Tag Archives: breathing

An Emotional Survival Guide for Christmas

An Emotional Survival Guide for Christmas

Emotional Survival Guide to Christmas

This Emotional Survival Guide to Christmas has been written to help you navigate difficult emotions over the ‘silly season’.

Whether you are feeling anxious, stressed, lonely, sad, or suicidal even, here are my tips for getting through the next few weeks:

1. Anxious?  Put your head down towards the ground

Christmas Emotional Survival Guide

Are you freaking out in advance about family visiting?  Are you breathing 5 billion breaths a minute? Is your throat tight?  Is your chest feeling constricted?  Are you feeling like you’re going to implode?

Find a quiet space and hang the top half of your body down towards the ground.

Waterfall pose

The pose is called The Waterfall.  I’ve written an article to explain why it’s good for counteracting anxiety and how to do it (assuming that you’re not a Cirque du Soleil performer). 

Give it a go and notice how heavy the top half of your body feels as it bows to the forces of gravity (a complete opposite to how ‘spacey’ and disconnected your head feels when you’re anxious).  How your diaphragm is more relaxed. How your throat is more open.

It’s really hard to have anxious thoughts when your head is upside down.  Give it a go. I dare you!

2. Catastrophizing?  Ask yourself: “Is that really true?  Or am I exaggerating?”

45647769 - render illustration of radioactive warning sign

When we’re stressing out, it’s easy to catastrophize.  “OMG if I don’t get the meal PERFECT the Monster-in-law’s going to sit there with that smug “I knew you wouldn’t be able to pull it together” face and .. and… and…. “

We create stories in our head before they’ve even happened.  But is that really true?  Is it likely to happen? Or are you exaggerating?

Ask yourself that very simple question and see if you can stop the BS in its tracks.

3. Angry? Bash a punchbag/cushion/have a toddler tantrum on your bed

Hitting the sofa with cushions is another way to safely let out anger

I’m not kidding.  If you hold all that rage down, you risk it leaking out at inappropriate moments.  One snarky comment about the turkey can totally ruin Christmas lunch believe me.

I’ve written a guide to show you how to safely release your anger without hurting yourself (or anyone else) and without embarrassing yourself.

4. Comforting yourself with food? Put the mince pie down.  

Mince pie
Step away from the clotted cream..

Find other ways to comfort yourself.  Here’s my personal Lemon Day list of things I can do to comfort myself instead of reaching for the ice-cream.  Have a printed-out list stuck on your fridge door to stop you instantly reaching for the mince pies.

But then again, it’s Christmas … maybe a couple of mince pies isn’t too bad.  (Just stay away from the clotted cream).

5. Stressed? Earth yourself: get grounded and breathe

Earth yourself
Earth yourself

Are you running around at a million miles an hour to get everything done?  Is your house in a state of upheaval because of visitors?

STOP for a minute.

  • Take off your shoes.
  • Walk outside and focus on the sensation of the grass beneath your feet.  (Even if your lawn is less ‘deliciously springy Sir Walter’, and more ‘Bindi-Cobblers Pegs scrub’ – find somewhere pleasant to stand and focus on the sensations beneath your feet. I particularly like warm concrete in the early evening for example.)
  • Now breathe….  Go on, give me a big sigh on your out-breath.
  • Let all that stuff go for a minute…
  • Focus on what you can feel in your body.
  • It’s just you and the ground.  Everything else is irrelevant for a moment.

‘Earthing’ isn’t just for hippies.  Focusing on the physical contact with the ground will bring your awareness out of your head and down into your body. We’re grounding you.  It brings you right into the present moment and makes you feel 100% less stressed.

6. Lonely? Reach out to people you are emotionally close to

Loneliness

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, loneliness can strike hard at this time of year.  Reaching out to anyone is good, but reaching out to people that you have a close emotional relationship with is preferable because they understand you/get you/speak your language.

Getting help

So reach out to your close friend(s).  And if the first person on your list doesn’t pick up, leave a message and then call the next person on your friend list.  Keep going till you get a real live person. Tell them how you’re feeling and ask if they want to hang out.

Right about here is where your inner depresso may spark up and say “But they’re busy with their family.  They won’t want to see me”.  Don’t listen to him/her.  

Inner Depresso

 These people are your close friends.  They know you.  They LIKE you.  Do you think they’d want you to be all on your own feeling bad?

Call them up.  You never know, they could be feeling exactly the same way as you.

And if you really don’t want to tell a friend?  Call a helpline.  They’re not just for people who are feeling suicidal – they’re also there to help people who are struggling.  The numbers are listed below.

7. Suicidal?  Call a helpline (no matter what time of day or night)

18364958 - unhappy

This is where I’m going to be a little firm with you. Some part of you wants to live because you’re reading this message.   So I need you to reach out and tell someone how you’re feeling.

Tell your friend, a family member, your GP.  Call a helpline.  The people on the end of the phone at these helplines want to help you. They want to hear your story (no matter how boring you might think it is). They’re trained professionals.

Your life is too important.  CALL THEM.

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Lifeline  13 11 14
Diverse Voices (LGBT)  (diversevoices.org.au)  7pm to 10pm daily 1800 184 527
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Parent Line 1300 30 1300
SANE helpline  1800 187 263
Men’s Line  1300 78 99 78
DV Connect – womensline 1800 811 811
DV connect – mensline 1800 600 636
MARS – men affected by rape and sexual assault  07 3857 1222
BRISSC Brisbane Rape and Incest helpline (female only)  9am-1pm Mon-Thur 07 3391 0004

I hope this list helps you.  Feel free to share it.

I’m working right up until Christmas Day.  Here’s a link to book online to see me.  Or you can call me on 0450 22 00 59.

If you want to find out more about my Services or the benefits of psychotherapy or counselling, feel free to have a peek around my website.

I’ll then be taking a break to recharge until 18 January 2017.  I have a network of psychologist and psychotherapist pals in Brisbane who would love to help you whilst I am away.  Give me a call to talk about finding someone to help you.

Sarah

An Emotional Survival Guide for Christmas was last modified: December 13th, 2018 by Sarah Tuckett

The waterfall – a pose to help with anxiety

The waterfall – a pose to help with anxiety

If you ever suffer from anxiety, whether it’s just low level worrying and rumination or a full-blown panic attack, you know that it’s not a pleasant sensation.   As a therapist I give people strategies to help with anxiety.  Here’s my favorite pose: the waterfall. 

 

 

When I’m feeling anxious I feel my chest constrict, my breathing becomes shallow and my thoughts are racing a  million miles an hour.  I repeat conversations or scenarios over and over again in my head.  Each time I think these things my nervous system releases more hormones keeping me in flight or fight mode, preparing me to swiftly evade grizzly bears.  However there are no bears.  Just my thoughts.  The quickest way to help myself out of this state of anxiety is to tip over and put my head upside down in a pose called the Waterfall, bringing my energy back down into my body, grounding myself and letting go.  

When you do this pose you’ll notice two things:

  1.  It’s really hard to have anxious thoughts when your head is upside down; and
  2. You feel much calmer when you’re earthed into the floor like a lightning conductor.

Help with anxiety - the Waterfall pose is a bioenergetic pose from Body Psychotherapy

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Find a quiet space and take off your shoes

When you’re feeling anxiety there’s a tendency to loose contact with your body, so feeling the floor beneath your feet is going to anchor you back into your body. i.e. ground you.

2. Stand with your feet hip width apart, toes slightly inwards

(That’s your ‘real’ hip width not the wishful thinking width).  Probably around two hand spans apart.   Making your toes turn inwards slightly will stretch some of your glute muscles.

3.  Bend forward and touch the ground with your finger tips

Slowly bend forward until you can touch the ground (bending your knees as much as you need to in order to touch down).  Make a little claw with your fingers and use them to anchor yourself down into the ground.  There should not be any weight in your hands.

4. Let your head and neck hang loosely

This is a pose of surrender; of letting go.   Do a few yes and no movements with your head to release the tension in your neck and then just let it hang.    When I do this pose I feel like my body is melting down towards the ground like a candle. 

5.  Breathe in and sigh out

Breath in through your nose and sigh out through your mouth. Letting go of everything. 

6.  Search for the sensation of vibration

What we’re aiming to do in this pose is let go in your muscles and in your mind.  We’re asking your mind and your muscles to relax and melt into the floor.  So we’re going to search for the sensation of your muscles letting go.  This feels like little vibrations up the back of your body.  It’s the opposite of having your muscles locked-up for strength.    Keep your knees soft (off-lock).  (All you yogis out there – this is different to Uttanasana – you’re aiming for softness not a hard stretch). Slowly straighten and bend your legs to find the place where your legs slightly vibrate.   Once you’ve found the place, just breathe into it. Breathing in through your nose and sighing out through your mouth.    If you don’t feel any vibrations, make your out-breath longer (it’s often hiding there).  And if you’re feeling adventurous you can gently lift your heels off the floor and bend and straighten your legs.      

7.  Hang out down here for 1-5 minutes

Depending on how much time you have, whether your nose clogs up upside-down,  or whether the phone rings.  Just hang out down here as long as you feel you want to.  Always come up slowly so that your blood pressure can equalise.  

8. Don’t worry if you don’t feel any vibrations at first

When I was first taught this pose I hung out there for 10 minutes willing my body to let go.  I had anxiety about the fact that I couldn’t do the pose “properly”! My muscles were really flexible from years of yoga and dancing, but my mind was more rigid.  It wasn’t until I softened my mind that I felt the vibration and relaxation.   There’s no competition, just let what happens happen and enjoy the peace and quiet.

For more information on how I can help with anxiety please have a look at my Anxiety page or have a look at my Services page which tells you all about the different techniques I use to help you recover (counselling, mindfulness and body psychotherapy).

If you would like some help with anxiety please feel free to give me a call on 0450 22 00 59 or  book online.

 

Warm regards

Sarah
x

 

 

 

The waterfall – a pose to help with anxiety was last modified: September 7th, 2017 by Sarah Tuckett