Image courtesy of Emma Moss
Fear, anxiety and overwhelm may be at peak levels after the devastating events in Highland Park. Below are 3 powerful but quick exercises you can do to help calm yourself. You can teach them to your kids or other people in your life who need help settling.
These exercises were also published in an article Meggie wrote for the most recent issue of Our Evanston magazine. If you are struggling with anxiety and fear, it can be hard to think straight. Print out these exercises, or grab a copy of Our Evanston. Having the exercises printed out and laying around your house, office or car will remind you to do them in the moments when you need them most.
Here are some easy exercises to help you in this practice:
1. Wiggle your feet and your wrists. Moving the small joints of your body (like those in your fingers and toes) will trigger a neurological pathway in your brain that brings you back into your body. This will help you find the peace in your body.
2. Take a deep breath. And then hold it for a few seconds. Exhale. Wait a few seconds before taking another deep breath. You only need to hold your breath for three to five seconds. This will inspire a neurological reaction that will move you out of a “fight or flight” stress response.
3. Touch your right knee with your left hand. Then touch your left knee with your right hand. If you can raise your leg up so your knee meets your hand, that is even better! This “Cross Crawl” exercise requires communication between the left and right sides of your brain. When those two sides are connected, you are better able to be present to the world in front of you, instead of stuck in anxiety, fear, or anger.
We reached out to local LSCW Carol Moss, who gave the following input:
A favorite of mine is to take a deep breath, puff out the cheeks and blow the air through atiny space in your lips. The research suggests that it helps to slow downthe heart rate and return the body to calm state.
Another favorite is the Vagal Hold, placing one hand on the heart and theother on the abdomen, which can be done at the same timeas the breathing.
Emotional Freedom Technique, (EFT ) is an option and of course, EMDR if the troubling thoughts and imagesdon’t go away. Here’s a link to the EMDRIA website which has a “find a therapist” option.
Try these exercises the next time you feel overwhelmed. They may seem simple, but they are incredibly effective. You cannot help others or solve the big problems of our society until you are grounded, present and thinking clearly. Use these exercises as a starting point to begin to listen, reflect and find the right action.