Self-Help Series: Anxiety and coping well with Self Isolation & Lockdown
Is self-isolation and lockdown causing you anxiety, getting on top you? Then here is your definite guide to handling worry, as well as advice on how to deal with self-isolation and lockdown! Learn how to turn this pandemic and subsequent crisis into a time of personal growth and self-improvement, as Claudia Peifer chats to psychologist and relationship expert Sam Owen. Whether you’re working from home or possibly have lost your job due to the Coronavirus pandemic, or you’re self-isolating or your area is in lockdown, check the video for some excellent tips & tricks on how you can tweak your life, as well as that of your family, to cope with the situation – either now or when it possibly returns in the future! A different outlook changes everything, so watch the video to unleash the power within you 🙂
Every living person will experience anxiety at least once in their life time! There’s no need to be ashamed of it, but the fact that it’s one of the biggest health threats in modern times, shows that surviving in our fast living world comes at a price. ‘Many of the aspects of modern life are negatively impacting on the human nervous system’, as Education Manager Alison Cullen explains, who works at herbal remedies company A. Vogel.
Some know how to deal with it better than others, but the truth is, stress on a regular level can already start at school, so most of us have been experiencing anxiety or have been impacted by mental stress since a very young age. In today’s world, we have access to a lot more knowledge and insight in order to help ourselves, and psychologist and relationship expert Sam Owen has developed a unique technique to overcome anxiety, whenever or wherever it might occur. In her book ‘Anxiety Free’, Sam explains a technique she has developed, which, she swears by, works every time! She has identified eight threats, which can cause anxiety to happen, of which four are termed ’self-generated’ and the other four she calls ‘externally generated’. The big thing is, that once, you’ve been able to identify the root of the anxiety you’re feeling (like worry, rumination, negative thinking or feeling threatened), you can actually help yourself get out of this state by identifying a solution and then act upon it. Sam describes this method, as explained in her book: 1. Identify, 2. Solve and 3. Resolve. Sam calls this process the ’Three Pillars of Calm’. It’s is simple, yet powerful and is a very effective approach indeed, as you do not have to live with anxiety at all. Practice makes perfect, and whilst it may take a while for you to master this system with yourself, however once you’re on top of it, it is a very liberating feeling.
Sam comments further: ‘When the anxiety producing threat takes time to resolve, there are science-backed technique for soothing your anxiety symptoms in the meantime, so that you can live each moment much more comfortably and resolve the threat itself more quickly and easily.’ We all know that listening to calming music has a positive effect, but practicing yoga, Tai Chi, mindfulness and even doing art will calm your system and soothe your nerves too, amongst other things. But what happens, when you suddenly feel overwhelmed in a packed train or tube or at a crowded party with very loud music? That’s when practicing the Three Pillar System’ will save you, instead of suffering through it, and instead of self-sabotaging, you will be able to get through it by managing your mental state through self-discipline.
CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is another method of learning how to handle an acutely altered mental state and improve your mental health in general, which many claim to be true with great success. CBT focuses on challenging and altering ‘unhelpful’ cognitive behaviour patterns, improving and regulating your emotions by developing highly personal ways and strategies to cope with and target the resolving of current situations. Fear of flying can be overcome with CBT, avoiding panic attacks to occur in the first place and even exam stress can be helped through this very clever therapy, that allows you to ‘conquer’ your own mind. So, speak to your health professional, should you have experienced any of the aforementioned experiences and wish to solve them, as you certainly don’t have to live with them.
Experiencing anxiety causes a chemical reaction that has a knock-on effect in your body: adrenaline will be released, as well as the stress hormone cortisol, which will release sugar from your body’s stores, thereby creating extra energy. Amongst other reactions, you’ll feel your senses heightened and your heart might be beating faster (flight or fight syndrome). As your body’s demand on energy is suddenly increased, it will take and divert whatever it can get from other systems in your body and can therefore have a negative effect on your hormonal household, digestive system and even immune system, as well as physical energy levels. Even your bones and joints might suffer as a result. A further side effect might be, that you may suffering from mood swings and other behavioural changes, which will have an affect on your relationships and with others, and how you respond to them.
This then might tempt you to go a bit heavy on cakes and sweets, which, coupled with caffeine, will then overstimulate your system and will cause havoc with your blood sugar levels too – a catch22 situation, that throws your mood levels into spiking upwards and, unfortunately downwards too, never mind your blood pressure levels.
Hence a healthy diet is of great importance to keep your blood sugar levels as balanced as possible, and by that we don’t mean sugary icing on doughnuts, but ‘blood sugar’, which is created by eating ‘complex’ carbohydrates (wholemeal), healthy proteins (including nuts & seeds) as well as essential fatty acids (EFAs), and ideally as organic as possible. The ‘power of three’ is not to be underestimated in this instance…
Tips & Tricks: carry a bottle of either Bach’s Rescue Remedy, A. Vogel’s herbal essence or a bottle of Australian Bush Flower on you for when panic, fear or emotional distress suddenly hits you. It can help balance your nervous system quicker and help soothe you when you’re feeling threatened. Even when it’s just a trip to the dentist or ahead of you final exam week, it could present part of your safety-net just when you need it.
In the interview, Sam Owen cannot stress enough the importance of regular exercise, and she has good reason to do so! As she explains, research shows that light to moderate physical movement (walking, swimming, cycling, running can all be regulated to different strength levels), therefore raising the heart rate, practiced for 3 – 5 times a week, depending on research, can have the same effect as an anti-depressant over a 12 week period. Hence, give over to the power of endorphins, that are released by your body when exercising. ‘You can even get high by running, and hooked on them too (endorphins release), when training several times a week’, claims Claudia Peifer, who used to swim competitively and did cross-country running for cross-training, amongst other sports disciplines. She continues to say, that ‘power walking through hilly terrain really gets your heart beat going quickly (whilst being able to take it easy, when you feel you need to), and works wonders for your bum, tum(my) and abs. How this liberates you mentally, you will most probably only realise afterwards, feeling release and physically strong. The contact with nature, and if you can run in a forest, filling your lungs (and supply your brain) with pure oxygen, feels like a massive recharge and reboot to your system, so I am completely hooked on working out, even at 2am in the morning.’ Now, you don’t need to overdo it, but a moderate workout according to your strength level, that can be increased with time, will help you to be mentally stronger and increase your capability levels.
Self Isolation & Lockdown
Let’s be honest: not being able to leave the house is probably what we all (silently) might have wished for, having to go to work at 7.30h in the morning, on a cold, wet winter’s day. So how surprising is it then, to see our mindset change, when we’re told, we mustn’t or can’t go out!?! Right, let’s start right there: what happens when WE change OUR mindset and start using this lockdown or self-isolation to become productive to our own benefit? Ohhh, if it only where that easy…
Still, lockdown and self isolation might become a regular thing in the future, so here’s the lowdown and some great ideas on what you can do to help yourself in a situation of obligatory confinement:
LEARN something new remotely via online tutorials, on YouTube or via group chats:
* how about learning to code
* learn a new language (or several?)
* why not learn to play that instrument, you never had the time to devote to before
* learn to bake or to cook better with celebrity master classes
* learn to meditate by joining live YouTube classes
* listen to teaching podcasts on your chosen subject
* hairdresser crisis? The join tuition classes on YouTube and try out your partner as a guinea pig
* learn about how to give massages or therapeutic treatments, people will love you forever
* flower arranging is another great past-time to master – if you’ve got a garden, even better
CONNECT with friends, family or indeed, strangers via zoom or Skype to beat loneliness:
* hold house parties or pub quizzes (thank you Sunnii for the inspiration)
* carry out tasks or play games with your circle of friends or family, learning from each other
* try internet dating – just don’t forget to put REAL romance in, when the time comes and lockdown is lifted
* join an online-choir to give your lungs a workout
* hold virtual Happy Hours at Gin o’clock or dinner nights in
* conduct culture trips from your armchair and log-on to online channels (yep, you’re already in the right spot at TA-DAH.TV)
* use apps to share moments of mindfulness, meditation or prayer
* tune in to theatre streaming sites to enjoy the performing arts and their curtain calls
EMBRACE the feeling of vulnerability: enjoy therapeutic sessions yourself from classic therapy to canine therapy OR help others, who are in need:
* adopt an animal (from dolphins to puppies)
* adopt a virtual pet or visit virtual animal/dog shows
* adopt a grandparent and help those elderly, who might not have any family left
* volunteer to help others in difficulty
* become part of a charity and help out in their online services
* upload or extend what’s app groups to be able to ‘chat’ on multiple levels, to comfort those who feel alone – this therapeutic exercise is a win-win situation for both parties
* listen to fun podcasts to realise life goes on, laugh heartily over comedy, sport or lifestyle orientated topics
* don’t chuck your plans or goals because of you can’t go out, stick with creating lists and plans for your to get on with once lockdown is over
EXERCISE does not need to be reduced to gym space:
* join workout clubs on YouTube
* follow personal trainers online and on YouTube for courses
* create work-out clubs yourself on zoom, which is a great way to stay connected with gym mates
* get work-out apps you can practise to in your local park on the permitted daily outing
* give the kids a workout, changing to the role of trainer yourself and create a gym circuit with household goods or bedroom items
• exercise your mental strength by practising yoga, Tai Chi, mindfulness and breathing techniques – why not form your own circle on zoom?
Whatever it is, that will prevent you from mental rut, repetitiveness and frustration with the situation, or even depression, because you may not be able to see a way out YET, we can all use this time for productive improvement, either on a personal level…or a DIY-level (joke). Let’s make the best of a situation that has cost so many lives so far, so count yourself lucky and appreciate life with either one or many of the above suggestions, until the crisis is over.
#stayhomestaysafe #lockdownsessions #lockdownchallenge
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