The theme for Week 6 of our series ‘Creating Hope and Staying Positive while facing Covid-19’ is ‘Dealing with Anxiety’.
Check in every day as we explain through our podcast, audio, recipe, and a reading, with with further practical advice, why it is important to take time to look after yourself and to take on new challenges.
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Week 6: Dealing with Anxiety
Over the coming weeks there may be times when we get frustrated with the challenges we are facing. Remember that is normal – our routine is upset, and a lot of the things that give us pleasure are no longer available to us.
However, if there are times when anxiety hits us then we have to remember there are ways we can deal with this to allow us cut through an emotional upset and think clearly in any situation.
There are a number of options available to help. For example, make a call to somebody you trust and talk to them about how you are feeling, or get out your favourite book, film, piece of music etc to give yourself a little bit of reassurance.
For GROWers who are missing their Support Group Meetings, call one of your group members who can offer you some support, or consider signing up to our online groups. You can also contact your Area Co-ordinator to find out about supports in place to help during this time.
Wellness and GROW
Be Definite – what exactly am I worried about?
Be Rational – is it certain probable or only possible?
Be Wise – how important is it?
Be Practical – what can I do about it right now?
· Write down your fears: Get them out of your head. Discuss with a friend
· Box breathing: sit comfortably in a quiet place. Feet on the ground shoulders back and down, two feet on the ground if on a chair or crossed legged on lie on a mat.
· Breathe – count four seconds in
· Hold for four seconds
· Breathe out for four seconds
· Hold for four seconds repeat for three to 20 minutes
Understanding Panic Attacks and Anxiety
Coping with Panic: The best way to cope during a panic attack is to deal with it as though it were any other kind of physical pain such as a headache or back pain. Consider it to be a real nuisance but recognise that it is not dangerous to life. Wait quietly until the worst of the faintness and palpitations are over, then go about your business. Knowing and telling ourselves that we are not in real danger, that we won’t die, explode or disintegrate, helps to dissipate our panic.
Say to yourself: Feelings are not facts, my feelings can be stirred as much by imagined as by real causes. Paraphrase the Four Stabilising Questions:
What (single and immediate) thing do I fear?
Is it really true?
Is it important?
What must I do about it, right now?
It is important to limit our search for danger to the immediate present. If we look at all the possible risks we might run for the rest of our lives, we will always come up with something scary. If we conscientiously use the two tools mentioned above every time we have a panic or anxiety attack, our attacks will last less time and we won’t feel helpless.
We need not be afraid of what others think, if we have a panic attack in a public place; the truth is probably no one is paying any attention. If somebody does ask what is the matter, we can say that is it just a ‘spell’ we sometimes get. We needn’t make a big thing of it.
Acute panic is usually brief but it is followed by a longer stage of heart palpitations, weakness and great anxiety. During this anxiety phase we are better off distracting ourselves from our irrational fears than concentrating on them. People can beat anxiety by pulling weeds, jogging or cleaning house. We need to find out what works best for us and to get our muscles into action through vigorous activity.
Look for the deeper causes of anxiety: We need to look at some of the deeper causes of panic attacks. If we look at what was going on in our lives when we started having panic attacks, we usually find that we have suffered some big disruption that makes us feel vulnerable. The disruption may be a lost job, or job burnout, failing in school, a death in the family, divorce, a threat to our health or even the inevitable start of deterioration that comes with middle age. Whatever it is, it brings us face to face emotionally with our own mortality and helplessness. We suddenly realise we must die sometime, and we are vulnerable to dying ANYTIME. We cannot save the world or even save our loved ones from disaster. Suddenly danger seems everywhere.
People can and do transcend these fears, but not by running away from them. We need to develop a philosophy of life that helps us accept whatever pain and tragedy we cannot avoid. We need to talk to people who have faced and come to terms with their own fear of dying and who accept their vulnerability. We need to talk about our fears in our group and recognise that we really are not alone. The task of finding acceptance for our fear of helplessness and death is a part of our spiritual development.
We work at accepting and transcending these fears all our lives. Once we no longer find death so terrifying (though we try to avoid it as long as possible) we are free to live more fully and more joyously. In the meanwhile we should use all the practical means we have to minimise our anxiety.
At this time we may want to set new goals for ourselves: practical goals that mean more to us than our anxiety. These goals might be to finish school, to earn our living, to be more caring etc. Unless we have something that means more to us than our feelings, our phobias and panics will remain the centre of our lives.
Panic attacks can be licked. Many of our GROW leaders suffered from panic attacks and crippling anxiety. They too, did not believe they could be active, constructive leaders or even lead good, ordinary lives. When we see these people today, they amaze us both with their confidence and their sensitivity. It is not that these leaders never suffer moments of high anxiety any more: they do. It is that they have learned to go by what they know rather than how they feel. They have found something more important to them than their feelings: being there for others. They have learned that they can do the ordinary, good thing even when their feelings are against it. We can too.
– Anne Waters
GROW Audio: Tips on dealing with anxiety
Caroline Crotty, GROW Mental Health Recovery Area Co-ordinator, provides tips on dealing with anxiety which are particularly useful during the Covid-19 restrictions.
Summary on Panic Attacks
1. Tell yourself you are not in danger. Panic attacks are just inconvenient. Don’t dramatise them. Sit down, breathe deeply, count to 10. Have some water. Then resume quickly and without fuss.
2. Know you can command your muscles in spite of your feelings. If you get up and walk, chances are you won’t faint. As you resume your activities, the shaky feelings will fade.
3. Panic attacks are not premonitions. Your racing heart does not mean you unconsciously KNOW of some impending disaster.
4. Don’t berate yourself. Panic attacks do not mean you are weak willed. They come because you are very tense and have some serious stress in your life. Be kind to yourself. Don’t dwell on minor mistakes or embarrassments. We all mistakes – no one is perfect. Other people are glad that you aren’t perfect.
5. Keep doing the ordinary good thing. Credit yourself with progress whether you did your task perfectly or not. If you did it fearfully, give yourself an extra pat on the back because that takes courage.
6. If you are afraid because of heart palpitations or other signs of bad health, see your doctor. If she tells you that you are healthy, stop worrying about it. Follow her advice re lifestyle changes like reducing stimulants (caffeine, alcohol etc), cutting out illegal drugs, getting regular exercise and practicing mindful breathing.
7. Overuse of electronic gadgets (mobiles, computers, TV etc) can overload us with stress. We don’t need to be 100% connected 100% of the time. The world will continue quite well without your worry.
8. Isolation means our fears grow wings. Regular attendance at our GROW group and 12 Step events plus involvement in the wider community is vital. Friendly support gives us the courage to tackle fears. But do what scares you on your own as soon as you can.
9. Stay active. Walk, hike, jog, garden, do aerobics. Do these on as daily basis. When outside, get out of your head. Notice the sounds of children playing, the sight of trees changing colour, the smell of flowers (noticing outer beauty calms us inwardly).
10. Find the funny/joyous side of life. Learn to laugh, sing and dance with friends. Let a happy, curious child or elderly person teach you the pleasure in doing simple, joyous activities – that enable us to relax and let go of stress.
11. Develop values and meaning in your life that are greater than your fears. Be regular at GROW. Sharing your experiences of panic, consistently doing realistic tasks and deepen your knowledge/understanding are the basic stepping stones to recovery. As you learn, make sure to help someone else – shared learning.
-Edited by GROW KK
Citrus Glazed Salmon – kindly provided by RéNua Natural Health
Brief: Food – Something that brings down the adrenal response and inflammation that may be building up.
Suggestion: Anti-inﬂammatory dish, high in vitamin B5, Omega 3 and protein. Quick recipe with fewer ingredients to ease anxiety. Familiar ingredients that are easily sought.
Serve with: Boiled potato and broccoli
· Familiar ingredients, easy recipe helps instil conﬁdence to nourish oneself even in a crisis
· Salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 (anti-inﬂammatory) and protein . Shiitake mushrooms (or button mushrooms) and broccoli are high in B5 necessary to replenish adrenal function during stress response.
· Flavour is sour, sweet and salty, appealing in times of stress. Stress can be a trigger for processed foods which fulﬁll this taste requirement but offers no nutrition and can exacerbate the stress response.
· Mineral-rich dish which is grounding in ﬂavour and physiological effect
· Nutritional Proﬁle
o Excellent source of omega 3, vitamin B5, vitamin B12 and protein
o Good source of vitamin A, Zinc and Magnesium
Contact our info line on 1890 474 474 for a friendly and trusted voice if you need to discuss any issues.