Many of us are going to have to force ourselves to get back out and be social again in order to overcome the mental and emotional toll of the last year. This is being talked about in news articles now more than at any point in the last year. 

Last week was our Holy Week. Pascha, when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ in the Orthodox Church. We go through the week by attending increasingly solemn evening services at church, which provide a stark backdrop to the beauty and excitement of His rising from the dead. And when approached with the attitude of Christ Eternal, wherein He is not on a timeline, and we are present, in a way, at the actual events of the days leading up to his death, it creates a somber moment indeed.

What was interesting to me is that multiple times during these services, people I know and care about deeply, who are not Orthodox but are Christian and celebrated the western Easter weeks ago, reached out to me for prayers and help overcoming anxiety and anxiety attacks. I could not help but ponder the timing of these attacks of the spirit in line with the events taking place in the Universal Eternity in that moment.

None of us are completely exempt.

Today, I am sharing some of the tools that proved useful when I faced anxiety attacks when my husband was in Iraq. At the time, I was home alone for 18 months and we had three sons. I’ve also picked up a few other tricks since then. Our mindsets and energy levels can be changed in only five minutes when we use techniques that make us mindful of the present as it truly is and not how we perceive it to be. 

The first is to Pray. 
I used to say the Lord Prayer over and over, like a mantra when I was overwhelmed. If you can’t get that much out, Jesus’ name alone has power. Say it. He wept tears of blood in the Garden before his arrest, He will be able to provide comfort to you in whatever stress you are facing. 

Set your mind to block out anything else and focus on your breathing. Tell your mind that this is only one moment in time and that moment will pass - or go by one second at a time if you need to. I had such a moment when Jeff was deployed. I was driving and was suddenly overwhelmed by the feeling of impending harm to my husband. I couldn’t shake it, and called every friend I had that were my lifelines during deployment, and no one was answering. 

Keep stress- and cortisol-reducing essential oils or herbs on hand. Did you know that Idaho Grand Fir and other conifer trees naturally lower cortisol levels? Treat your nose to the smell of the great woody outdoors for a natural boost. Lavender  or Stress Away are also soothing for many people. Orange - the peeled fruit, or the essential oil - is a bright smell also.

Reach out to your team. Have those go-to, super-calm and reassuring friends on speed dial. Try to have more than just two or three to lean on. The idea is to get a quick bolster and then move back into the fray, but not burn anyone out on being your friend.

Examine your blessings. 
Start super small. Even down to things like I have ten fingers; I have two eyes; I am breathing; I am capable of thinking enough to even be anxious; I have friends I can call and so on.

Consider: what is the worst that can happen here? 
This one may not work for you if you cannot keep imagining until it is ridiculous. If you stop at a mid-level “bad thing” it could make that feeling of doom worse. So only do this if you are going to make yourself keep going.

Continue to go to a worse level until it is pretty ridiculous.

Maybe I go to church and interact with people and someone pepper sprays me. That is a bit crazy, huh? And very unlikely. Maybe they put a dead fish in my car and I don’t find it for a week. Like in Harry Potter, make it ridiculous!  I'd be embarrassed or maybe have to drive with my car windows down for a long time but I would still be alive to experience the smell!

Finally: put down the social media and news. If it is not feeding your soul right now, best to walk away. Read a real, paper based book, take a ten minute walk, do some jumping jacks with the kids, do a good deed for someone else. Get out of your head and get active. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you! 

As we face each day, I hope you wake up knowing you are meant to be here and that you can handle whatever comes your way!

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Melissa, I forgot that the evergreens were useful in lowering cortisol levels. Definitely useful information!

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