BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL
Never in the history of my time in medicine have I ever heard from so many people simultaneously acknowledging that mental health was at the front of their concerns. The latest poll showed that 49% of doctors are depressed and that was before the pandemic hit. This year has taken us on a roller coaster ride of every painful human emotion that exists… shock, grief, fear, anger, frustration, overwhelm, apathy, rage, and confusion…
Many of the coping mechanisms that we used to use to help us “manage” life have changed or become unavailable. For most of us there is no where we can “escape” to. No one we can “meet up” with. Talk to face to face, about some of the darkest days and nights that we are going through.
There is a re-structuring taking place on every single level of our lives. The restructuring is personal, occupational, social, relational, spiritual, political, financial, environmental, and global.
Every single one of us feels lost at times. Each one of us has a bad day or two. It’s good to recognize those days and then fall back on some proven stress management techniques to help yourself and the people you love. Recognize the emotion, identify it, call it out. Then do a stress technique from the list below, breathe, rest, stretch, re-frame so you can push through to a better day tomorrow.
Ninja Tricks to Kick Stress to the Curb
- Create a mantra for yourself that you repeat in your head or say out loud every time you have a fear based thought.
Example: After a bad car accident, I had a fear of driving especially on freeways. Each time I would think or feel the fear I would repeat this mantra, “I intend perfect safety, health and wellbeing.”
Another great one is, “Things are working out for my highest good.”
Or “God has given me everything I need to make it through today.”
- Essential Oil Blend – Apply to hands rub together, cup hands over nose and mouth and inhale deeply and exhale three times.
Example: When I feel anxious I have a soothing stress blend I rub into my hands and breathe in. The scent takes me away to a field of flowers, me as a girl running barefoot, my hair wild and free, the sun shining. Essential oils travel directly into the blood stream on inhalation and can trigger positive memories. Find some oils you like and go for it!
- Adult coloring Book – Get a coloring book, crayons, pencils or markers and let your imagination run.
Example: When I need to let my mind wander, I get comfy, pull out the coloring book, my big box of 164 crayons and let the coloring begin.
- Guided Meditations or Prayer – The insight timer app is my favorite meditation app and the pocket prayer book that works wonders is Keep calm and trust God.
Example: When I need to quiet my mind, I open up the app and search for a guided meditation for stress, or living in the present moment. Guided meditations are talking meditations and help to harness your thoughts so that you only focus on where the meditation is taking you.
- Favorite Photos – Flip through family photos from the last five years. Watch a few videos. Relive the enjoyment to remind yourself of the people/things that make life great.
Example: We have a video of my son on the potty from a few years ago that makes us all smile. We re-live that together because we are all so proud of the journey we have made as a family.
- Write down three things you are grateful for – Grab a dinner napkin and jot these down. Keep it in your pocket. Every time you touch it remind yourself what is good.
Tip: This works just like the mantra in number one. Use the napkin as a pocket reminder to repeat “what’s good” multiple times throughout the day, to keep your thoughts on a positive tract.
- Limit Media – Keep media exposure to 30min per day or less.
We need more Positive Peters and less Negative Nelly’s.
Tip: I am very sensitive to sound and am an audio learner. I recognize that TV and radio are triggers for my nervous system. I prefer to read the news that I choose instead of being bottle fed chatter. Decide what is the best delivery for you and don’t look back.
Tip 2: Looking for some positivity? Check out the audio book Broadcasting Happiness and the associated podcast called “The Good Life Project.” You will hear from people who turn circumstance into opportunity.
Many Blessings on your Journey,