This is from a Johns Hopkins “Health Alert” I got a few months ago.” It singled out cancer pts. as a particularly vulnerable group. (By the way, the JH “Health Alerts” are really good and free, so you should sign up.) Don’t we know it.
Managing Anxiety Without Meds
Do you worry excessively? Johns Hopkins provides nine strategies to help you take control of your anxiety. We live in anxious times, full of bad news. We worry about our families, our country, our basic health and safety. But while a little bit of worry can be a good thing– it can steer us away from taking unreasonable risks, for instance– free-floating anxiety can be paralyzing, unproductive, and self-
Anxiety tip #1:
Notice and name. The first step is to identify your patterns. What specific triggers are linked to your anxiety? Notice what sets our anxiety in motion, and give it a name. Once you bring it into the forefront of your consciousness, you can begin to make sense of it and then to address it.
Anxiety tip #2:
Develop a plan. Many of us run ourselves ragged by not addressing our worries. Write your specific worry down, and then develop a plan to address it. Tackle one or two worries at a time. Once you’ve completed those, go on to the next on your mental list. This task-oriented process can give you a feeling of satisfaction; more importantly, it makes you feel less vulnerable, more in control of your life.
Anxiety tip #3:
Move. Exercise is one of the best self-treatments for anxiety available. [Etc.]
====> Ted does this, and it works for him. Told him yesterday he needs liability insurance, because someone might bump into his rock-solid body and be injured. Would be sad to see those muscles turn to jello.
Anxiety tip #4:
Breathe. A number of breathing techniques can alleviate anxiety. For one thing, many people find that when they’re anxious, they breathe shallowly, from the upper chest — and when breathing is shallow and fast, the body responds with an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones. In bad moments, they might even be holding their breath. Instead, take a few moments and simply *notice your breathing patterns*. After a few breathing cycles, take a deep breath. Let your belly be soft and relaxed, and breathe from your lower abdomen. Repeat– and use this technique any time you notice that you’re tense or
=== > This is the best relaxant I know of: an ancient breathing technique which I learned in college yoga class. It’s called
“watching the breath” (I think that’s what they mean by “noticing” your breath.) You close your eyes and simply “observe” the breathing process in your head, i.e., starting with the air entering the nostrils, going down the chest, etc. Simple but very effective.
Anxiety tip #5:
Nurture your spirit. Meditation and prayer trigger the relaxation response, helping calm the mind and body. Even the simplest of prayers or affirmations can help you let go of a worry and put everyday problems into perspective.
====> I don’t pray, but here goes: “Lord, help me with mine unbelief.”
I’m around new-agey people, so I think “affirmations” means repeating positive things to yourself. E.g., you can write on index cards, “I am strong,” or “I am going to succeed,” etc., and then look at the cards when you need a boost.
Anxiety tip #6:
Reframe your thoughts. Free form anxiety often is triggered or accompanied by a litany of negative internal “chatter.” The good news is, the brain is an adaptive organ, and it is possible to break out of the negative mode. However, it takes patience and persistence. The first step is to notice when the negative labels start bouncing around in your mind. Simply notice that your thinking is following a particular track, in a nonjudgmental manner. Next, learn how to talk to yourself in a constructive and rational manner. What would you say to a dear and beloved friend in this instance? Try saying the same thing to yourself. This process is a hallmark of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Anxiety tip #7:
Watch the toxins. Many people use alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine as short-term solutions for their anxiety. The difficulty is that self-medicating with these substances only creates more problems in the long run. Break the cycle. Similarly, be careful with comfort food–this is one of those times that too much of a good thing can make you miserable.
Anxiety tip #8:
Don’t watch the news. Use discretion with television, newspapers, and other sources of news. Of course, it is important to know what’s going on in the world, but our current culture–“all news, all the time,”highlighting the latest disaster in endless replays–can easily trigger or feed anxiety.
====> Great idea. Have been trying to implement this, but no luck so far. Even if you don’t realize it, hearing terrible things and
apocalyptic predictions repeatedly affects you negatively. Save your “worry budget” for more immediate things. I find it particulary aggravating to hear all the alarmist talk about global warming. Msg is: If you are a virtuous person, this should be first on your worry list (followed by Terrorism). Bunk. I did some researching and discovered agreat thinker, Freeman Dyson, who was involved in discovering quantum mechanics and also won the Templeton Prize for religion. Read what he has to say about climate change (and everything else!).
And don’t watch Bill O’Reilly, because you will start to think everyone around you is a sexual predator.
Anxiety tip #9:
Don’t worry alone. In the absence of realistic feedback, we often can spin some fairly creative doomsday scenarios. If something is troubling you, get the reassurance and reality checks you need. Consult someone you trust–a friend, family member, or a religious advisor, for instance. Anxiety often diminishes when we share our worries, and practical solutions to problems may emerge in the course of the conversation.
*Have saved for last my own best tip: “creative visualization.”
You conjure up a relaxing scene, your own idea of paradise, and focus on it. Mine is a vision of me lying in a wheatfield, in Kansas or Iowa, maybe. I am surrounded by golden sheaves and looking up at the blue sky. The colors are brilliant, like in a Van Gogh painting. There is nobody around. I feel totally at peace.
I have had this fantasy forever, so Ted and I are absolutely certain it comes from a previous life.
The closest thing I got to realizing this was an invitation I got recently from a PC friend in Missouri. He’s a farmer, among other things, and he suggested we come over and help him bale hay. I told him I wanted to go fishing once in my life. He said, “No problem, you can go with my wife.”
Maybe then we can hop over to Kansas.