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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Managing the Monkey Mind

Oh the nerves, the nerves; the mysteries of this machine called man! Oh the little that unhinges it, poor creatures that we are!
--Charles Dickens

As promised, though belated, a few tips for managing anxiety-- part one.

1) Don't suffer twice. When we worry about something in our future, (and there's nothing to be done about it) it's a lose-lose situation. If it happens, we get to suffer twice. If it doesn't, we worry for nothing.

2) Mind your stories. A Swedish proverb says: Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. We can tell ourselves pretty alarming stories that have no real basis in probability. Check for facts. How many times have planes crashed at PDX today? This week? This year? Chances are that same pilot who's already landed the plane safely 8 times this week will also do fine today.

3) Take a breath. When we are fretting, we are often literally holding our breath. We don't breathe out all the used up air, and we end up in a bit of an oxygen deficit-- which does nothing to soothe our anxiety. Try "box breathing"-- take as much time to breath out as in, and make sure to pause for a reasonable time between inhalation and exhalations.

4) Get some distraction action. Since what you feed (your mind) grows, look for healthier places to invest. Listen to some music, taste a lemon, do some art.

5) Fire up a more logical part of your brain. Think of your brain like a power grid. If one part-- say that pesky amydala, which is all about emotion-- is all lit up, chances are the areas that access logic and reason are a bit dimmed down. Shift the resources by engaging in a few minutes of algebra, or even sudoku. Firing up those neurons will take a load off.

More to come.
Meanwhile, a song to soothe you.

Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. ~Swedish Proverb


Anonymous said...

I love your fresh quotes and metaphorical images that allow one to revisit information in a novel way. You are so excellent! Janice Melland LSCSW

Jana Svoboda, LCSW said...

Thanks, Janice-- I really appreciate the feedback. Gets quiet around here!