While dealing with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic instability through the spring and summer, this became a difficult question to ask and to answer. Checking in with ourselves daily to make sure we’re doing the things that sustain our health and well-being is more important than ever. For many, the stakes are high in this election, but your own wellbeing matters far beyond election day.
What’s happening in your body and mind today?
Sometimes, our feelings sneak up on us, and our body can experience emotions before our conscious mind is aware of them. While you’re checking in with yourself, ask these questions:
Are current events disrupting your sleep?
Are they interfering with my ability to concentrate?
Do you feel any symptoms of anxiety?
Are current events bringing back bad memories or triggering intrusive thoughts?
Do you find yourself ruminating or thinking of negative scenarios even when you would rather be thinking about other things?
Answering these questions for yourself will help you to understand what you’re feeling, especially if those feelings are happening subconsciously. This allows you to name emotions like anger, grief, or anxiety. Becoming aware of them is the first step in changing them.
What can you do to soothe yourself?
Instead of pushing down any negative feelings, find ways to process and resolve them so they don’t continue to build up.
Let’s take some time this week to relax a little. Just fifteen minutes a day can shift your focus, lower your blood pressure, and help restore your sense of calm and wellbeing. Try these simple things to begin creating the habit of being relaxed.
Breathing. Deep belly breathing activates the parasympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system and slows down your reactivity. Breathing slowly, deeply, can de-escalate a full-blown panic attack in a matter of minutes. Remembering to breathe throughout the day de-stresses you, and helps you install calm as your real baseline, not stress as the new normal. Get the easy to use Guide to Abdominal Breathing in the links below.
Hand on the heart. Neural cells around the heart activate during stress. Your warm hand on your heart calms those neurons down again, often in less than a minute. Hand on the heart works especially well when you focus on positive thoughts, feelings, images of safety and trust, ease, and goodness at the same time.
Clear your Mind. Sit back for just a moment and take a deep breath. Let your eyes close and imagine a time when you felt the most relaxed. Maybe it was a vacation, or just relaxing on a beautiful day. Imagine that moment as if you are there again, with all that you can see, all that you can hear, and how it feels being there. After a few moments you’ll feel like you’re ready to open your eyes, feeling much better.
The Role of Hypnosis
Hypnosis, to me, is a specific set of tools designed to help people use their own sills, abilities, and resources more effectively to take back control of the parts of their lives that felt like they were out of control before. Hypnosis breaks down the barriers that held you locked in unwanted behaviors and thought patterns, and empowers you to create new healthier behaviors in their place. A great way to begin is by using self-hypnosis. The steps below will guide you through a very basic introductory self hypnosis experience.
Remember that you don’t have to create pictures in your mind in order to be successful. Some people see things very clearly in their minds. Other people just get a vague idea of the thing they’re thinking of. As long as you can “sense” what you want to achieve, you can self-hypnotize.
Find a comfortable place you can safely sit with your eyes closed for about 5 minutes. Turn off your phone and minimize other distractions. Take a few deep breaths. Let your eyes close or let your vision go soft and blurry. Imagine a place where you felt truly relaxed. Imagine that you are in that moment from your past again right now. Just sit quietly and let your mind wander while you imagine being there. Make it as real as possible by imagining that you can see the things around you through your own eyes, hear the sounds of that place in your own ears, and focus on how it feels being there. Just be there in your mind for a while.
While you’re there, imagine that you can carry this feeling of peace and calm with you wherever you go. If this feeling had a color, what would it be? What shape would this feeling be? Imagine that you carry this feeling with you in a pocket, so that you can bring it to the surface any time, Like carrying a small token in your pocket that brings up the wonderful feelings of the things it reminds you of.
Practice this exercise at least once a day for a week. You’ll begin seeing positive changes in the way you think and feel almost immediately.
For some people, seeing a professional is the best option, but if you aren’t able to do so right away, begin to practice these techniques on your own and see the positive changes you can incorporate into your life.∎