Welcome to Day 6 of the 7-day eMentalFitChallenge!
Staying active is important to help manage your stress and anxiety during this difficult time. We are committed to sharing with you some proven tools and strategies for reducing daily stress and anxiety levels. Exercising only takes a small part of your day, but the benefits are long lasting!
Today's subject relates to anxiety
Wishing you a fine journey through this wonderful eMentalFitChallenge.
The CKA Team
Disclosure: Information in all emails of this eMentalFitChallenge is collated from various sources stated after each article. The main purpose is to present current publications on different subjects related to mental health that may be useful. The CKA / ACK will not be held responsible for any consequences or damages that may occur as a result of the use, misuse, misinterpretation or abuse of the information shared. We emphasize that the aim is to help guide you. Should anyone require guidance in interpreting any of the provided information, they should seek the advice of the proper specialist.
Some Anxiety is Normal
Anxiety and fear are normal parts of the human experience and not necessarily a problem. The fifth edition of the American Psychological Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lays out some specific criteria for when fear and anxiety can be labelled as mental disorders.
When They're Persistent
As a rule of thumb, fear and anxiety qualify as disorders if they last six months or more without a clear stressor. For instance, being anxious about an upcoming speech is probably normal; but being constantly anxious about appearing in public, even when there is no event planned, suggests a disorder.
When They're Out of Proportion to the Actual Threat
For example, being afraid when stuck in an elevator can be considered normal; but refusing to ever get into an elevator is out of proportion to the actual risk.
DSM-5 is careful to note that since people with anxiety disorders are prone to overestimate the threat level of situation they dread, whether a threat is "out of proportion" should be determined by an experienced mental-health clinician. It also notes that the clinician should take culture and context into account when determining whether the fear or anxiety is actually out of proportion; there's no one-size-fits-all rule.
Anxiety : Identify, Manage & Repeat
Today, we will focus on one level further than stress, and that is anxiety.
One of the body's reactions to fear and anxiety is muscle tension. This can result in feeling "tense", lead to muscle aches and pains, or lead to a feeling of exhaustion. Think about how you respond to anxiety. Do you "tense up" when you're feeling anxious? Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a method that helps relieve that tension.
The premise of PMR is that by tightening and releasing all the major muscle groups of the body in an exaggerated fashion, you will end up feeling more relaxed and at peace with yourself, and much less stressed than you otherwise would. Consciously exaggerating and releasing muscle tension also help you learn to recognize when you are holding on to unnecessary muscular tension so that you can use relaxation techniques to relieve this stress before it gets out of hand.
Your Daily Task : Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Take 10 minutes a day to check in with yourself and your anxiety level which will often be highly correlated to your stress levels. Pay attention to signs of anxiety. Do you notice racing thoughts, excessive worry, changes in sleep or appetite, irritability or moodiness? After checking in with how you are feeling in the moment, find a comfortable and quiet place to sit down and practice your relaxation exercise. You can do your 10 minutes of relaxation once per day, or break it down into two 5-minute sessions.
Anxiety and Stress
The terms stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably, and for good reason because there is a lot of overlap between the two. Stress is related to the same "fight, flight and freeze" response as anxiety, and the physical sensations of anxiety and stress may be very similar, including feeling nervous or tense, increased heat rate, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling, trouble concentrating and difficulty controlling worry.
However, the difference between the two is that stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress. Stress focuses on mainly external pressures on us that we're finding hard to cope with. When we are stressed, we usually know what we're stressed about, and the symptoms of stress typically disappear after the stressful situation is over. Anxiety, on the other hand, isn't always as easy to figure out. Anxiety focuses on worries or fears about things that could threaten us, as well as anxiety about the anxiety itself. Long-term or chronic stress can increase an individual's risk for developing anxiety or anxiety-related disorders.
7 Steps to Calm your Inner World with Words
Spring has sprung and hope is in the air, but not everyone is feeling peachy. It's been a tough winter and your inner world might still be thawing out. That's ok! Before you let the sunshine in, it can actually help you to sit with the stormy stuff you're going through. According to scientists, putting negative feelings into words can help us understand and regulate negative emotional experiences. In short, the best thing you can do with unpleasant emotions is not to numb them, but to name them.
Check in with yourself
Take a second and do a quick, silent check-in with yourself. Ask yourself: "what I am feeling right now?" What is the word that best describes it? If you're feeling anxious, name it, internally. Say to yourself "I feel anxious." If you're feeling angry, say that too. Even if you're simply feeling calm. Say that.
Hint: Start with the basics. With emotions, going basic is a good place to start. Think "emoji" basic. There are hundreds of feeling words, but don't get caught up on getting it exactly right. Focus for now on your most common emotions: mad, sad, happy, disgusted, scared. You might even try looking at yourself in the mirror. What does your own facial expression tell you?
Now get precise
When you get specific and find the precise word or words to describe the emotion, you will get closer to what you're actually feeling. Find multiple words synonyms or nuances to describe the emotion. This is called "emotional granularity" or "emotional differentiation" and getting "granular" will improve your well-being and reduce unhealthy responses. It will actually make it less likely you'll resort to using substances to numb out.
Make a note of it
Write yourself a message about what you're feeling. It could be a quick note on your phone, on the back of a napkin or on a little yellow sticky. Or you could post it on your social media. (In fact, a recent student demonstrated that even tweeting out your feelings reduces their intensity.) Plus, writing down what you feel can help you clarify what's going on.
Take it to the next level
Try writing out a more detailed expression of how you feel. Whether it's a special, hardbound journal or a ratty old notebook, take it out. Go ahead and dive in with what you're feeling. Take 15 minutes to really delve in. For decades, researcher and psychologist Dr. James W. Pennebaker has been demonstrating how writing and, in particular, expressive writing can help people understand and process what's going on in their own minds and bodies.
Say it out loud
Express your emotions by simply naming them out loud. Verbalize the feelings.
Talk it through.
Talk therapy, also called psychotherapy, has long revealed that speaking about our feelings is therapeutic. So, once you've verbalized your feelings, don't stop there. Go ahead and dive in. Expressing and describing your feelings to a friend, a loved one or a therapist might give you greater clarity even while it makes you feel good.
Now go full circle.
Check back in with yourself. How are you feeling now? Or better yet, what are you feeling? To calm your inner world, you need to get familiar with it. As the emotion scientists say: you've got to feel it to heal it. Ifyouremotions are overwhelming, persistentand/orareinterfering with your daily functioning, it's important to seek mental health support.
Can Exercise Help?
Exercise is roughly as efficacious as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT,) but generally less than medicines.
- Aerobic exercise reduces anxiety in people who have clinical anxiety, with higher-intensity exercise tending to be more effective.
- Resistance training has less evidence, but it seems to benefit people with anxiety disorders and with overweight or obesity.
- Yoga tends to incorporate the basic anti-anxiety coping strategies: deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and stretching. Yoga is also a form of meditation, which may help.
CAN MEDITATION HELP?
Keep in mind, however, that the quality of the evidence has been questioned and that many studies only measure improvements in anxiety symptoms, but not anxiety disorders as clinically diagnosed.
What are some general coping strategies?
Read more & Source: https://examine.com/guides/coronavirus/?ref=topnav#stress-and-anxiety
Today's Exercises for your eMentalFitChallenge
This technique involves gently squeezing and then relaxing different groups of muscles.
Lie down with a pillow under your head. Breathe slowly through your stomach. For each part of the body, tighten your muscles for 5 seconds. Then release them for 20 seconds. Pay attention to the relaxation of your muscles. Let your body sink into the bed or the floor mattress without resisting. Then go to the next muscle group.
Follow the steps below.
- Close your fists and clench them. Release
- Bend your forearms toward your shoulders to inflate your biceps. Release
- Push your arms straight down, blocking your elbows. Release
- Raise your eyebrows as high as possible. Release
- Close your eyes tightly. Release
- Open your mouth wide. Release
- Lean your head back, burying it in the pillow. Release
- Shrug your shoulders as if you wanted them to touch your ears. Release
- Push your shoulders back, as if you wanted your two shoulder blades to touch. Release
- Tighten your buttocks. Release
- Tighten your thighs together. Release
- Point your toes up. Release
- Stretch your whole body by closing your eyes and feet. Relax and feel like your body is heavy and sinking into the mattress.
Being more active is very safe for most people, however, some people should check with their doctor before they start becoming physically active. If you are planning to become much more physically active than you are now, consult a Kinesiologist to guide you through your process. Find a kinesiologist near you. The CKA will not be held responsible for any consequences related to performing these exercises.
Stay Tuned for Tomorrow's eMentalFitChallenge:
- 3 Exercise Resolutions That Can Lead to Success
- Workplace Stretching
Looking for some more mental health support through exercises?
Find a kinesiologist near you (click here)
Missed the emails from previous days of the 7-day eMentalFitChallenge, find them here:
Day 5: Managing Stress