Check the Right Box: Worried? Sad? Anxious? Panicked?
By Sandy Schroeder
Most of us are anxious, sad or worried at one time or another, but when worries become too heavy or anxiety interferes with everyday life, it's time to acknowledge it and do something about it.
I was glad to see an elementary school teacher featured on the CBS Morning News show who talked about her system of helping her students communicate when they were upset. She provided Post-It notes ranging from bright yellow (happy) to deep dark red (very sad) and her students posted how they felt each day. Later they sat in circles and talked about how they felt. These kids are learning early to read how they feel and to share it with others in an effort to help each other. This type of openness also helps them accept mental issues as commonplace instead of hiding them.
As adults we may or may not be that open, but either way we need to stay in touch with our feelings, and to know when to seek more help when it is needed.
UCLA brain specialist and New York Times bestselling author Gary Small, MD, helps us gauge where we are with anxiety with questions like these in his book, The Small Guide to Anxiety.
- Do you fear social situations and dread being embarrassed
- Do you have intense fear episodes with sweating, rapid heartbeat or loss of breath
- Do you have trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Do you have muscle tension or restlessness
- Do you have uncontrolled thoughts that you dwell on
- Do you experience stomach upset or ongoing indigestion
As you review the questions, you may want to consider seeing your doctor for a referral to a therapist to work through the issues.
At the same time, keep these tips in mind to help roll back some of the sadness, anxiety or depression.
Avoid isolating yourself - Put yourself out there to interact with the people around you instead of hiding out at home and hoping everything will be OK.
Reach out - Connect with friends, family and co-workers for advice and assistance. Surprisingly, many of them may have experienced the same feelings, and have suggestions on ways to cope.
Get moving as much as possible - Morning walks, afternoon meditations or short breaks during the workday to stretch or do chair exercises can lift your spirit and help you stay focused.
Spend time outside - Green trees, sunlight and fresh breezes can help you filter out some of the negatives. Inside, fresh flowers or green plants help too.
As time moves forward, keep reading your feelings and reaching out for what you need. If your Post-It is deep red, don't ignore it. Do something about it. Reach out to friends, family or a therapist now.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic