There is no doubt our lives are disrupted these days. Ever-shifting life at home creates anxiety for many. If you’re feeling anxious, here are three exercises to help you manage and return to the present, courtesy of the MultiCare Behavioral Health Network.
Tip #1: ASSESS YOUR ANXIETY LEVEL
Becoming aware of your anxiety level, and simply recognizing it, is a good place to start. Assess your level using a 1 to 10 scale. It’s like the pain scale, but for your feelings. Ask whether the level of intensity you’re feeling is appropriate. No need to judge. Just question. This can help your brain open to consider other things.
TIP #2: FOCUS ON BREATH
When we are anxious, our breathing tends to change. We actually over-breathe. This pumps too much oxygen into our bodies. It’s a standard fight-or-flight response, but in the modern world, it’s not very helpful. Instead, focus on 4-7-8 breathing for five to 10 minutes. This helps calm your thoughts while balancing the carbon dioxide levels in your blood. Return to this pattern when you want to slow anxious thoughts.
TIP #3: CREATE A PATHWAY
There is an old saying: “Depression is living in the past, anxiety is living in the future, and peace of mind is living in the present moment.” If your thoughts are stuck, running, or spinning all around, check in with the present. Ask yourself, is it happening now? If you don’t get an answer, use a pathway thought to move on. Sometimes it helps to say your pathway thought out loud, and in repetition. Examples of pathway thoughts are:
• Peace of mind is living in the present.
• Be here now.
• Don’t engage with that thought.
The MultiCare Behavioral Health Network provides in-person behavioral health crisis care, access to pharmacies, and behavioral health counseling services over the telephone and via a secure telemedicine portal.