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Some more thoughts during these challenging times....

I am speaking with many people who are feeling either outright anxiety, guilt, dread, grief, a sense of loss, and other feelings, or an underlying sense of these. Some are experiencing full-blown panic attacks. Some are experiencing none of these, but are feeling uncharacteristically irritable and short -tempered, are not able to sleep or concentrate, etc..

Some people are filled with a sense of apprehension as they wait: wait to get sick, wait for a loved one to get sick, or to get better; wait to find out if they will get unemployment or not, if their landlord will evict them or not.

Some people are filled with a sense of dread as they try to figure out how they will pay their bills - utilities, food, shelter, medications. Some people have experienced these fears and worries for years, and either the current situation is enough to send them over the edge, or they feel they have experience with this and can get through it.

I overheard someone say the rest of the world is now experiencing the levels of anxiety and stress she has lived with for years.

I write all of this to let you know: If you are feeling mild- extreme distress, you are not alone. It is okay for you to go through feelings of numbness, disbelief, anger, fear, etc..

Some of us have developed good coping mechanisms for these types of situations, and others of us have not (denial has a time and place where it may be useful, but there are other, likely more useful, coping mechanisms).

If you feel very much on the edge of being able to cope, please seek help however you can.

Some basic ideas to help:

STAY PRESENT: Stay in the present rather than tail-spinning into the worst case scenario. Certainly you should take action when you can - contact utility companies and lenders, etc. - to set plans for the future, but do remain present in the now.

One can bring/anchor oneself more firmly into the present by:

bringing your awareness to how your body is contacting the chair you are seated upon, to the sounds you hear around you, to what you see, smell, taste, and touch.

BREATHE: Soften the area over the back of your rib cage, then the sides and the front of your rib cage. Often we hold these areas too tightly and this restricts our breathing, which creates stress.

Our breathing diaphragm is located toward the bottom of our rub cage, and attaches all around to the base of the rib cage and sternum.

Bring your awareness to the central area of your body at the level of the breathing diaphragm. As you inhale, allow/gently encourage this area/the breathing diaphragm to direct/move slightly toward your feet. This creates more room in your lungs and pulls air in without your having to forcefully pull the air in. Please do not push your belly out - rather, let it respond to the motion of the diaphragm.

As you exhale, allow/gently encourage your breathing diaphragm to direct/move slightly upward.

There is no need to intentionally slow your breathing or force your belly out/in.

Practice the above described breathing often, although initially I suggest to people that they only do 3 such breaths at a time, then resume regular breathing.

SAFETY and COMFORT: Find things that support you in feeling safe, and that bring you comfort, whether they be an image that you hold in your mind, a song you sing, wrapping yourself up in a warm, fuzzy, blanket, looking at photos of loved ones or of happy times, speaking via phone or on-line with friends. There is benefit from enveloping oneself in soft, fuzzy, things, and benefit from feeling supported by a hard surface (bench, kitchen chair, leaning on a wall). Some people find certain scents very comforting. If you are eating a little more comfort food than usual :), as long as it is not endangering your health, don't fret over it.

Some people find being outside, if possible in your situation, to be comforting.

REPETITIVE GENTLE MOTIONS: Repetitive gentle motions can help soothe our nervous system, which is one reason people often rock when they are stressed, or why we rock a crying baby. Walking, if possible for you, can help soothe you.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: Stay hydrated, eat regularly and as healthfully as you can. Get as much sleep as you can, even if your normal sleep schedule is disturbed.


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