Practice mindfulness, be present

I'm learning strategies that are helping me to deal with my anxiety, and they could help you, too

How is everyone holding up?

World Mental Health Day was Saturday, Oct, 10, a day to acknowledge the prevalence of mental illness across the world, so I think now is a good time to ask how all of you are doing.

I was reading a news article that discussed the serious upswing of anxiety and depression diagnoses since the beginning of the pandemic. They also were discussing the severe shortage of mental health counselors across the country. So now, more than ever, if you need help, reach out swiftly because there may be a lag. Also, know that you are never alone and my ears and shoulders are available. My email address is below and I welcome you to drop me an email anytime.

I have chosen to be an advocate for PTSD awareness. Through my own therapies lately, I have been able to grasp more about my triggers, but more importantly some ways to handle them. I have been fortunate to be able to practice some mindfulness meditation and find solitude in focusing on my present environment and surroundings, and my breathing.

Mindfulness can relax a panic attack and bring me back to where I truly am. It can also help me to not spiral to when something triggers my PTSD. There are many practices that involve mindfulness, such as guided imagery and breathing exercises, which help with intrusive thoughts and anxiety.

Podcasts and meditation apps are a great resource for practicing mindfulness and are abundant and free. I would encourage even those who are feeling OK today to download one and start practicing. The techniques are easier to learn when you aren’t in crisis and are more likely to work once you have used them.

As I have written about, I suffered a major depressive episode in August. I was able to navigate my way out of the severity of the episode through therapy, medication, and support of my family and friends. But my anxiety remains really high.

My body is living in a constant state of fight or flight. Between the pandemic, prevalent societal issues, remote learning, typical daily duties and my own health problems, I can hardly find a time to relax or just be. Even typing those things out makes me feel anxious! But I am also able to navigate the problems I have control over and separate out those I don’t. I can “ground” (a form of mindfulness) myself by feeling my present environment and being aware of my body and breathing. I encourage all of you to try it!

I also encourage all of you to give yourselves some extra self-love. Remember, we are all in this together and without one another, the world wouldn’t go round. Also, if you live in New England, take a drive or a walk. Looking at the foliage is an amazing mindful exercise.

Lauren Martone is a blogger for ParentingNH from southern New Hampshire. You can contact her at lmart0825@gmail.com. Lauren and her family’s story were featured in the July 2015 issue of ParentingNH and in the July 2018 issue.

To read more about dealing with anxiety and depression during this difficult time, check out the article, “Coping during the COVID-19 Crisis” in the October issue of ParentingNH.

Categories: Carter’s Corner