These days it’s hardly uncommon to be stress-free.
In the best of times, our many responsibilities both at home and at work can leave us feeling stressed; add in the limited scope of activity and fear a pandemic brings, and most of us can feel like we’re drowning.
For me, the anxiety seems to creep in when I sit still just long enough. It’s usually in the afternoons, when I’ve done school pickup, am getting things in order for the kids’ activities and dinner, and I’m starting to feel exhausted. Something about that physical exhaustion brings on the endless list of questions:
Will we be okay? What if one of us gets sick? Why aren’t I doing better at work? Why can’t I seem to keep up with everything I need to do in the house?
And then I realized, I’m certain I’m not the only one who questions:
Everyone will of course be different, but there are of course some red flags to watch for when it comes to deciding how best to deal with your stress.
I reached out to friend and cognitive psychotherapist Niro Feliciano, who’s been on my podcast several times (see below for the episodes!), and who dedicates her own podcast and work to educating people on mental health. And her answers can help us decide what’s really going on in our minds.
“A clinical anxiety disorder is a period of 6 months or more, characterized by excessive daily worry usually about two or more aspects of life—relationships, work, finances, parenting. This is often accompanied by physical symptoms of anxiety increased heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea.
There are six types of anxiety disorders, some more specific [than others]: for example phobias, separation, social anxiety, agoraphobia, and panic, too.
However, someone can have significant anxiety and not a full blown disorder and it still warrants treatment. There can be a particular situation or place that triggers these feelings and irrational thoughts.
If anxiety both for kids and adults gets in the way of living your normal daily life, especially if it prevents that person from doing the things they need and want to do- it’s time to get help. If it’s a situation that causes worry, but one that is not impairing the normal routine of life, then it is not as imperative to treat it at that stage.”
“[For] a-t home treatments, focus on self-care.
What does this person enjoy that relaxes or distracts them from the issue? Mindfulness meditation and relaxation breathing with an app like Calm, Headspace or Insight Timer can be very effective at not only reducing acute anxiety, but training the body at the neuro-chemical level to become less reactive when this type of breathing becomes a practice.
CBD products have helped people reduce symptoms of anxiety and sleep better. Use at the supervision of a CBD specialist and consult with a physician as well. Epsom salt baths can also help as the body absorbs magnesium very quickly this way and can have noticeable effect.
For acute severe anxiety, sticking your face in a sink full of ice water actually helps. It shocks the system into parasympathetic mode, bringing down the neurophysiological symptoms of anxiety quickly.
As for modalities, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) has proven very effective in the research in treating anxiety, by identifying the irrational thoughts and unfounded core beliefs and limiting beliefs that are at the core of anxious thinking. It provides a framework to essentially rewire an anxious mind by thought replacement based on evidence. DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) is also helpful for those suffering from dual diagnosis.”
Thank you, Niro, for weighing in with your advice and expertise! Of course, it’s always best to talk with your own doctor or therapist when it comes to deciding the best course of therapy or treatment for you.
Want more of Niro’s wisdom? You can check out her podcast here; it’s so good!