By Mary J. Sant’Eufemia, LCSW
Most of us are worried sick about the Covid-19 pandemic that has taken over the world at large. This constant information that we are bombarded with on a daily level is for sure increasing our anxiety levels.
How do you restore your equilibrium in a time like this?
You need to stay tuned into the news for the latest information, but the constant deluge and updating of the info becomes overwhelming. So it’s important to limit your exposure, possibly just once a day, to the most reliable news sources out there.
I think the most important thing I can share with you to reduce your anxiety level has to do with managing your breath. As you may know, anxiety is a natural response to the fight or flight response which occurs when we are threatened, under tremendous pressure or having to face a new challenging situation. Under any of those circumstances, we may begin to have physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, increased blood pressure and pulse rate, accelerated heartbeat, etc. which then begins to have an effect on one’s thinking.
Your thoughts may also accelerate in the direction of worry, anxiety, and panic.
So, it’s crucial to bring those symptoms under control quickly. Once you gain control of your body, your mind will follow. Your breath is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system which influences our ability to relax and calm down. If you breathe from your belly instead of your chest, you will stimulate the vagus nerve within the parasympathetic nervous system which is your direct link to calming you down from the anxiety symptoms you may be experiencing quickly.
A retired client of mine called me in a very anxious state not only from the Covid-19 situation, in which she was already stressed out about but from its effect on her limited investments in the stock market. She had already lost money in the 10’s of thousands. She did not know what to do. Should she sell everything and put it into cash, should she wait it out, but who knows how long this will last? How much money will she lose? Will she ever be able to get it back to where it was? She cannot afford to lose any money because she will never be able to replace it. She reported getting chest pains and heart palpitations. She was going around in circles with these questions and increasing her stress level.
She is not alone. I’m sure most of us are wondering the same thing!
So I asked her to lie down or sit comfortably in a chair and to close her eyes. I asked her to begin inhaling slowly from her nose for a count of 4 and then
Afterward, I asked her how she felt. She said she was feeling much calmer. I then asked her, of all the things she was concerned about regarding her investments, did she have any answers to any of the questions she raised above? She said no. She did not know how long the decline in the market would last, or how much money she would continue to lose or if there would be an upturn. The only thing she could change was to either move it to cash or ride it out.
I then asked her to think about what was greater in terms of the constant worry about losing the money, keeping her principle funds safe, or risking that she would get back into the market when prices were higher and therefore not make as much? She thought about it for a moment and then said keeping her principle safe.
She was able to take control of the one thing she had control over, the decision to stay in or get out. But, without having achieved a rational state of mind to assess the stress involved in either choice and be able to discern that which she would never have an answer for (not having a crystal ball to see the future), she would never have been able to see clear to her decision. This is an example of how the breathing technique can get your mind and body to relax quickly as well as an example of then being able to distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries and take appropriate action.
Learn more in the interview on Inside Inspired Woman Show that aired May 11th at 12:30 pm est (link to video of this show on Facebook) as well as the accompanying PDF file – click here- Yes, You Can Manage Anxiety – I will be sharing with you many more techniques regarding breathing, meditation, relaxation responses, cognitive techniques and hypnotherapy. So I hope you can watch the interview and share any of your questions and concerns. Looking forward to our shared experience!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary J. Sant’Eufemia, LCSW, CH is a NYS Clinical Social Work Psychotherapist/Hypnotherapist and Life Coach.
She was the owner of the Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy in NYC for over 25 years. A workshop leader, trainer, and instructor at several colleges in the greater NYC area. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org