Another day, another stressful election. And they’ll keep on coming. Here’s an NYT roundup of therapist advice about just how exactly to cope.
[T]herapists report that many of their patients are even more upset as they struggle to make sense of the direction in which the country is heading. And many can’t tear themselves away from the news…
“Use your anxiety to motivate you,” [Dr. Stephen Hayes] said. “Think about what you value most and take action.” Taking action can help to instill the sense that you have some control over your environment — what psychologists call perceived self-efficacy — and leave you feeling less stressed.
The NYT illustrates some approaches to controlled breathing:
Controlled breathing…has been shown to reduce stress, increase alertness and boost your immune system. For centuries yogis have used breath control, or pranayama, to promote concentration and improve vitality. Buddha advocated breath-meditation as a way to reach enlightenment.
Science is just beginning to provide evidence that the benefits of this ancient practice are real. Studies have found, for example, that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder.
NYT relays four “well-being workouts” from Dr. Martin Seligman.
“Psychology is generally focused on how to relieve depression, anger and worry,” he said…“What makes life worth living,” he said, “is much more than the absence of the negative.”
To Dr. Seligman, the most effective long-term strategy for happiness is to actively cultivate well-being.
In his 2012 book, “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being,” he explored how well-being consists not merely of feeling happy (an emotion that can be fleeting) but of experiencing a sense of contentment in the knowledge that your life is flourishing and has meaning beyond your own pleasure.
Here’s an oldie but not-baddie: the New Year’s Resolution worksheet I once-upon-a-time put together for residents at the 28-day crisis program where I used to work. It’s been posted here before, but…it’s a new year again, so here it is.
Sometimes resolving to take on new, better behaviors just sets you up for disappointment. There’s some wisdom in abstaining from the whole process. But, if you’re going to give resolutions a shot, the worksheet can be helpful in getting them structured. It asks, what are your goals for the coming year, what are behaviors would you like to change, what are attitudes do you hope to adjust. Then, once narrowed to resolutions, you’re prompted to break each item down into steps. “So you want to ____________; what’s the first action you have to take to get there?”
It was helpful for the residential program folks. It could help you too.
Either way, Happy New Year!
With all the uncertainty following the November election, anxiety is spiking. Worry and fear can show up for different people in vastly different ways. Here’s an article that sums up some of the possibilities. If you’ve been anxious lately, something here is likely look familiar. Also, up top in the article, some simple suggestions:
- Make it a priority to connect face-to-face with supportive people
- Move your body frequently—don’t sit for more than an hour
- Get the full amount of restful sleep that you require
- Learn about and practice relaxation techniques
May seem over simple–but these little steps can help a lot.
From The Ringer—Digital Natives Struggle with Traditional Therapy. How to get help with anxiety or depression from a therapist who has never used a dating app?
Los Feliz is a deep blue neighborhood in a deep blue state. Right now, a lot of people are experiencing an unpleasant combination of lingering shock and continued anxiety. From How to Cope with Post-Election Stress (The Atlantic), come some suggestions. First, there’s basic self-care. Then:
At an individual level, people can check in on their families, friends, and coworkers, to see how they’re doing, and host gatherings or create opportunities for people to socialize and be together. They can donate or help organize or volunteer at charities, organizations, or religious groups that work in their cities and neighborhoods[…]
Ultimately, taking action is likely the biggest thing people can do to combat the anxiety and fear they may feel while waiting for Trump’s inauguration, and after. A trap that it’s easy to fall into is what psychologists call “counterfactual regret”—thinking of all the ways an outcome could have been prevented, how the world could be different if people had just done something different.
Can therapy help? Yes, it can. Call or write to get started.
Experiencing a spike in anxiety connected with the election? You’re not alone.
The American Psychological Association says that 52 percent of American adults are coping with high levels of stress brought on by the election, according to national Harris Poll survey data released last week. Therapists around the country said in interviews that patients are coming to appointments citing their fears, anger and anxiety about the election.
Both poll data and anecdotal reports show that the high levels of election anxiety are affecting both Republicans and Democrats equally.
Therapists nationwide on are on the case (including here in Los Feliz).
More help via mindfulness, this time for elementary school kids in Watts:
Mindfulness has been found beneficial for stress reduction, anxiety and depression, dietary challenges, addiction recovery, and many other conditions. Now it has found its way into a classroom where children as young as three are using its techniques to manage emotions and stay calm.
Using a strategy called Calm Classroom, Los Angles students, ranging from transitional kindergartners to fifth graders, are being guided by teachers three times during the school day through three-minute mindfulness exercises. The drills call on students to refocus their attention on deep breathing, relaxation, and body awareness.
Haven’t tried it? For some free, short, guided meditations, check out UCLA’S Mindful Awareness Research Center.
Another day, another study saying that healthy attachments are good for you (especially if you’re a preschooler).
Research has shown that our children’s chances of future success are driven by a variety of factors, including those that are somewhat beyond our immediate control, such as genes and financial status. The new study, however, found that a caring and emotionally attentive parent is likely to be a solid, long-term game-changer.