A Coping Skill To Keep In Your Pocket- Dr. Alisa Rosenberg

Sometimes we all need a trusted, reliable, handy and simple way to shift our energy, calm us down, refocus our thoughts, and prepare us for the moments ahead. If you struggle with anxiety or panic, self-doubt, obsessive intrusive thoughts, or impulsive behavior, this technique is a great one to practice and master. It is one of the most effective coping strategies I teach my patients. After a little practice, they report significant feelings of inner strength and capacity for self soothing. Try it out, and then try it again and again. As you practice it, it will get more familiar and easier to use and it comes in handy in a multitude of situations in life. Ready? Ok..

While you’re seated, with both feet on the floor, inhale for three long seconds and feel the air going through your nose and down into your belly. As you do this, close your eyes, imagine the air you’re breathing is full of calm, pure, soothing energy as it enters your body through your nose and streams in from the top of your head. Imagine the energy in a color that fits with what you feel you need (maybe red if you need energy and confidence, blue if you peace and serenity, green if you want ground and connect with nature, etc). The things you want to feel are contained in that colorful energy and the color brightens with each deep filling breath of air you take in. Allow this energy to fill your whole body, through your arms and down to your toes. Really concentrate on how good this energy feels filling up your space and let it overtake any current anxiety, stress, self-doubt, and insecurity that is currently in your way. As you exhale, imagine your fear, discomfort, sadness and any other negative unhelpful energy leaving your body and making even more room for the joy, pleasure and comfort you want to bring in. You can even make a gentle humming sound (hmmmm) and vibration with your lips as you breathe out your nose to ease even more tension, and allow an added extension of effort to rid yourself of this discomfort. After doing this deep breath 3-4 times (or as many as you want/need)…

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Move your attention to the bottom of your spinal cord (just above the rectum), and immediately reinforce your stability and ground yourself by imagining a cord made of a material that feels sturdy and most helpful to you (maybe a thick iron rod, or a tree trunk, or even a sturdy bungie cord) going from that area of your body straight down into the very center of earth. Imagine the cord pulling you and the center of earth closer together so that you are firmly planted to the earth. In that moment, feel the weight of your body on whatever chair or surface your sitting on, and focus on the heaviness of your body and its closeness to the ground. Lastly…

Talk to yourself. Start with “I am OK”, remind yourself that you are not being hurt, you do not need to run away from anything and that in this very moment, you are simply alive and breathing. Tell yourself, “it’s OK for me to take a couple minutes to calm down. It’s a skill I can use anytime I need it, and it works. After I take these few minutes to calm myself, I will be more focused, more joyous, more calm, and more in touch with myself.” Think about what your GOOD intentions are for the coming moment (whether a work meeting, taking your child to school, making an important phone call, or reaching toward your partner to get some understanding), and remind yourself that as long as your intention is kind, loving, and good, and you are grounded, calm, and focused, you can achieve anything you want!

I hope you use these techniques in whatever variation feels right and good to you and that you walk away from the 2-3 minutes of utilizing this coping skill feeling empowered and capable; a better and more confident you than you were a moment before, and more ready to take on your life.

 

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About The Author

Dr. Rosenberg, Psy.D., helps her clients learn to cope with anxiety and other uncomfortable emotions by teaching skills and allowing them a safe comfortable place to reflect and grow. She is a licensed psychologist specializing in women's mental health and wellness. She provides individual 1:1 therapy and leads women's groups for Thrive Psychology in Santa Monica. Dr. Rosenberg is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and The Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA.