Week One: Bilateral Stimulation to Calm your Nerves
We are starting a new mini-series on coping skills to calm your nerves and retrain your brain. In this series, I will teach practical coping skills you can implement into your daily routine. I encourage you to try them, even if they feel silly. Figuring out which coping skills work for you might take time and experimentation. I am not your counselor; these are simply ideas, so be sure to talk with your counselor about which coping skills are right for you.
As an EMDR-trained therapist, incorporating bilateral stimulation with coping skills is one of my favorite things to do with my patients. In this episode, I want to teach you how to use butterfly hugs to calm your nervous system and reign in the runaway brain.
Butterfly hugs explained:
Place your right hand on the left side of your chest and your left hand on the right side of your chest.
Begin to tap, slowly and gently, right and left on your chest.
Focus on taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. If you’re able to, please close your eyes.
Week Two: Verbal & Written Processing
This week I want to bring up the most underrated coping skill – verbal and written processing.
Why processing through journaling or talking is powerful:
- It gets it up and out. If you can’t talk about it, it owns you.
- When we stuff emotions, they find their way out somewhere.
- Bottling up your emotions can drain your physical energy. Your organs, tissues, muscles, endocrine glands, and skin are receptive to your emotional experiences, causing memories to be stored in your brain and your body.
- It helps you spot inaccurate thoughts. Sometimes just saying or writing it, we recognize it’s not true.
- It lets God and trusted loved ones into our struggle.
- It grows our faith to look back on old journal entries and see how God took what the enemy meant for evil and turn it for good.
Here are 3 ways you can healthily process thoughts and emotions, plus a practical tip to implement each:
- Pray. In other words, talk to God.
Practical tip: Talk to God throughout your day. In the car, showering, walking, cooking, or folding laundry.
- Seek wise counsel (a counselor or a trusted friend who won’t judge)
Practical tip: How to be someone a friend can process with in a healthy way:
- Ask, “do you want me to listen or give feedback?”
- Be slow to give advice. Most people just need a listening ear and a hug.
- Keep their information safe. The quickest way to break a relationship is to reveal information that isn’t yours to share.
- Expressive writing – AKA Journal
Practical tip: Try bullet point journaling, writing a note on your phone, put it in a Word document, add dates to reflect, use a coloring book that makes you happy and write shorthand notes on the sheets, or use a journaling Bible.
Week Three: Exercise and Mental Health
This week we are reclaiming territory on a coping skill that is a God-given way to cope with mental and emotional stress – exercise.
Benefits of Exercise
- Regular exercise can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.
- Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being.
- Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being by releasing endorphins.
- Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so will your mind.
- Evidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD or trauma.
Practical Tips to Add Exercise
- Diversity is key.
- Go for a walk and talk to God, a friend, or your spouse
- Make it enjoyable. Be a kid again. Examples: trampoline, jump rope, dice games, riding bikes, collecting shells on the beach, going for a hike
- Skip the elevator and take the stairs
- Park at the back of the parking lot
- Go to Costo with no list
- Walk during your lunch break or while your child is at soccer practice
- Call it your “get to,” not a “have to”
- Submit it to the Lord. Since our body is His temple, let’s ask Him to show us How to move in love.
Your body needs to move but LISTEN to it. Years of silencing our bodies cause us not to trust what it needs. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.
Week Four: Worship as Warfare
Our final episode happens to be airing on Halloween, so I felt led to discuss the power of worship and shifting the atmosphere in our hearts, home, and workplace.
Worship is a weapon.
Worship releases worry.
Worship shifts the environment.
Worship sends the enemy running.
Ways to worship:
- Praise and worship. Even if you can’t sing it, let it play quietly in the background.
- Words as worship. Thank God throughout the day.
- Actions as worship. What do you spend the most time and energy worshipping?
- Dance, workout, work, whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.