A post on Facebook led to a link to an article with 49 phrases to use to calm an anxious child. I am going to explain how these can be used to calm an anxious adult, especially yourself: (My inner child needed lots of calming, especially when I was in counseling and remembering my past.) I am using the phrases suggested by the article and how I might apply it to myself. You might find other ways to use these phrases. (All of them all at once is too big a post so I am splitting it over several days.)
11. “Let’s put your worry on the shelf while we _____ (listen to your favorite song, run around the block, read this story). Then we’ll pick it back up again.” When my counselor first introduced me to this idea I was totally confused. He spent months getting me to face my anxiety and now he was suggesting that I set it aside. He pointed out that the key was to pick it back up again after a rest. I realized in a way I was doing this. I created what I called a worrinomitor, when I knew my DH would be coming home late I set my worrinomitor and hour after he said he would be home. I figure if the time was too late, then I was allowed to worry. Two powerful things happen when I set my worry aside for a bit. First I give myself to regroup and rest. Important when running on limited energy. Second is the brain keeps working on the problems while I am doing something else. In fact, distracting my conscious brain allows my subconscious to kick into high gear. When I learned to control this a little bit I saw a big jump in more good days than bad ones.
12. “This feeling will go away. Let’s get comfortable until it does.” Feelings pass…they do. My second counselor taught me to sit with my emotions. Kind of like asking a friend to sit on the couch next to you and tell you all about their woes and frustrations. Don’t try to solve the problem or discomfort, simply feel how I feel. It is a fascinating process. I didn’t like my emotions much and tended to lock them all up. (Very unhealthy choice.) Working on being comfortable while feeling an uncomfortable feeling was a novel idea and now works for me.
13. “Let’s learn more about it.” Listening to my own emotions was a mega challenge. When I started counseling part of the reason I went was I felt dead inside. I didn’t feel happy or sad or scared or excited. My counselor helped me to learn about it, my emotions. After awhile I became more and more fascinated by the myriad of emotions I was capable of feeling. Go online and look up different emotions. I was intrigued that different people feel emotions differently. Emotions roots dip far into childhood. My counselor was my guide as I ventured into my emotions. Scary place I didn’t want to go but he strongly encouraged me and helped me build a little boat to negotiate my sea of emotions. I went through rough times and wickedly difficult flashbacks before I got the hang of emotions.
14. “Let’s count _____.” An easy version of mindfulness/grounding technique. Count my breaths…too fast slow down my breathing and count s l o w l y. Count the objects in the room, count one thing I smell, two things I hear, three things I touch, and four things I see. Let’s count is the first steps of grounding yourself into the present. https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2015/07/09/mindfulness/
15. “I need you to tell me when 2 minutes have gone by.” Redirecting my focus on something else. For me the clock thing isn’t helpful but I focus on a book, computer game, or anything other than what I am worried about. Exercise is awesome when I have the energy, hard for me to stress and do jumping jacks at the same time.
16. “Close your eyes. Picture this…” Big tool, visualization. Using my mind to take me to my happy safe place. When I was first learning to do this my counselor would direct my visualization. Found a link that might be helpful for some people. http://www.visualization-techniques.com/ I haven’t checked every link but the front page gives a brief description of visualization.
17. “I get scared/nervous/anxious sometimes too. It’s no fun.” I am not alone…talk to a friend, a counselor or check out other blogs that share and understand my feelings. Part of the reason I started this blog was to share with others with PTSD that they are not alone.
18. “Let’s pull out our calm-down checklist.” Make a check list. When I was first learning how to live with my emotions I made a list of different things I could do to help manage how I was feeling. I don’t rely on myself remembering what emotions hit in tsunami waves. I use them so often now that I go to certain ones automatically. I keep expanding my list of finding new ways to help me cope with my emotions.
19. “You are not alone in how you feel.” Like number 17 connecting with others I recognize that emotions effect everyone. Different people have different ways of coping. I’ve learned a lot from other people on how to live with my own emotions, especially my counselors.
20. “Tell me the worst thing that could possibly happen.” Doesn’t take much for me to imagine the worst. Here is the interesting part, I lived through some horrific experiences. I had an unpleasant boss, my counselor asked me to tell him the worst thing he would do to me. I realized that the unpleasant boss wouldn’t do anything illegal so the worse was to fire me. I could live with that. I don’t feel anxiety over what maybe will happen, I feel anxiety about bad stuff happening again. I don’t stay in this mode very long because I can visualize some really awful stuff. However, sometimes I reduced my anxiety recognizing when a situation has a limit as to how bad it can get. I only use this tool occasionally.
The list will continue. Cheering for you and hoping your day is OK to middlen. Bits of fun sprinkled in too would be nice.