I thought I could write a useful blog post today. It started out with the intention to give some tips on avoiding catastrophe thinking, and taming fear and panic. But nope. It's too soon. It's only the Thursday after the day the world ended, and 2 days just are not enough time to pull it together. I'm still in high anxiety myself.
Like many others, I've been taking these post-election days to wrestle with fear, anxiety, panic, cynicism, rage, and fantasies of moving to Utopia, which I'm told is a town somewhere in Uppsala County (Google it). Despite knowing it is not helpful, my default cognitive response has been what we in the mental health community call catastrophizing -- anticipating the worst, reflexively perceiving oneself as unable to cope, and leaning toward poor decisions made from faulty assumptions.
Anyone who has been paying attention to politics and the toxic social milieu we've all been drowning in for the last 15 months has plenty of observations to justify these emotions. And anyone paying attention now -- to announcements of the type of people the new administration is starting out surrounding itself with (just spend 5 minutes on Facebook or watching the news to find out who -- is feeling perpetually nauseous. Or experiencing angina.
We keep hoping it's just a nightmare. But we know it's a reality.
We know we can't live in this state of anxiety full time for the next 4 years. On the personal level, to have continual panic attacks will be enormously damaging to the immune system, to relationships, to productivity, to decisional judgments, and to general sanity.
But we also know that for a while we are going to feel profoundly sick -- Sick at heart for the cruelty and violence already ramping up against Muslims, Hispanics, African Americans, the disabled, women, the LGBTQ communities, and likely soon other non-Christians.
Sick at soul for the hope and faith we've lost in fairness, justice, and the essential goodness of America.
Sick at stomach, literally, as the rational, sensible, empathetic mind tries to cope with each new bully gut punch to tolerance, truth, and trust.
Four Tips for Immediate Crisis Coping
Later, I'll write about more lasting ways to deal with the nightmare we are in. For now, I have four strong suggestions for self-care.
1. Stock Up on Rescue Remedy
You're going to need this effective energy medicine tincture for a while. You can find it easily in most health food stores, at Whole Foods, and on Amazon. It will help take the edge off panic and other bodily-felt anxiety responses.
You can take it directly by dropping 4-6 drops on your tongue. Don't let the dropper touch your mouth, teeth, lips, fingers, or tongue, to ensure no germs get in the bottle. You can take it this way 3 times a day for 3-5 days if needed. Then take a 1-2 days break before starting the regimen again if needed.
In addition, if you are having a really rough day -- and I know the definition of that has just increased about a thousand fold -- put one drop per ounce of water in a glass or bottle, and sip on it throughout the day. You'll soon notice that you aren't as anxious. It won't be a big neon sign change, but enough to feel a bit more in your body and able to cope.
2. Use the In This Moment Breathing Meditation
This is as simple a meditation as you can get, and you can't really do it wrong. Here's the process:
Do this until you feel your body relax. Inhaling deeply and slowly helps circulate more oxygen in the bloodstream and to the brain, an important and useful factor in countering the physiological and psychological fight /flight /freeze stress response, which underlies anxiety and panic. Substitute other phrases for "I am safe" if you'd like, but use I am safe to start and end the meditation. The reason for that is that it is a powerful subliminal message to the subconscious mind that also helps relax the stress response. Some additional phrases might be:
I can cope
I am loved
I am not alone
All is well
My guides surround me
3. Give Yourself Laughter Treatments
Laughter really is the best medicine. It actually lowers stress and boosts the immune system. It might even lower cholesterol and definitely has a beneficial impact on blood pressure. Blood flows easier when you laugh circulating more oxygen to the brain for better rational thinking to counter fear and panic. Laughter even helps with digestion, and definitely has less calories than the cupcakes, ice cream and pizza I've been dosing myself with since Tuesday.
Laughter increases the "feel good" hormones such as serotonin, endorphins and neurotransmitters that elevate moods and help us feel optimistic and confidently able to cope with difficulties. It decreases not only emotional pain, but can lower physical pain perception as well. Laughter is said to be as effective a pain reliever as morphine and codeine. It even stimulates the flow of lymphatic fluid through the body, which carries away toxins stuck in the tissues.
So instead of checking into Facebook, Google for humor sites, or plan some marathons of silly old tv shows from back when sit-coms were really funny, now playing on Netflix and other streaming services.
4. Keep Your Mind on Business
If you are a clinician or other type of helping professional in private practice, it's good to recognize that your own reserves of resilience may be more prone to depletion right now when so much of your day is devoted to being there for others. One way to connect with a sense of control when the world around you is seeming crazy is to focus in on tasks that help promote your work in the world.
Especially when seasonal lulls in client load can add to a sense of alarm, keeping your mind on activities that set the foundation for growing your business can be helpful. Review, revise or develop a marketing plan. Write a bank of blogs. Refresh your website or get started on consulting with me about developing one. Practical tasks with problem-solving results have the benefit of feeling like you are "doing something" that will make a difference in your professional life.
Not sure how to refocus on marketing activities? I can help. And if you are in need of a website, as a very experienced web designer and content writer, see the several options I offer that can accommodate most clinicians' needs.