I recently joined an anxiety workshop on campus because my cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) therapist suggested that I should see what workshops are available to students. Then she told me that she is happy with the progress I’ve made so far, and that I don’t need to book another appointment until the end of the year. Um, okay.
I have some mixed feelings here: Will I be mentally prepared to handle school in January? What if I have another major depressive episode like last time? Will the progress I made this year be enough to overcome failure?
“Confront the Discomfort” is the workshop I accidentally stumbled upon two weeks ago. When I signed up that day, I was innocently checking emails instead of studying, and thus, procrastinating like it was nobody’s business. This workshop takes place every Tuesday on campus and runs for a total of 3 weeks. I was unable to attend the second workshop since my toddler was with me that day, and I highly doubt that they would have wanted her running around and screaming the place down.
Fight or Flight
I admit that I was hesitant to join this anxiety workshop, since I often dismiss the possibility that anyone can help me with my problems. However, earlier this year I surrendered to defeat and accepted the fact that I do not have the answers to my problems. Shocking, right? I have some of the answers, but not all of them. Also, I am usually reluctant to join social gatherings since my natural instinct is to isolate myself from people. Social anxiety is real man, but I know that social anxiety is not an uncommon disorder. To make matters worse, [social] anxiety sufferers are the ones who are likely to refuse help, and thus, unlikely to attend these workshops in the first place. And yet, anxiety sufferers are the ones who are most likely to benefit by attending these workshops.
So far, I have only attended Session 1, and I plan to attend the Session 3 next week. I was unable to attend the Session 2 so I am missing that worksheet. Using the summary sheet from Session 1, I want to show you how to do the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique and the 3-7-8 Breathing Exercise. Both of these techniques are effective at calming your nerves so that you can focus to the present moment. I’ve been using the 3-7-8 Breathing Exercise for months now and can confirm that it works quickly and effectively.
5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique
- Place both of your feet flat on the floor.
- Lean back into your chair, and make a mental note of the feeling of the chair under you and against your back.
- Cross your arms over your chest.
- Gently tap your shoulders, alternating one side at a time OR place your hands on your thighs and tap one leg at a time.
- Find 5 things that you SEE in the room.
- Notice 4 things that you can FEEL in the room (feet on the floor, itchy sweater you’re wearing etc.)
- HEAR 3 things in the room right now (traffic, clock ticking etc.)
- What are 2 things that you can SMELL OR 2 smells that you like?
- Get 1 thing that you can taste (mint, gum etc.) OR 1 taste that you like OR think of 1 thing that you like about yourself.
3-7-8 Breathing Exercise
- Breathe in quietly through your nose for 3 seconds.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds.
- With pursed lips, exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds.
- Repeat the cycle as needed until you feel a sense of calmness.
I am curious to know if you have attended workshops related to mental health, especially workshops focused on dealing with anxiety. When you were a college or high school student, were similar workshops available to you? If not, is this something that you would be interested in? Please join the conversation and leave a comment below ↓
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