Taming COVID-19 Anxiety With Creativity

Just make something. Todd Brison, author

In a recent Medium post, Todd Brison wrote this about creativity endeavors, “This is your space. You have complete dominion. Hope is found here. Peace is found here. Silence, too. Acts of creation cannot heal a broken past. They cannot repair a world of despair. They cannot guarantee future hope. However, they can provide shelter in a storm.” 

My research and personal experience tells me that what Brison writes is true. In fact, Step Four in MOM’S GONE, NOW WHAT? is “Stir Up Your Creativity.” Generally, people don’t become more creative in spite of tragedy, they turn to creativity because of tragedy. They use creative endeavors to calm the anxiety related to uncertainty brought on by loss…and, there is no doubt, we are experiencing a heightened sense of loss right now. Paint, knit, cook, garden, learn a language, color…stir up your special creativity to bring you calm as you shelter in the storm.

Affirmation: I find comfort in creativity.

Coaching question: How will you tap into your creativity? 

(I’m coloring – see photo)

 

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Benefits of a COVID-19 Diary

Regular writing can bolster the immune system, help you recover from traumatic events more successfully and ease stress and depression. Professor James Pennebaker, from the University of Texas in Austin

Soon after I sequestered myself to keep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, I started a COVID-19 Diary. Inspired by The Diary of Anne Frank, at first I thought of the diary as a historical document and a remembrance for my great-grandchildren. However, I soon discovered the immediate personal benefits of expressing my frustrations, fears, victories, and disappointments.

Research by Professor Pennebaker and others suggest that those who regularly write in a journal or diary have a more vigorous antibody response to bacteria and viruses and produce less cortisol, a stress hormone. I can’t prove any reduction in stress or increased antibodies but I do know that expressing my thoughts in a diary has a calming affect on me as I clear my mind of negativity. I also use my diary to track progress on my soon-to-be-published book. It helps me stay focused and reminds me that I am making progress even if it feels slow. 

Affirmation: I will continue to write in my diary.

Coaching questions request: What would it be like to start your own COVID-19 Diary? What are the possible benefits? Write about your feelings, activities, circumstances every couple of days for a week. Let me know how this exercise works for you. 

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Another Way to Combat Depression and Loneliness

Those who wish to sing always find a song. Swedish proverb

I recently began singing in a church choir again. The new music director needed singers and I joined to support the program. Now, a few months later, I find myself participating out of joy rather than obligation. In addition, I have made new friends, renewed my appreciation of music, and found satisfaction in enhancing community worship. 

I’m not alone. Studies show that choral singing improves our mood with a decrease in stress, depression, and anxiety. Perhaps it is the combination of deep breathing, a group setting, and the experience of joining with others to create something of beauty. Singing in a group can be especially helpful to your well- being if you’ve recently experienced a significant loss in your life.

Affirmation: I enjoy singing in the choir.

Coaching question: What makes your heart “sing?” 

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Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

Tips To Help You Stop Worrying

You can pray or you can worry but you can’t do both. Vicki

Although people often say there are 365 “fear nots” in the Bible, technically it’s not true. In the King James Version, fear is spoken of over 500 times. If we expand our search to verses that encourage us not to worry or not to be anxious, it would be many, many more. 

Fear, which frequently manifests into worry and stress, is not only contrary to faith but it can cause physical harm. Here are five tips to help you kick the worry habit:

  1. Set aside designated “worry time” — set a timer, consider what’s bothering you then move on when your time is up.
  2. Write down your worries then mark those over which you have control. Erase the rest.
  3. Spend less time online surfing the bad news.
  4. Have faith that _____________ (fill in the blank) will move forward even if you stop worrying about it/them.
  5. Stop procrastinating and take care of those things you’re worrying about that are within your scope of control.

Affirmation: I can kick the worry habit.

Coaching questions: What’s on your worry list? Which of the above tips speaks to you? Which one will you implement today?

 

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Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash

Feeling Anxious? Check the Facts

Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained. Arthur Somers Roche, American author

In my experience, most daughters who have experienced early mother loss are significantly impacted by the anniversary date of their mother’s death. Many have anxiety and are fearful that they might die early like their mother. Others, feel guilty that they are surpassing how long she lived.

One thing daughters may find helpful to ease their feelings of anxiety around the anniversary date is knowing that scientific research suggests that the parents’ longevity doesn’t correlate directly with the longevity of their children. James Vaupel of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, writes, Only three percent of how long you’ll live, compared with the average, is explained by your parents’ longevity. By contrast, up to ninety percent of how tall you are is explained by your parents’ height. Even genetically identical twins vary widely in life span: the typical gap is more than fifteen years. 

Affirmation: I accept the facts that help me face my fear and anxiety.   

Coaching questions: What causes you to feel anxious? How do you keep this trickle of fear from creating a channel in your mind? If you’re coming up to the age your mother was when she died, how will you deal with your anxiety and celebrate your future? 

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Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash

Balancing Purpose and Pleasure

To be truly happy, you need to feel both pleasure and purpose. You can be just as happy or sad as I am but with a different combination of pleasure and purpose. And you may require each to different degrees at different times. But you do need to feel both. I call this the pleasure-purpose principle–the PPP. Paul Dolan, author of Happiness by Design

Hedonism is the pursuit of happiness via sensory pleasure and comforts. Eudaemonism is the pursuit of happiness through efforts to live a virtuous life and become a better person. There’s evidence to show that living well means balancing these two aims.

If we choose one to the exclusion of the other, we can end up feeling like we’re missing out which can cause anxiety, depression and even chronic disease. One way to obtain balance is to notice when experiences provide a sense of both pleasure and purpose then create more of these moments in our lives.

Affirmation: I have both pleasure and purpose in my life.

Coaching questions: Can you name a time when you experienced both pleasure and purpose? What helps you keep both pleasure and purpose active in your life? What gives you pleasure? What gives you a sense of purpose?

Forest Bathing

Walking in a leafy area for 90 minutes can keep you from dwelling on negative thoughts. Stanford resarchers

Are you a ruminator, “worry wort”, or anxiety-laden person? If you are, you might want to try shinrin-yoku, the Japanese stress-reduction practice of forest bathing. That’s right…bathing…soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells of the woods or other tree-dense environment.

Yesterday I finally had the chance to walk to my favorite nature center. The most exhilarating part for me was the spring flowers along the way…iris, peonies, flowering trees. But the tall ancient oaks in my little northern town of Itasca were the real, “Ahhhh” of the walk. It was a short stroll taken late in the day but upon returning home where the jets fly low on their way to O’Hare Airport, I felt calmer and more peaceful. Perhaps not a “forest bath” but at least a refreshing “wash up”.

Affirmation: Nature soothes me.

Coaching questions:  Research says that the typical American only spends 5% of his or her time outside. Is this your experience? What would a walk in the woods…a forest bath…do for you? Are you willing to check it out?IMG_0916.jpg

STOP

If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days. Kris Carr, best selling author, wellness activist and cancer survivor

If I want to get riled up, irritated, and have the opportunity to respond without thinking, Facebook is my playground. If you know me at all, you know that these are all things I absolutely DO NOT want to do or feel so I embrace the STOP technique if at all possible.

Stop what you’re doing

Take a few deep breaths

Observe the sensations in your body and mind (I always feel the tension in my stomach)

Proceed with awareness and compassion (emphasis on the compassion)

Affirmation: I respond with thoughtfulness

Coaching questions: How do you handle your irritation, tension, anxiety? How’s it working for you? What’s one thing you will change to be a healthier you?