Word-Of-the-Week #849: Hope

November 12, 2020 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #849: Hope 

Hopethe feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out well.

Have you been able to feel some hope this year? Do you believe that even in this terrible pandemic good things have come out of it?

This week I am sharing excerpts from “Emotional Well-Being and Coping During COVID-19

“These are unprecedented times. We need to work extra hard to manage our emotions well. Expect to have a lot of mixed feelings. Naturally we feel anxiety, and maybe waves of panic, particularly when seeing new headlines. An article by stress scientist and Vice Chair of Adult Psychology Elissa Epel, PhD, outlines the psychology behind the COVID-19 panic response and how we can try to make the best of this situation. Her tips can be found below. 

Our anxiety is helping us cope, bond together from a physical distance, and slow the spread of the virus. So our anxiety – while uncomfortable – is a good thing right now, especially if we manage it well. At the same time, we must effortfully prevent panic contagion and create periods when we can be screen-free and calm, engaging our attention in normal daily activities. Seize opportunities to share lightness and humor. Laughter right now is a relief for all of us!

 It may be helpful for you to make a list of what you can and cannot control right now. In this guide, we suggest radical acceptance of the situations we cannot control and focus on what we can do. 

  • Stay physically safe from the virus 

In this case, the biggest safety behaviors (physical distancing and hand washing) which decrease transmission of the COVID-19 virus, are also an integral part of anxiety management. Stay home when you can. When outside the home, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. 

  • Limit media to reduce anxiety

By now you have heard this recommendation many times and there is research behind it: Watching or scrolling through the media makes us even more anxious. An excess of news and visual images about a traumatic event can create symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and poor health years later, according to research by UC Irvine’s Roxy Silver, PhD, and others. 

Try to limit COVID-19 media exposure to no more than twice a day (e.g., checking for updates in the morning and before dinner) and try to avoid reading about COVID-19 before bedtime. Take a vow to not forward (and thus propagate) alarming headlines to friends and family. 

The media often creates an exaggerated impression of global panic. The reality emerging from research data in Seattle, an epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., is that most people are dealing with this very well and rising up to help others. 

  • Get and provide warm, comforting, social support by video, phone, or text 

This is critical! Taking time to share your feelings and to listen and support others will go a long way. Talking with others who have our best interests at heart makes us feel safe. Use phone, video, text, or email. Fortunately, these new highways of social contact are unlimited resources. More than just providing social support about the current crisis, it is a good idea to use these connections to talk about the things you normally would – host your book club online, for example – which can create feelings of connectedness. Loving and caring for our pets can be phenomenal stress reduction for us too! 

  • Find ways of expressing kindness, patience, and compassion 

Be extra kind to yourself. This is a hard time for everyone. Humans across the world are sharing this experience with you. We are all in this together and we may all emerge with a renewed appreciation for our interconnectedness. Helping others in need is both critical to get through this well, and also creates more purpose to our days and well-being. 

  • Create new routines and keep practicing health behaviors 

Routine and ritual are restorative to us. Our brain wants predictable activity so we can relax our vigilant nervous system. Go to bed early and go outside each day to be active. (More information about sleep and activity is available below.) Remember that our activities, thoughts, and mood are closely linked. If you want to change your mood, change your activities and/or your thoughts. 

  • Eat well 

Good nutrition helps our mood. Stress makes us seek comfort foods, and in turn high carbs and sugars impact our mood. Many population-based studies show that a Mediterranean diet has been linked to better mental health and stress resilience, whereas a junk food western diet is linked to depression and anxiety. Try to fill your home with fresh produce, frozen vegetables, and whole foods when possible.”

This week’s focus is on feeling hope. Are you giving and receiving warm, comforting social support? Are you being extra kind to yourself and practicing healthy habits? Anyone find it interesting that I picked this word this week? I don’t know about you but I’m already feeling so much more hope!

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Word-Of-the-Week #733: Anxiety

August 23, 2018 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #733: Anxiety 

Anxiety – a state of uneasiness and apprehension. 

How would you rate your stress level on a scale of 1 to 10? How often do you feel a sense of apprehension or uneasiness? How much time do you spend dwelling on future uncertainties?

This week features Melanie Curtin, Inc.on Ways to reduce anxiety, improve well-being.”

“Stress and anxiety isn’t just uncomfortable–it can be debilitating. Around 40 million adults in the U.S. alone suffer from anxiety disorders, which are the most common mental illnesses in the country.

Fortunately, anxiety is very treatable. Here are some proven ways to calm down and lighten up:

  1. Meditate

Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says mindfulness meditation is perfect for reducing anxiety both short- and long-term:

“People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power … You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that–a thought, and not a part of my core self.'”

Research shows you only need 10-15 minutes of meditation per day to get the health benefits, which includes reducing stress hormone levels, increasing serotonin, and strengthening your ability to let go of thoughts that don’t serve you. Download a meditation app like Calm or Headspace to get started.

  1. Go forest bathing

From 2004 to 2012, Japanese officials spent $4 million studying the physiological impact of “forest bathing”, which just means spending time around trees. They found that it reduces anxiety, boosts your immune system, and amplifies feelings of well-being.

You don’t need to go to a heavily forested area, either. People in cities get the same benefits in a park. Like meditation, you don’t need a lot of exposure to get the health effects–you just need regular contact.

Scientists say part of the reason for the reduction of anxiety has to with the essential oils trees emit, aka phytoncide. Breathing in tree air doesn’t just feel fresher–it actually is; it boosts your intake of phytoncide, which improves your overall health.

  1. Chew gum

Multitasking is generally bad for anxiety, but if you’re going to do it, get yourself some Juicy Fruit.

A study out of Swinburne University found that people who chew gum while multitasking under stress had lower cortisol levels, reduced levels of stress and anxiety, and increased levels of alertness and performance.

Another found that chewing gum can improve a negative mood, and increase levels of peace and calm. Scientists don’t know precisely why, but believe it’s because chewing gum tends to improve blood flow in the brain.

This week’s focus is about reducing anxiety. How would it feel to turn a negative thought into a positive one? When was the last time you went forest bathing? How often do you chew gum?

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Word Of the Week #45: Anxiety

April 22, 2009 by · Comments Off on Word Of the Week #45: Anxiety 

Anxiety: a state of being anxious, uneasy or apprehensive.

Is there a part of your personal or work life that creates a feeling of anxiety?

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Steve Straus, the 3 Minute Coach, sent this wonderful quote in his weekly e-mail letter.”I often remember realizing that much of my anxiety was stemming not from where I was, but from what I was afraid would happen a few miles in the future.” Lane Wallace – writer/pilot for Flying Magazine

Coaching Point: A wise pilot plans for possible future outcomes. But are you planning or being anxious?

I think we become anxious when we try to figure out Step 10 before we even get to Step 2! The unknown can be either scary or exciting! It just depends on how you perceive it.

Certain behavioral styles love not knowing, while others may feel out of control. This week see if you can identify any areas in your life that create anxiety for you. And as Steve says, “Are you planning or being anxious?”

Reader Responses

“I think we see anxiety all around us every day. Most of what makes people anxious are things out of their control. Obviously, we can’t do anything about things over which we have no control. So, there is no sense in even thinking about it.  Another aspect related to anxiety is having someone or something to point to if something goes wrong. When things go haywire, as they will do, those who have not planned well enough ahead for contingencies tend to look for someone to blame for their lack of planning and/or accountability.  We do live in an age where people are not being held accountable for their actions, or they just abrogate their responsibility (pass the buck) when things go wrong. You know it happens every day. Heck, we live in a time where even the President of the U.S. is not held accountable for his actions, especially in regard to a war. One of the most common excuses used by people after they are reminded about what they could have done to prevent a situation, and thus prevent anxious moments for many people, is that they didn’t know! It is no excuse.  Anxiety can be prevented by thinking ahead. But even more important is how people either react or overreact to situations. How we react to every situation can go a long way to eliminating anxiety. There are many anxiety-causing instances that are so small as to not even warrant a reaction. But people do overreact when they feel they may miss a train or wind up late for a party. There are many more important things in our lives than worrying about being late or forgetting something.  After our daughter was born, a family friend gave us some advice: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” And he was so right. If we don’t sweat the small stuff and plan our contingencies, we won’t have to worry about anxiety. Life is too short to worry. Have dessert!  And what can we do about the weather. I read a quote somewhere that noted, “The weather does not pay attention to criticism.” When passengers get upset because the weather is delaying their flights, it is almost as if they are the only people being inconvenienced and their reason for flying is more important than all of the other passengers. What I always do is bring plenty of reading material with me, including magazines, newspapers and books.  It is surprising how quickly reading passes the time in an airport, or when we are stranded on a runway. Two years ago, I was on a Friday afternoon flight that was supposed to leave O’Hare for New Orleans at 3 p.m. Because of rain storms around the country, I was stranded on the runway for at least three hours. During that time on the plane, I began writing the first chapter of my second book, “Goin’ Uptown: Marquette’s March to Madness and Return to the Final Four.” I was heading to New Orleans to watch my Marquette basketball team play in the Final Four, and I only had two and a half months to complete the book. So, I took advantage of the time I had on the runway to get a good start.  In these type of situations at airports, I just sit and catch up on my reading while those who are frustrated because they can’t control the weather go berserk. I figure, when we get there, we get there. Oh, well. As my father says, “It takes all kinds to make a world, and there isn’t one missing!” — Joe Moran.