We’re in a crisis, a global pandemic-an experience many have never had before. Our minds are racing, hearts pounding, bodies quivering at one level or another. Emotions are telling stories of anger, agitation, fear, sadness, and worry. We’re being asked to stay home-whether it’s safe for us or not. Technology is now the front and center of our worlds-connecting us to our jobs, support systems, and the ones we love. The world, the nation, and our small community is anxious and it’s OK if you are too!

Anxiety is not “bad,” is our natural response to a real or perceived threat and sometimes we need to feel anxious in order to stay safe. When our mind receives this message, it turns on alarm systems within the depths of our brain. A place called the limbic system-it is home to an almond-shaped group of nuclei, that is known for its role in our stress response or our process of fear. This response is often referred to as our “fight or flight” state. When this alarm sounds, the brain signals the body to take action. This is when one may begin to experience an increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, emotional dysregulation, and rapid thoughts. Yup, anxiety can tend to “take over-” physiologically, emotionally, and cognitively!

The good news is nothing is wrong with you and this experience you are having is not permanent. Your mind is not who you are, your brain can change no matter how old you are, your body is adaptable and your spirit is resilient. A couple of our greatest tools are within-a deep exhalation will automatically shift your nervous system from stress to relaxation. Try inhaling for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds and listen to the “whoosh” sound as the breath leaves your body. Make sounds like Mmm, Ahhh, and Hmmm as you reach your hands up to the sky and back down to your sides; this can be relaxing and help you take a mini reset. Or, take yourself on a walk at one of the many trail systems in your home town. Anxiety decreases when we take action!

Lastly, remember there are people out here that care for you including all of the staff and clinicians at San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group. We are still seeing clients on Monday-Friday via teletherapy and this month we are offering Facebook Live Events to teach you coping skills!

If you are experiencing a crisis, please call 719-589.3671 or call the crisis hotline 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255). For after business hours assistance, please call 911 or the crisis hotline 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to receive mental health crisis support.

By: Jessica Chacon LPC, San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group