COUNSELING: How to stay calm in difficult times

By Licensed Counselor, Donna Goss, MA, LPC

No doubt we are living in times of crisis and uncertainty!  Anxiety and stress levels can become extremely high as we hear more every day about COVID-19 and the global impact it is having everywhere. 

Here are a few suggestions for managing high anxiety and stress:

  • Stay “in the moment”
    • Focus on the “here & now” and don’t get caught up in the “what-if” game
    • Pay attention to small moments in your day—enjoying a cup of coffee, taking a hot shower or bath, enjoying moments with your child(ren) or pet(s).  Enjoyment, peace, and serenity in life happen in small moments.
  • Focus the 5 Senses
    • What do you see, feel, hear, taste, and smell in a given moment?  Take a minute just where you are and identify as many senses in your surrounding as possible.
  • Breathing
    • Take time to mindfully breathe in and out—stay focused on the sensation of air coming into your nose and lungs, holding it and then letting it out.  Use a mantra such as “I am okay” or count each breath in from 1-10 and then out 1-10.
  • Listen to up-lifting music
    • K-Love plays inspirational music and shares listener stories that will lift you up during this time.
  • IMPROVE the moment

I=Imagery—Use guided imagery apps such as Headspace, Stop, Breathe and Think, and others as a resource for mindfulness and guided visualization exercises.

M=Meaning—Validate the cloud is there & find a silver lining.  Victor Frankl former concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist once said, “If you can find a why, you can tolerate almost any how.”

P=Prayer—Pray for strength and resolve in distressful times to the God of your understanding or Higher Power.  Find meaningful scriptures or other positive words of encouragement that can positively impact your thinking and mood.

R=Relaxation—Practice breathing exercises as described above or find other activities that will relax you such as taking a brisk walk, gardening, coloring, drawing or other crafts/hobbies.

O=One thing or day-at-a-time—Focus on what is in your control and in front of you at any given moment in time.

V=Vacation—Most of us cannot take a real vacation right now, but you can take a mental break from the problem(s) using ideas from above.

E=Encouragement—Validate your feelings and encourage yourself like you would a close friend.  Life is not impossible it just feels that way at times.

Remember:  “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away.”  Author Unknown

Anchorpoint’s family counseling services are here to help during this difficult time. If you or someone you know is struggling with loneliness, anxiety or depression, give us a call at 412-366-1300 or complete our Digital Intake form to take the first step today!

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