As I sit at my desk, having just finished the Sedona Community Center’s Pandemic Response Guideline, I have considered what to write about in this week’s column. Like me, you may be overly saturated with seeing the CDC’s personal hygiene recommendations for the umpteenth time. All the same, I am keeping an eye on the news to be realistically informed.
Several years ago, I shared with readers things we can do that could help to reduce anxiety. I thought this may be an ideal time to review why our body responds the way it does to stress and look at possible coping strategies.
The website anxietycenter.com states that, “Anxiety has become the number one mental health issue in North America. It’s estimated that one third of the North American adult population experiences anxiety un-wellness issues.” The same web page cites recent surveys that show “41 percent of employees from a range of industries reported high levels of anxiety in the workplace” and another report found that “more than half of college students sought help for their anxiety issues.”
As David Carbonell, PhD, asserts, “The Anxiety Trick is this: You experience discomfort, and get fooled into treating it like danger…When people experience the fear of a panic attack, or a phobic encounter, or an obsessive thought, they instinctively treat it as a danger. They try to protect themselves with some variation of Fight, Flight, or Freeze.”
It may not be much comfort for someone who is experiencing anxiety, but basically it is a natural survival instinct. It’s advisable for people experiencing chronic levels of anxiety to seek professional medical treatment as the symptoms may indicate anxiety disorder that counseling can resolve. For those of us who experience occasional worry, training ourselves to implement healthy practices when the anxiety hits can get us over the rough patches and into a calmer, more productive state of mind. A great start is by letting your physical being help your emotional self–
- Belly Breathing; According to Dr. Marla Deibler, clinical psychologist, deep diaphragmatic breathing transitions our body from the sympathetic nervous systems’ fight-or-flight response to the parasympathetic nervous system that precipitates a relaxed response. Because of this dramatic switch, deep diaphragmatic breathing has an immediate positive result in reducing anxiety.
- Calming Self-Talk; Whether you call it prayer, meditation, going-to-your-happy-place, visualization, or mantra—retreating inward and focusing on stillness, peaceful scenes or soothing words has helped reduce anxiety worldwide for generations. Suggestions include picturing your worry as a cloud or leaf floating away and out of sight on a gentle breeze.
- Maintain healthy eating and exercise habits; Studies show significant links between stress, anxiety and poor eating habits. Exercise has been proven to reduce cortisol—a stress producing hormone and conversely releases endorphins, which can induce contentment.
- Try natural herbs and supplements; Studies have shown a reduction in anxiety in people taking St. John’s Wart, 5-HTP, Chamomile, and Valerian Root. Additionally, Magnesium deficiencies can contribute to chronic worries and panic attacks. If you have a deficiency, adding Magnesium to your diet may lesson or resolve anxiety. As always, consult your medical practitioner before adding supplements to your regular regime.
The staff, volunteers, and board members of the Sedona Community Center want to thank our neighbors for the outpouring offers of assistance during this uncertain time. Folks who are wanting to help are encouraged to choose the Center as your 2019 Arizona Tax Credit recipient or if you have been thinking about providing a donation towards Meals on Wheels this is an excellent time to do so.
The Sedona Community Center has an absolute commitment in continuing the Vital Food Services like Meals on Wheels to the homebound elders and at-risk residents in our community now, and in the coming weeks. We greatly appreciate the understanding of our regular patrons who normally join us for dine-in lunch, fitness classes, and other activities that cannot be currently held. We look forward to this trial passing and seeing you again really soon! Visit www.sccsedona.org for more information about the Community Center.