This post was provided by Amanda Campbell, LPC, a local mom and friend of South Austin Moms.
A global pandemic has changed everything. In addition to being a mom, caretaker, taxi driver, grocery shopper, dinner maker, laundress, employee, boss, you are now also homeschool teacher, germ killer, lunch lady, and the provider of 1,000 snacks a day. That list alone makes me need to take a deep breath. Not just a shallow sigh, but a deep breath that begins in my belly, stays in my lungs for 5 seconds, and then slowly escapes through my nose and lips. Deep breaths are essential to calming our minds and bodies.
As a licensed professional counselor, I have been teaching people and kids for twenty years the importance of deep breathing. It is the first step to reducing anxiety, anger, panic, and overwhelming emotion. I would venture a guess that we have all experienced some, if not all, of those feelings recently. Take a deep breath. Then, take two more. For those of us who are fulfilling new roles, or who are fulfilling multiple roles all at the same time, we may need a reset from time to time.
My favorite “therapy tip” I like to teach kids and adults is called 5 to 1. Your five senses in your one body: taste, touch, see, hear, and smell. When times become overwhelming, when you feel the stress rising, take three deep breaths, and then start to pay attention to your body.
- What do you smell in the present moment? Food cooking? A burning candle?
- What do you see? Your kids? The trees outside the window?
- What do you hear? Is there music playing? Do you hear your kids talking?
- What do you feel? Do you feel hungry? Are you hot or cold? Are you still in your comfy pajamas?
- What do you taste? Is your mouth dry?
Paying attention to what is going on in your body allows you to focus all of your thoughts on the present moment. This gives your brain and your body a short break from whatever it is that is causing you to feel overwhelmed. The beauty of this exercise is that it can be done anywhere. You can do this while standing in the kitchen, driving a car, or hiding in your closet. When you begin to pay attention to your feelings, you start to identify patterns and triggers that make you feel certain emotions. It is helpful to understand yourself so that you are not taken by surprise when different feelings wash over you.
We are all experiencing life in ways that we never expected. It is difficult, but we can do difficult things! I encourage you to observe yourself and to take your emotional temperature periodically. Notice if you are becoming angry or anxious. Take a deep breath and try to clear your mind for a bit. Allow yourself a time to reset, and then begin again. If you feel increasingly overwhelmed on a very regular basis, reach out and talk to somebody. Confide in a friend or family member. Seek out a counselor. Many counselors, such as myself, have now implemented video conference counseling in order to comply with the shelter in place guidelines. This means you have access to counselors in ways you didn’t have before. You can connect with a counselor without even leaving your home. Don’t ignore your feelings. You are too important for that. We’re all in this together and we will get through it.
Now, take a deep breath…
Amanda Campbell, LPC is a licensed professional counselor with more than 20 years of experience. For more information on her background and practice or to contact her, view her profile on Psychology Today.