By Juhee Jhalani, Ph.D.
Dr. Jhalani is a New York state licensed psychologist, practicing in Midtown Manhattan. In private practice, she works with adults, couples, and families. She has a long standing interest in working with underserved populations, including immigrants and marginalized individuals. She provides psychotherapy both in English and Hindi.
A weekly anxiety management practice during COVID-19 pandemic, by a practising psychologist
Welcome to a wellness journey where we will together address our mental health during these challenging times. I am with you on this journey as a guide and a co-passenger where we will explore research based daily exercises which will help unstuck us and reclaim our happiness in all aspects of our lives.
We will start the journey from inside-out, focusing first on ourselves and then progressing towards our families, our neighbors and our global communities. Our goal will always be to foster happiness, enhance contentment, and address fears that may arise during these uncertain times.
This is a unique journey that we will be taking on together. I welcome your feedback, your thoughts, your suggestions and do share with us your challenges while engaging in these wellness exercises. Please reach out to our Managing Editor Parveen Chopra ([email protected]) or me at [email protected]
Some guiding points before your start this journey
* This is a journey to foster self-love and compassion. Be kind to yourself and do not judge yourself harshly when you fail to do all the suggested exercises for the week. Try what you can and let go of what you cannot that day.
* If you prefer to do these exercises with your partner, family or child/ren then embrace the uniqueness of each one’s experiences. Everyone will respond differently to these exercises and that’s ok. It’s a no judgment journey.
* Some of these exercises will be easy and some will be unexpectedly challenging at times. Embrace yourself the way you are. You do not need to over-perform. Just be. You are good enough.
Week 1: Soothe the anxious “ME”
The goals this week is to be curious, acknowledge the unknowns of the pandemic, self-soothe and reclaim your freedom during shelter-in-place orders.
Start your day by lying in your bed for a few extra moments. Greet yourself by your name “Good morning/Namaste <your name>, you are alive and breathing”. Take a few moments and acknowledge how you are feeling today in your body and mind. Welcome both the good and the bad. Bring in the day by chanting, “Today is a new day, I will make the most out of this gift”. Sit by your bedside, let your feet hang and let them gradually rest on the floor and feel how the Earth is grounding you. Wiggle your toes and your fingers and smile for a few seconds. Make your bed and create some order in your environment. Resist the urge to check your phone or the news this morning as you move along with your day.
Start your work day with creating a list in a notepad of the tasks that you aim to do that day. Divide the list into short-term tasks and long-term tasks. An example of a short-term task may be, replying to an urgent email or doing your laundry. An example of a long-term task may be, working on writing your book or organizing your photo collection. Address your physical hygiene, groom well and dress up as if you were going to work or meeting a friend. Avoid the urge to stay in your pajamas all day.
Take time to stay active, schedule a walk outside or do an indoor workout. Eat healthy, plan your mealtime and make sure to drink enough water. Keeping a water bottle handy, may help you track your water intake throughout the day. Keep up with your daily tasks, take mental breaks and actively allot times during the day when you will allow yourself to indulge in social media or check the news.
During this first week make a list of activities that you enjoy or use to self soothe. Focus on 5 senses when you create this self-soothing list in your notepad, think of music that you enjoy listening to, food that you enjoy eating, hand lotions that you may enjoy, candles that you may enjoy smelling, pictures that you enjoy looking at. Keep this list handy and use it as a means to comfort yourself when you feel anxious or sad. Write in your notepad times when you felt anxious. Stay in a curious mindset and list down what is causing your anxiety. Maintain a healthy sleep cycle and refrain from listening to the news or watching vivid TV shows that may elicit anxiety.
End your day with a gratitude practice. Hold your hand in front of you and identify 5 experiences that you had today that you may feel grateful for. Keep the gratitude exercise simple and if you prefer, consider writing the 5 items in your note-pad, creating a gratitude journal. This week take time to embrace yourself, your being, your feelings, your preferences and just be.
Teaser for Week 2: We will continue to make connections between our feelings, thoughts and emotions. We will use the coping tools to address our anxiety and attempt to embrace a more positive mindset. Stay tuned.
- The content shared in this article is for educational purposes only; it is not a replacement for psychotherapy therapeutic relationship or medical care.
- Past or present patients of mine risk breaching confidentiality by commenting or writing to the editor. I will not respond to comments in public in order to maintain ethical boundaries and respect privacy.
- Seek professional help, if you need immediate assistance, please call National Suicide Prevention lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or Disaster Hotline at 1-800-985-5990.