Anxiety Tips with Talk Tools Training
By: Ryan Forsyth, Promotions Coordinator
Last week, we listed some mental health resources you can check out if you’re having a difficult time during the social and physical distancing. While these are critically important services that can offer help, sometimes people might not notice or think they need help.
Maybe you see someone on social media clearly having a difficult time. Maybe you have a friend or partner struggling. Maybe someone opened up to you, and you’re not sure what to do. Maybe you feel different, but you can’t quite place your finger on what exactly is wrong.
We were able to connect with Breanna Pizzuto, Founder of Talk Tools Training. They offer workshops related to mental health, communication skills and suicide intervention and aim to train caregivers of all kinds the skills needed to talk about mental health in a safe, productive way, empowering individuals and saving lives.
We wanted to find out how we can help deal with anxiety in a time like this.
1. What are some signs people should look for when it comes to anxiety if they aren’t familiar with the feeling?
- Anxiety is a part of being a human and we all feel anxious at some point in our lives, it’s what motivates us to complete projects, go to work, and protect ourselves and our loved ones. What we want to watch out for in ourselves and those around us is when anxiety negatively affects role functioning (ie. the things we are responsible for in all areas of our lives as employees, parents, friends, etc).
- Anxiety can feel different to everyone. Feelings to pay attention to are racing thoughts, worry that is disproportionate to the source, an inability to concentrate, hyperventilating, tunnel vision, racing heart and sweaty palms. Prolonged anxiety can manifest itself in what’s called psychosomatic symptoms such as sore or tense muscles, chronic headaches and digestive issues.
2. Do you have any quick, everyday tips for people who are dealing with anxiety right now?
- Uncertainty really wreaks havoc with folks who deal with anxiety and a lot of instability in the world right now, it is natural that many people will find their anxiety to be heightened. With a lot of things out of our hands right now, it can be helpful to focus on things that we can control like healthy eating habits, taking scheduled breaks from work, maintaining personal hygiene and adequate sleep. Some people find breathing and grounding exercises to be useful in centering their thoughts and bringing them back into the present moment when they are feeling anxious.
- Distraction is also a useful tool when dealing with anxiety. Trying to find an activity that draws your attention away from the feelings of anxiety, or having a conversation with someone you trust can help those feelings subside.
3. How can people help if they know someone who is having a difficult time?
- People can help by prioritizing communication and continually checking in with the people close to them. Without being able to see each other in person, video chats and phone calls are a great way to hear a familiar voice and see a familiar face which will be comforting and grounding to a lot of people who are having a difficult time. Isolation will fuel anxiety, a connection will help alleviate it.
- LISTEN! Listening is so important. The truth is, no one has all the answers right now and that is OK! We have a tendency to go into problem-solving mode with someone who is having a difficult time and this may not be what they really need. Take the pressure off finding a solution to fix things, try sitting back and really listening to what they are experiencing and how it is affecting them. Use open-ended questions, allow yourself to sit in silence with someone, offer empathy and compassion. Feeling heard goes a long way and doesn’t cost us anything.
- If someone is having a really difficult time, there are resources available to help. A call to a family doctor, employee assistance program, the Ottawa Distress Centre, or free walk-in counselling (being offered virtually right now) are good places to start.
If you want more information on Breanna’s services, check them out and follow them on Facebook. Always remember, if you are really worried about immediate harm to yourself or someone else, don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1.833.456.4566. or call 911.
Much love, Ottawa. We’re here for you!