Dear friends, these days I am seeing more and more share that they are in a state of worry and fear. But that fear and worry wreaks havoc on your physical wellbeing.
During these times especially, we need to be doing all we can to keep ourselves in a mental state of ease and calm.
Here are a few things you can start doing today to guard yourself against fear and worry:
Be mindful of the media you consume: watching the news, scrolling through your Facebook feed, and even binge watching dark Netflix series. The songs you listen too with the killer baselines but have negative lyrics. Limit these as much as possible for one week and experience for yourself, the difference it makes.
Immerse yourself in uplifting books, watch shows that inspire, and maybe trade your fearmongering Facebook in for the lighter inspiring feelings of Pinterest or Instagram or TikTok.
Do something creative. Being creative requires you to be present and it’s the most wonderful distraction from thoughts that concern you.
Meditate. This probably should have been number one. If you are finding yourself in a state of fear and worry, meditation has this wonderful way of shutting those emotions down. When you quiet your mind, you block your thoughts, including those negative ones. And no thought is better than negative thought. Meditation is like hitting a reset button for your emotional state.
Reach for activities and things that calm you and are satisfying: get outdoors, take a walk, take a bath, light some candles, breathe in calming essential oils like lavender or those that are grounding like frankincense. Do some gardening or baking if that’s something you enjoy.
Some studies I read when I was preparing to write this post emphasized the importance of staying connected to friends and social networks. Text or FaceTime a friend. Organize a zoom call.
Make positive lists. Journal. My daughters and I have been doing this more and more often. We make lists of things we would like to do, where we would like to go, places we would like to travel, meal ideas/recipes we want to try, birthday ideas, things we can do for others.
Learn something new! Learning a new skill is empowering and also helps you to be more present.
Whatever you choose to do, choose something that will get yourself to a mental place that feels better. I hope that these suggestions can help point you to some ideas that will bring you more peace. ✌🏻
*Curious about how anxiety affects the body exactly? Here is a Psychology Today article that’s a bit older, but explains it pretty well. And there is this one as well.
Watching sand.tagious kinetic sand cutting videos is so satisfying. If you don’t know about them, I’m happy to introduce you.
What is it exactly that makes the sound of cutting sand so satisfying? Apparently, sounds like this trigger a ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) which is a “low-grade euphoria,” a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin, particularly the scalp and spine.
An entire genre of ASMR videos has emerged on social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram with the discovery of this phenomenon. And kinetic sand cutting is just one type of ASMR video. Other ASMR types include whispering, crinkling plastic, and crunching.
The intention of the videos is to calm and soothe. sand.tagious videos have been praised by those with anxiety, autism and insomnia but anyone can appreciate them. You can read more about sand.tagious and the ASMR connection here.
Our family loves kinetic sand cutting videos because they are calming, and they help us to clear our minds and be present. I dare you to be anxious and stressed out while watching. It just isn’t possible.
More than that, sand.tagious videos have inspired us to be more creative with our kinetic sand. Watching and listening to someone else play with and cut kinetic sand is satisfying for sure, but doing it yourself adds a kinesthetic and tactile element that is just as satisfying.
We have had fun trying to make our own kinetic sand cutting videos, using found items around the house with our sand, and acquiring tools like the ones used by sand.tagious. This set includes just about everything you would need to get started and is the best bang for your buck.
I was watching a series on Netflix with my kids called “The Healing Powers of Dude.” It’s about a middle school kid named Noah who has an emotional support dog named Dude…and social anxiety.
I was explaining to my almost eleven-year-old daughter that I could relate to Noah in so many ways. That I was very much like him at that age. As a young adult I wasn’t surprised when I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. My daughter couldn’t believe it. She said, “But Mommy you seem extroverted.” I thanked her for the compliment and started sharing some ways that I overcame it.
I wondered if other young people might benefit from the wisdom I’ve gained and maybe wouldn’t have to struggle like Noah did. Like I did.
So here they are, five things I did (and still do) to cope with and eventually overcome social anxiety:
1. Stop nightmaring. Nightmaring is where you go “worst case scenario.” You come up with all kinds of imaginary possible outcomes in your mind, and many of them are utterly absurd and irrational. I totally had a habit of this, and still catch myself doing it from time to time. In “The Healing Powers of Dude” Noah imagines losing Dude or his schoolmates turning into Zombies. Some more common examples of nightmaring would be imagining that everyone is looking at you, or talking about you. Somehow I felt like imagining all of the possible negative outcomes would help me be prepared, but what I realized in time was that those negative things rarely ever happened – I was just imagining for nothing. The key word though is “imagining” and it’s good news because that means it isn’t real. It’s fiction. And you cut it out by staying present which is number 2.
2. Stay present. The term anxiety means that you are focusing on imaginary negative future outcomes. They are illusions only in your mind. You can eliminate them entirely by staying present. But how do you do that, you ask? When you can’t shut your thoughts off? There are several strategies I use: conscious breathing. Meditating. Yoga. Go outside and be in nature. Tap into any one of the five senses. Finding joy in what you are doing in this moment, which is also number 3.
3. Find joy. Look for things that are satisfying. Make lists of things that bring you joy. Lists of your hobbies. Create vision boards. Find a couple of safe people, like Noah did.
4. Recharge your battery daily by taking some quiet time for yourself. Chances are, if you have social anxiety, you also are an introvert. Your energy gets depleted around others and especially new social situations. You need to know when you need to withdraw and recover. In one episode of “Healing Powers” Noah realized he needed to step away from the party and be alone in a quiet room. I still to this day will withdraw from a group when I feel low energy. It’s self-care when you have social anxiety.
5. Take comfort in routine, structure and schedules. Those of us with social anxiety are often triggered by the element of surprise. The unknown. The unexpected. On the flipside, routines and structure are calming and reassuring for us. This is how I am able to teach middle school. I need structure and routine for my own well-being and it makes it very easy to create it for my students. I generally feel safe with my groups of kids, we know each other and the sequence of events from day to day is predictable. I am writing this during the 2020 quarantine and even here at home, without realizing it, I have created a very predictable routine and schedule for our family. It becomes second nature with practice. Noah enjoys going to concerts and I do too. He says he feels like he can blend in with the crowd and I totally get that. After you’ve been to a concert you know what to expect and you feel at ease with the whole show routine.
I have come to accept that I will never be an extrovert, and I don’t know that I want to or need to.
Final words of wisdom?
🐾 Practice staying present and being in the moment! Remember that life is supposed to be fun. Plan fun and exciting things for yourself.
🐾 Try as much as you can to replace your nightmaring with daydreaming. It’s great to flash forward and think about what might happen in the future – but make sure they are good things.
🐾 Give yourself space when you need it.
🐾 Remember that structure and routine are your friends. They are comforting! The whole reason anxiety exists is because it is fear of the unknown. By creating predictable routines for yourself you lower the anxiety for yourself and those around you. This does not mean you have to live in a box. Our family goes on lots of adventures! But I make sure I do lots of planning beforehand and that I am with people I trust when I do them.
🐾 And one final thought. Give yourself permission to just stay quiet. So much of my social anxiety as an adolescent came from feeling like I had to know what to say. But now as an adult I realize it’s perfectly acceptable, if not preferable, to stay quiet.
My dad used to say “attitude is everything,” and as a teenager it would annoy me. Now, as an adult, it resonates. We are doing our best to make the most of this stay home time and have the best attitudes we can. I wanted to share some of the things we’ve been doing to make this time special and memorable.
We love going for walks in the neighborhood and really love going on hikes. Many activities have been cancelled, but hiking and being outdoors is not cancelled!
Flying kites. Most people think of March as the windy kite flying month. But the entire spring season rocks for this. Check out my blog post on my three best kept kite flying secrets. (I just gave you one.)
Crafts! We love arts and crafts. It’s super fun to get curious and try new things with art. One of my favorites was making our own scented crayons. Check out my post on how to make them.
Scavenger hunts. My kindergartener, Madeline, has received quite a few scavenger hunts from her teacher and really liked them. I am a teacher too, so it inspired me to try and find some my middle schoolers would enjoy. Our favorite was without a doubt was the photo scavenger hunt. You can find it as well as photos from ours here.
Sidewalk chalk fun. We have always loved sidewalk chalk, but we were really inspired when our friends started posting their chalk mosaics on social media. So of course we wanted to try it ourselves. You can check out my post on them here.
Acts of kindness. We have had fun trying to think of ways to show kindness during this time. One way was to paint and hide kindness rocks at one of our favorite hiking trails. Another was to go through our books and take some we didn’t want anymore to our Little Free Library so other children can enjoy them.
Drives. We live near country roads and drives out in the country are the best. Winding roads lined with trees, beautiful fields and farmland, favorite music cranked and sun roof open. This was not canceled. I would like to add the we are so grateful for drive through coffee and curbside pickup. This lets us help support local businesses too.
During this time of quarantine, I try to stay focused on ways to give myself and my family every advantage possible: to be the healthiest, mentally stable versions of ourselves. Healthy diet and self-care have been a priority for sure. We have slowed down, are eating better and exercising more than we did prior to this time.
But I am always open and seeking other ways to keep us at our best in a time where circumstances would point to the opposite. I follow a gal on Instagram who mentioned earthing in a post, and that she found her info on NCBI, and I was intrigued.
What is earthing? NCBI explains, “Earthing (also known as grounding) refers to contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, some of them patented, that transfer the energy from the ground into the body.”
Early humans walked the earth barefoot and even slept on the ground. Could this have given them a physical advantage over their modern-day, rubber-sole-wearing counterparts?
I also share the concern of many about the introduction of the fifth generation of wireless communication technology. The NBHI study gives us hope stating that earthing “essentially eliminates the ambient voltage induced on our bodies from common electrical sources.” 🌲❤️
After reading through the NBHI study on earthing, it does seem to show evidence that walking barefoot is more than beneficial. When we engage in earthing we are making direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Order up a serving of “sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food, physical activity,” and add to that list…earthing. Research to date shows “it may be an essential element to the health equation.”
The past two days, I’ve experimented. I made a point to do simple outdoor tasks barefoot. Watering the flowers, checking the mail, having coffee. What I noticed afterward was not only a calming, but the nostalgia of that feeling of grass between my toes. And the realization that I am much more tender-footed than my ten-year-old self who could run across a gravel driveway unfazed. I have missed this.
Move over Lysol and Clorox wipes. Dirty feet may keep you healthy.
After reading this study several years ago on the effects of wifi, I quit sleeping with my phone and using it as an alarm clock. And it also birthed a skepticism and concern within me about the effects of our electronic devices on our bodies, and ultimately the writing of this post.
Have you had a chance to make a sidewalk chalk mosaic yet? We love them. Every aspect of it is satisfying, from planning a design, to putting down the tape, coloring and maybe especially peeling off the tape for the big reveal.
My girls had been begging to do another sidewalk chalk mosaic ever since the rain washed away their last one. Thankfully, the Easter bunny brought them more chalk and tape. 🐇
Anna Claire, our ten-year-old, was very strategic about choosing the day to do it, watching the weather so that they would get the maximum number of days to enjoy it before the next rain.
Last time I did most of the tape work. This time the girls did it without help. We have learned you don’t have to be too perfectionistic about it. It will look good no matter what.
We have also learned it is wise to sweep the area or pick up any debris so the area is clean before you start taping. If you don’t, the tape won’t stick and stay put as well.
It is also worth mentioning that we did not use a template. I have read that others “combed Pinterest” searching for a template. You certainly could! We personally opted not to because we felt like part of the fun is creating your own design.
If you do create your own design, it’s helpful to decide what the outside shape will be, then just be sure to the smaller shapes you create inside are polygons: triangles and trapezoids look best. Lots of angles!
You can put in some additional planning if you want the design to be symmetrical. We opted for more abstract.
We also had better chalk this time, “much more pigmented” (the words of Madeline, my six-year-old) and we loved the names of the colors: Macaroni and Cheese, Mauvelous and Granny Smith Apple, to name a few. We have decided we would like to be hired by Crayola to choose the color names!
So many parents have been reaching out on social media about what to do with their kiddos during this time.
It can be hard to find movies that are fun for the family without any inappropriate language or violence. I am starting a list here that I will build on and add to. While they aren’t educational, quite a few are based on books and I find my oldest often wants to read the book before or after watching. These are safe and enjoyable and we are all reaching for that right now. I hope these bring joy to your home as they have to ours. Feel free to share any you’ve discovered in the comments.
A Dog’s Purpose (Amazon)
Bridge to Terabithia (Netflix)
Because of Winn Dixie (Disney+)
Freaky Friday (Disney+)
Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Amazon)
Scales: Mermaids are Real (Netflix)
Wonder Park (Amazon)
Trolls: World Tour (Amazon)
Mrs. Doubtfire (Amazon)
The Parent Trap (both versions Disney+
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Disney +)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies (HBO – free 7 day trial)