Wellness Wednesday – Managing the Monkey Mind

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Oh the nerves, the nerves; the mysteries of this machine called man! Oh the little that unhinges it, poor creatures that we are! –Charles Dickens

A few tips for dealing with anxiety

1) Don’t suffer twice. When we worry about something in our future, (and there’s nothing to be done about it) it’s a lose-lose situation. If it happens, we get to suffer twice. If it doesn’t, we worried for nothing.  Planning is different: if you can do something to improve an outcome, do it. It’s one thing to obsess uselessly you might be in a fire; putting in a smoke alarm is practical action. 

2) Mind your stories. A Swedish proverb says: “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow”. We can tell ourselves pretty alarming stories that have no real basis in probability. Say you’re freaked about flying. Take a minute to check for facts. How many times have planes crashed at PDX today? This week? This year? Chances are that same pilot who’s already landed the plane safely 8 times this week will also do fine today.

3) Take a breath. When we are fretting, we are often literally holding our breath. We don’t breathe out all the used- up air, and we end up in a bit of an oxygen deficit– which does nothing to soothe our anxiety. Try “box breathing”– take as much time to breathe out as in, and make sure to pause for a reasonable time between inhalation and exhalations.

4) Get some distraction action. Since what you feed (your mind) grows, look for healthier places to invest for a few minutes. Listen to some music, taste a lemon, do some art.

5) Fire up a more logical part of your brain. Think of your brain like a power grid. If one part– say that pesky amygdala, which is all about emotion– is all lit up, chances are the areas that access logic and reason are a bit dimmed down. Shift the resources by engaging in a few minutes of algebra, or even Sudoku. Firing up those neurons will take a load off.

Need more help dealing with stress? Drop by the Advising Center in Takena Hall first floor for more resources.  The Advising Center also has short term counseling if you want someone to talk with and help make a plan for improved mental health.  Call 541-917-4780 to schedule an appointment, or write onlineac@linnbenton.edu

Jana Svoboda, LCSW 

LBCC Advising/Mental Health Faculty

Jana Svoboda

Advising Faculty, LBCC. Clinical Social Worker, mental health educator, lover of the natural world and certified member of the Cloud Appreciation Society.