Managing Your Anxiety During Corona Virus

white toilet paper

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I’ve been making light about the panic around toilet paper and other supplies on my other social channels, but I must  admit, as a person who’s anxious, it was hard to keep things in perspective when out getting groceries today.

I am not a health professional, so please check all the tips I am about to give against your  own common sense, life circumstances and the advice of your doctors, the CDC and your local governments.

  1.  Renew your prescriptions IF THEY ARE LOW.  I have one medication that I take that has some serious withdrawal symptoms if I suddenly stop taking it.  If that’s the case with your medication and you have a week’s worth or less, you may want to consider calling in your refill and picking it up.
  2.   Social distancing does NOT mean isolation.  Facetime and Google Hangouts work.  Reaching out doesn’t mean you have to be in the same room with someone. Reach out, especially to those who are vulnerable.
  3. If you are out, be kind, polite and give people plenty of space.  Our healthcare workers, grocery workers, retail workers and many others are seriously overburdened at this time.  No yelling, shouting or snarky comments are going to make things any better.  Stress ups our susceptibility to disease.  Don’t stress yourself or others out.  Smiling improves your health.
  4. Get support if you are going through a hard time already.  If you are struggling with addiction, there are support groups online too.  If your usual meeting is canceled,  Virtual meetings of AA, Al-Anon and CODA groups are happening all the time, all over the world, and you don’t have to leave your home.  I also recommend Therapeer, an app.  Join me on Therapeer to receive peer emotional support, and to support others in need. Follow this link to get your own private support room for free:  https://www.therapeer.app/invite/xupg3
  5.   Try to keep up your healthy habits, even if your routines are disrupted.  There’s a treasure trove of exercise and yoga classes on YouTube.  It may help to keep up your morning routine even if you’re not commuting to work.
  6. Many of us are news junkies.  It is very important to keep up-to-date on what’s happening, but if you find the news is making you anxious, limit your time reading the news.  Check in the morning, noon and night only, and for short, designated times.  Consider a digital detox.
  7. If you’re bored, try something new.  Take an online class or take on a household project.
  8. Meditate and rest.  Can’t stress this enough.  During today’s grocery store gauntlet, I had to stop and do a quick grounding meditation because I was so unnerved by how under-stocked the shelves were.
  9. Focus on what IS going RIGHT.  Be grateful when stores are still open.  Say thank you to people working at this time, especially in customer service jobs.
  10. Remember and remind yourself of what you can control…and what you can ‘t.  You can control your attitude, your preparedness and your response to this situation as it unfolds.  You cannot control others.  You’re doing the best you can and that’s sometimes the only thing you can really do.
  11. Laughter is great medicine.  Watch a comedy or some stand-up on your TV.  It’s for your health!
petri dishes on table

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A Little Glue, A Little Paper, A Lot of Insight

At certain pivot points of my life in acting, I’ve needed a hobby where I didn’t have to perform.  For me, decoupage has been a place to exercise my right brain, create and decompress without feeling the need to “do it right” or impress.  I’ve done a few good pieces over the years, including a shelf, a glass table top, vases and now these votive candle holders made from the Oui by Yoplait jars.

Things I’ve learned from decoupage:

decoupage jars1.  Tissue paper is very delicate.  It tears easily, especially when wet.  It needs a light touch.  A light touch is often the right touch in life too.

2.  Sometimes the dye of the paper bleeds.  Don’t worry about it.  The things you can’t control are often the most beautiful.

3.  The most interesting patterns have more colors.  Add a little color to your life!

4. The magic of decoupage is in the waiting for the piece to dry.  Once it’s dried, you actually see it.  Before it dries, it’s a wet mess.  Patience pays.

5.  Edges first!  It’s much easier when you attend to the edges first and then work to the center, especially on household objects.  Parameters are important.

6.  It’s okay to “fail” or it not be what you were expecting.  It’s just a little tissue, a little glue, a little water and a little time.  Failure in decoupage is allowed for me!

7.  Especially on clear glass, yellow paper and white paper don’t show up as easily and may need to be double layered in order to “pop”.   Sometimes, you have to make the extra effort to really show something.

8.  For me, decoupage is about creating a mood or bringing color to an intention.  When I bring intention and attention, decoupage is not longer just a crafty thing to pass time, but it’s a way to meditate.

9.  Once you start decoupaging, your relationship with paper may change.  You start to re-purpose envelopes and scrap paper.  Use the unusual to create the unusual.  

I think every working artist feels pressure to perform in their field.  Sometimes, the pressure to perform hems in our sense of play and risk.  When I’ve felt I’ve been at a pivot point, I’ve turned to decoupage to give me permission to play and experiment without fear of judgment.  What’s your hobby?  How does it help you?

 

 

Giving Myself Time

It seems like there’s never enough time.  We pack our schedules full, keep busy, keep moving and still, there’s an emptiness.  Time just flies, and we have so little time for ourselves.

This past week, I resolved to give myself some time back.  I resolved not to just wake up and do, do, do.  I resolved to give myself two hours of my day back.  That’s less than ten percent.  It’s my morning practice.  I’ve had a daily sadhana on and off for years, but in light of some events in my life, I’ve really doubled down on it.

61684677_2166278680159049_4817819988796637184_nI give myself 20 minutes to read whatever I want.  I give myself 30 min of meditation.  I give myself 10 minutes of reading any news that might impact me or piques my interest.  I give myself a 45 min walk and about 15-20 minutes of journaling.  I keep it all on a big, neon, poster board to keep myself accountable, along with my long list of to-dos.

In giving myself about ten percent of my day back “just for me”, I’ve learned things about myself–some of them joyful, some of them not.  So many of us have guilt about putting ourselves first and we absolutely need to.  When we lose our internal compass, we often make decisions that teach us not-so-fun lessons.  When I don’t have my morning practice, I get un-centered and reactive faster than I care to admit.

One of the traps of a regimen, though, is that we can get regimented, and that’s no fun.  I try to re-evaluate my morning practice monthly.  The key to this, for me, has been setting an intention.  What needs healing?  What needs encouragement?  What needs to be confronted?  To me, a good morning practice shifts you in the right direction, so it needs to be re-intention-ed to be effective.  As I shift, my intention shifts, so my practice shifts.  I make sure that the changes I want are small, manageable and actionable.

If you are doing-oriented person like me, a healthy dose of compassion may be in order too.  You may not get it all done.  Life happens.  Sometimes regimens and reality clash.  It’s okay not to get all the self care tasks done in one day.

white cup filled by coffee

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My morning practice gets a little too ambitious, even for me at times.  It’s okay.  I remind myself I can always adjust.  It’s one thing to stretch; it’s another thing to burden and break.  

If you have a morning practice, I’d love to know more about what works for you!

 

In Body, Embody

We have to embody the world we want to see.  If we want less hate, less judgment and more compassion, then we have to hug more.  We have to smile more.  We have to shake hands more.

embodySometimes, though, it’s hard to be “in” our bodies.  Our society privileges the mental and we become mental.  We experience a trauma and we numb out.  Our emotions rattle us.  We want an escape from pain, instead of just feeling the pain and moving through it.  It’s hard to embody our ideals of love and compassion when it’s just hard to be in our bodies.

Yesterday, I was in an unfamiliar part of town and due to some circumstances beyond my control, I spent some extra time in the neighborhood, so I decided to get a massage to make use of the time.  Like I’ve mentioned in some of my prior posts, I’ve been dealing with big girl life stuff and I am still carrying a great deal of tension.  It shows up in my body. Even though I have a regular meditation regimen and a decent exercise regimen, my pent up stress, like me, is stubborn.  Getting a massage gives me the opportunity to understand what stress my body is still holding onto.

A valued person in my life told me that I was the most sensitive person he knew and that I did a great job of hiding how sensitive I actually am.  I didn’t get what he meant until yesterday, when as I was getting the massage a flood of thoughts and images, some not fun and relaxing, danced in my brain.

Ultimately, we have to embody self-forgivenesss and self-acceptance and self-love.  I have to forgive myself for the mistakes I put my body through.  I have to accept who I am today–not try and revivify or reconstruct who I was ten years ago.  I have to love my injuries, both emotional and physical, enough to heal them.

One of the tasks of an actor is to embody a character.  Not all humans walk and talk the same way.  Not everyone holds tension in the same place.  Not everyone has the same center of gravity.  The ancient Greeks created a whole theory of personalities based on bodily awareness.  Chekhov, one of the greats of the acting world, thought every human being has a “leading center” of their body, from which their urges and actions come from.

I am still learning where my actions and urges come from and that’s because it’s my business, literally, as an actor to do so.  As we live and experience, our character is shaped and re-shaped hopefully for the better.  Have you checked in with your body?  What are you embodying?

 

 

 

 

The Simple Joy of a Bubble Bath

Just a reminder that in 2019, self care doesn’t have to be lavish.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  It doesn’t have to be hours of your time.  I took a bubble bath last night, and WOW…it did me a world of good.  What was different though, why I am bothering to write about it, is that I approached it in a mindful way.

close up of frozen water

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We have so much stimuli coming at us.  Our mind can’t process it all.  Our minds filter out so much information.  We do things to get them done, to check tasks off the list.  I decided last night the most meditative thing I could do was be fully present in washing off the cares of the day.  I try to begin and end my day with some kind of meditation.

There’s an exercise I do to get present.  It’s especially useful when I’m feeling frantic, hurried or scattered.

Here it is:

I identify five things I can see.

  • the hundreds of bubbles in the water of varying sizes
  • the pink of my bar soap
  • the red of my wash cloth
  • a nearby candle, unlit
  • my facial cleanser

I identify four things I can hear.

  • plumbing sounds
  • tiny pops of bubbles
  • my hand moving through the water
  • footsteps in another part of the house

I identify three things I can touch or feel.

  • the warmth of the water
  • the crunch of the bubbles in my hands as I play with them
  • the coldness of my shoulders, which were not underwater

I identify two things I can smell.

  • the smell of the bubble bath, bright with a hint of charcoal
  • the eucalyptus smell of my cold cream

I identify one thing I can taste.

  • the mint of freshly brushed teeth

This exercise helps me to get really present in what I am doing and sensitizes me to my environment.  It encourages me to observe, not just do for doing’s sake.  We can buy all the self care our wallets can stand, but we must also invest our time and thought.  We must invest our Self in the self care.

For my favorite things and self care ideas, find them on Amazon!

 

 

 

Deep Coughs, Deep Breaths, Deep Insights

From 12/22 to New Year’s Eve, I caught that nasty bug.  After gallons of cough syrup, mountains of tissue and a lot of rest, I’ve shook most of the nastiness off.  It’s not the first time I’ve been sick during the holidays.  However, this sickness was definitely teaching me something.

I had been keeping a breakneck pace up almost from October forward.  I had crisscrossed the country and also dealt with some decidedly un-fun situations too.  Right before I caught the bug, I felt like I was fighting nearly everything and everyone.  I was hyper-vigilant and agitated.  I feel inadequacy often, and I felt like I was steamrolling into 2019 without a plan and I was a nervous wreck in early December.  Definitely wasn’t feeling “all is calm; all is bright”.

On 12/22, there was a hot tickle in my throat that I knew wasn’t strep.  It’s funny when your throat chakra is out of whack, because it seems like everyone and everything suddenly wants to hear from you.  And there I sat, on my couch, with a a hot lump at the bottom of my throat.

As the illness progressed, it dropped into my chest and I coughed so hard at times that my sides hurt.   Of course the gunk came out in many Pantone shades of yellow to near chartreuse.  I’d tire easily and it was hard to breathe.

photo of plants on white pot

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I’d put a steamy towel on my face with eucalyptus oil and just inhale.  It helped me get up in the morning.  It would calm my cough down enough to sleep too.  I had to take time just to breathe, with full focus, with full intent.  It’s so important that we breathe, especially if in our stressful moments, especially if our tendency is to hold our breath.  Breath can heal and I was reminded of that as I journeyed with this bug.

Stillness heals too.  How often to we allow ourselves the healing that’s available in stillness–not expecting anything of ourselves, not moving, not doing?  I need more stillness in my life.  The world didn’t end because I wasn’t managing it.

 

I slept with intention.  I’ve been learning to set an intention before I sleep, especially to heal what needs healing, resolve that which needs resolving.  I had very thick, metaphoric dreams when I was ill.  I paid attention to them.  The struggle in my dream world reflected the tensions I felt when supposedly wide awake.

alcohol alcoholic beverage celebrate

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I finally shook off most of this illness on NYE.  I still have a shallow cough, but I’m mostly back to being Kristin, but Kristin with a new perspective–one that is paying attention to her breath and giving herself enough stillness.

My wish for you is that you have a wonderful, healthy, happy 2019.

Thank you for journeying with me!