves with our worries won’t do us any good. Reach out to trusted others who are a source of support. Additionally, this is a good time to think of others around us who might be vulnerable to the loss of certain institutions that are closing their doors temporarily, such as kids who count on school lunches or home-bound folks whose Meals-On-Wheels are no longer coming. Let’s take the precautions that are advised by the experts, but let’s also take care of one another.
Finally, if you’ve taken steps such as these and found that those persistent worries remain and are making it difficult to function, remember that there is professional help. Clinical anxiety can be successfully treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Licensed psychotherapists, clinical social workers, and psychologists specialize in therapy to help bring anxiety symptoms under control. Psychiatrists, primary care physicians, and psychiatric nurse practitioners can provide effective medication management.
Let’s take care of ourselves and stay healthy out there!
Manejando el miedo en los días de COVID-19: Cómo mantener la ansiedad en su mejor momento
¿Cómo se sienten todos?
Las cosas dan un poco de miedo en este momento. La Organización Mundial de la Salud ha declarado que el nuevo coronavirus, también conocido como COVID-19, es una pandemia. La noticia está llena de historias sobre eventos cancelados, escuelas cerradas, tiendas agotadas de papel higiénico y posibles efectos perjudiciales para nuestra economía. Y la causa de toda esta interrupción es astuta, invisible y podría estar en cualquier parte.
Para aquellos que ya luchan con los síntomas de ansiedad clínica, la noticia de COVID-19 puede ser abrumadora. Incluso aquellos que normalmente no se sienten ansiosos pueden notar algunos síntomas de ansiedad en este entorno. Entonces, ¿qué podemos hacer para tratar de prevenir o controlar estos síntomas para que podamos sentirnos mejor y ser más efectivos en nuestras vidas?
La Ansiedad en su Mejor Momento
Comencemos por pensar en la función de la ansiedad: ansiedad en su mejor momento. John Bowlby, un psicólogo y psiquiatra cuya teoría sobre el apego entre los bebés y los padres ha cambiado la forma en que vemos el desarrollo de muchos trastornos mentales, una vez escribió que "las condiciones clínicas pueden entenderse mejor como una versión desordenada de una respuesta saludable". En otras palabras, los síntomas relacionados con la ansiedad, la depresión y otros problemas que afectan nuestro estado de ánimo y nuestro pensamiento pueden ser normales, saludables y útiles en las circunstancias adecuadas. En el mejor de los casos, la ansiedad funciona para advertirnos del peligro y estimularnos a tomar medidas que nos mantengan a salvo.
La ansiedad, realmente otra palabra para el miedo continuo, ocurre cuando una pequeña región del cerebro llamada hipotálamo detecta una amenaza. El hipotálamo se comunica con otras partes del cerebro y el sistema endocrino para liberar una cascada de respuestas fisiológicas y cognitivas, todas orientadas a ayudarnos a sobrevivir a la amenaza. Si doblamos una esquina y nos encontramos frente a un león, es posible que tengamos que huir o luchar contra él. Con ese fin, cuando nuestro cerebro detecta una amenaza, libera sustancias químicas que preparan nuestros músculos para la acción, aceleran nuestro ritmo cardíaco y la respiración, y alejan los recursos de nuestro cuerpo de nuestro sistema digestivo. Por lo tanto, podríamos experimentar una sensación de nerviosismo, un corazón acelerado, una sensación de que necesitamos tomar más aire y malestar estomacal.
Cuando nuestro cerebro detecta una amenaza, quiere que nos enfoquemos intensamente en sobrevivir y que nos la tomemos en serio. Por lo tanto, podríamos experimentar pensamientos acelerados, tener dificultades para controlar nuestra preocupación y tener problemas para pensar detenidamente. Cuando esto continúa por un tiempo, es posible que tengamos problemas para relajarnos lo suficiente como para dormir, o descubramos que nuestros cuerpos nos están despertando en la noche. Eventualmente, podríamos encontrarnos evitando lugares o actividades que realmente no podemos permitirnos evitar, porque nuestro cerebro nos dice que son peligrosos.
Podemos ver cómo todo esto es muy útil si estamos frente a un león. Pero cuando la amenaza es la vida cotidiana (preocupaciones financieras, estrés familiar o eventos mundiales que están fuera de nuestro control), estas respuestas no son tan útiles y pueden convertirse en problemas en sí mismas. Podemos ayudarnos recordando qué ansiedad es mejor: una advertencia y un estímulo para la acción útil.
Tomando Acción Decidida
Para aquellos de nosotros que nos damos cuenta de que recibimos una advertencia sobre COVID-19 de nuestros cuerpos y cerebros, tomemos un minuto y nos alegra que tengamos un sistema de alarma en funcionamiento. Bueno. Estamos funcionando como se supone que debemos hacerlo, más o menos. Ahora pensemos cómo convertir esa advertencia en acciones útiles y útiles que reduzcan nuestro riesgo.
Expertos como el Centro para el Control de Enfermedades (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html) recomiendan acciones que, en su mayor parte, son fáciles de tomar para todos:
Además, los expertos indican que las personas con mayor riesgo de sufrir síntomas graves de nuevos coronavirus son las que son médicamente frágiles y tienen afecciones de salud como enfermedades cardíacas, presión arterial alta o diabetes. Entonces, una acción útil que nuestra ansiedad puede impulsarnos es mejorar nuestra salud tanto como sea posible en este momento:
Ponga COVID-19 en Silencio
Podemos hacer estas cosas para aprovechar la función de nuestra ansiedad, pero también podemos tomar algunas medidas para evitar que se comporte mal. La ansiedad tiende a mantenernos pensando en lo que sea que tengamos miedo, repitiéndolo una y otra vez en nuestra mente, dejando que nuestros temores sobre lo que podría suceder crezcan y crezcan. Detengamos eso. La televisión y las redes sociales están ofreciendo información ininterrumpida sobre el coronavirus en este momento, y aunque parte de ella proviene de fuentes buenas, confiables y medidas, otra parte es engañosa, sensacionalista y parece diseñada para explotar nuestros temores por clics o tiempo aire. Seamos exigentes, obtengamos la información que necesitamos de fuentes que sabemos que son confiables, y luego tomemos un descanso. Si las redes sociales constantemente ponen artículos frente a ti que mantienen tu ansiedad alta, aléjate de las redes sociales.
Luego, tómate un tiempo para descubrir exactamente lo que sientes; Dale un nombre a tus emociones. ¿Te sientes nervioso, frustrado, asustado, enojado o confundido? ¿Más de una cosa a la vez? ¿Dónde notas esas cosas en tu cuerpo? ¿Malestar estomacal, dolor de cabeza, tensión en la espalda? Entonces, ¿cuál podría ser el significado de estas emociones? ¿Te sientes inquieto porque estás fuera de tu rutina? ¿Estás frustrado porque los niños tienen preguntas para las que no tienes las respuestas? Identificar estas emociones, cómo las siente físicamente y lo que significan puede hacer que sean más fáciles de tolerar.
Además, encuentre formas de practicar la atención plena. La atención plena se refiere a estar presente en el momento, en el aquí y ahora, notando lo que notas, y es una práctica respaldada por investigaciones que puede ser efectiva para controlar la ansiedad. Cuando sienta pánico, tómese un minuto para callarse y observe lo que escucha, lo que ve, lo que siente en su piel, cómo se siente el sol o el viento, cómo se siente la respiración entrando y saliendo de su cuerpo, y cómo se siente el suelo debajo de tus pies. Los ejercicios de atención plena son tan simples como esto, y puede encontrar fácilmente otros en línea.
Mejora tu apoyo social. Si bien deberíamos evitar la presencia física de otros que están enfermos o a quienes podríamos enfermar, aislarnos de nuestras preocupaciones no nos hará ningún bien. Póngase en contacto con otras personas de confianza que son una fuente de apoyo. Además, este es un buen momento para pensar en otras personas que nos rodean que podrían ser vulnerables a la pérdida de ciertas instituciones que están cerrando sus puertas temporalmente, como los niños que cuentan con almuerzos escolares o personas encerradas en el hogar cuyas comidas son Ya no viene. Tomemos las precauciones recomendadas por los expertos, pero también cuidemos los unos de los otros.
Finalmente, si has tomado medidas como estas y descubriste que esas preocupaciones persistentes persisten y dificultan su funcionamiento, recuerde que hay ayuda profesional. La ansiedad clínica se puede tratar con éxito con psicoterapia, medicamentos o una combinación de ambos. Psicoterapeutas con licencia, trabajadores sociales clínicos y psicólogos se especializan en terapia para ayudar a controlar los síntomas de ansiedad. Los psiquiatras, los médicos de atención primaria y las enfermeras practicantes psiquiátricas pueden proporcionar un manejo efectivo de los medicamentos.
¡Cuidemos nosotros mismos y mantengámonos saludables!
Contributed by Marriage and Family Therapy Intern, Angela Fisher
The weather is finally warming. We get to think about all the things we want to do: spring cleaning, preparing for a garden, and enjoying the outdoors. We start to create this to do list that might grow legs of its own! I wonder how many of us are intentional about nurturing the supportive relationships in our lives?
How do you nurture those relationships? Great question!
1. Be present. With technology so convenient and frequently at our fingertips, distractions have become a norm. Try setting aside a period of time every day that is free from technology or cell phone free. Eat dinner with others, play a game, or cook something else together and enjoy the conversation.
2. Listen to listen, rather than listening to respond. Many times, when we listen, the things going through our head are the things we want to say in regards to the information we are receiving. Try listening, and instead of responding, paraphrase back to them what you heard them say. This builds connections, lets people know you are really listening to them, and verifies that you accurately heard what they were saying.
3. Pay attention to the emotions behind the words. Think about what the other person is feeling when they are saying something. Rather than focus on the content of what they are saying, sometimes focusing on what they are feeling is more important in the moment. This helps to create an environment of being attune to others.
4. Turn off the fixer. There is a part of many people that wants to fix a problem someone has just told us about. Instead of thinking of solutions to their problems, empathize by responding with something like, “Wow, that must be really tough”. Phrases like this let the other person know that we are really listening to what they are going through. Sometimes people just need to vent. If you have an idea for them, it really helps to ask the other person if they are open to some ideas or if they just needed to vent.
5. Lastly turn off storyteller mode. We all have a story. There is space for everyone’s story, it’s just probably not at the same time. When someone shares a story, there can sometimes be a moment where some would say they have a better story, or try to one up each other. Part of life is sharing experiences not being in competition with each other’s experiences. Enjoy their story with them. They are inviting you into their life, accept the invitation.