How can parents and educators reduce their levels of anxiety in order to help their children and students remain calm? Many adults are experiencing increased levels of anxiety. Society has undergone significant trauma in the last year in the shape of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty and civil unrest.
Rick Griffin, the director of training and curriculum development at the Community Resilience Initiative, shares crucial tips for navigating our current climate in his trauma-informed, resilience-based training.
Mr. Griffin explains how healthy resiliency develops through acknowledging and facing anxieties and then expressing and talking about these concerns in an appropriate way. It is unhelpful to tell someone (including yourself) to stop being anxious or to stop predicting threats.
Instead, you should empathize with the person and help them feel safer. Telling someone to not worry is as effective as telling a 5-year-old to not look at a statue in the corner. Once a person has expressed their concerns, they can bring themselves to a place of calm.
The Community Resilience Initiative ( www.criresilient.org ) highlights the following tips to help reduce anxiety in their Level One Trauma-Informed training course:
- Prioritize being in “safety mode.” When the body feels safe, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin are released. The body and brain are then able to replenish themselves and gain new energy. If you are always in a state of alarm, your body gets depleted. In Mr. Griffin’s words, “What can you do today and every day that will increase your sense of safety and positive connection?” Add more positive experiences to your day and week.
- Own the threat you feel: acknowledge, verbalize, and express it.
- Deep breathing is the #1 best neurological response to threat. Practice deep breathing in moments of high stress and incorporate deep breathing and calming routines into your daily life.
- It is not only okay to take care of yourself first, but also necessary. You cannot give what you do not have.
- Find a supportive, caring person to speak with who will listen to you.
Other mental health advocates and professionals recommend the following tips:
- Prioritize healthy routines. The simple basics of getting regular good sleep, eating healthy, and getting exercise are crucial for mental health now. Time spent in nature increases oxygen levels and assists with deeper sleep.
- Focus on what you can control. Guard your time, emotions, and energy. Limit time on electronic devices, limit the amount of negative news you listen to, focus on filling your mind with positive, uplifting, and inspiring thoughts.
- Practice spiritual disciplines, relaxation exercises, or grounding routines. This may look like journaling, nature walks, prayer, meditation, times of silence, crafting, or baking.
- Maintain connections with supportive friends and family members. (phone calls, video calls)
- Assure and strengthen children. Help children strengthen themselves with positive routines, experiences, and thoughts to buffer the negative experiences. Assure them that pandemic times will not last forever.
If you are struggling with anxiety, you are not alone. Many people have felt off balance in the last year. There are strategies and tools you can use to strengthen your mental and emotional fortitude. You can buffer yourself from the stress of current circumstances through practicing these tips.
More mental health resources for parents and adults can be found at:
More tips for dealing with anxiety due to Covid19 can be found at