Relax your body
Muscle tightness, fatigue, and jitter can be quickly triggered by the Reptilian Brain’s fear. When we initially left our offices to stay at home, I constantly felt like someone was sitting on my chest. I was afraid I was having a heart attack (I wasn’t). Then I found out that my peers felt this too. Chronic stress symptoms are at an all-time high.
Whenever I get ready to go somewhere (with my mask, of course), my chest feels tight. I NOTICE it and think about the trigger, then I take a few deep breaths. Most of the time, that works.
Pick one part of your body at a time, starting with where your stress is piling up. That would be shoulders for me. Tense up for a few seconds then let it go. Breath in and out while you do this, sometimes panting helps (4 pants out and a deep breath in). Teach yourself how to slow down. Those of you who know me are laughing right now… but I can actually do this and often!
Dismantle Negative Thinking
Feelings create a reaction to our thoughts which are interpreting what’s happening. It isn’t TRUTH, it’s interpretation. Here is a couple of thoughts I’ve had:
“Can I still teach? Why do I continue to forget where things are? Wait, how do I open Sharepoint again?”
When you feel the negative thinking changing your mood, ask yourself “what was I thinking before this? Where did the negative thought come from and why?” Question your thoughts. Here’s another frame that helps – say Yes, But. “Yes, I didn’t get much done today, BUT tomorrow I’ll have more energy.”
Identify at least one thing that is going well or that doesn’t need extra focus.
I’m an excellent worrier (I wish it was warrior). I start the day with a quick reflection prayer and gratitude. I pick three things that I am grateful for. Today, mine is ‘it’s a beautiful day, I’m at work with real people, and I have plans for dinner’. It’s also helpful to share your list with someone else.
I have a body prayer that I like in the morning as well. Say the capitalized word while slowly doing the arm movements:
STRENGTH Reach your hands above your head, hands together.
COURAGE Bring your hands down to your chest, hands praying together.
GRACE Bring your hands out to the sides of your body with palms up.
JOY Bring your hands together behind your back.
If you are a person of faith, you can think of the words and actions this way:
STRENGTH (from God) gives me COURAGE
GRACE (from God) gives Me JOY