Steady, Now

We design clothing for real women, real children, real life. And the truth is, real life isn’t regular right now. So we keep turning to experts to help our community keep calm as we keep cozy. Here’s more from Ann Marie Smith, MA, LMFT, Founder of Awakened Heart PDX, a therapy collective.

“Our resilience in the face of crisis has been really encouraging. On the flip side, a lot of us are indeed feeling really anxious or depressed because the truth is, this is really hard.” 

When feeling fine gives way to funk, Ann Marie’s 1-2-3:

1. Don’t believe everything you think. It’s normal for the mind to be busy. Its job is to plan, organize and problem-solve (and avoid danger). When there’s no problem to solve, the brain usually finds something else to keep it busy—and that something is not always helpful. So here’s the thing: Observe what the mind does, and let it just do that. Let it create the thoughts it wants to. Know that the thoughts you’re having are just thoughts. There isn’t necessarily truth to them, they’re passersby, a product of the mind doing its job to stay occupied. Let the thoughts be and move on to the next thing that actually needs your attention.

2. Make a (mental) great escape. We call this resourcing, and it’s about feeling good. This trick helps to down-regulate the nervous system and build resilience. Imagine a time when you were full of joy. You were 100% happy. This could be a memory of being on vacation, indulging in a favorite meal, sunsets, after a most-amazing workout—see what I mean? We want to avoid choosing people, and sometimes even pets, because our relationships tend to be complicated. So keep it simple and purely joyful. Bring that experience into your mind. Once it’s crystal clear, drop that experience into your heart and feel how good it feels. Enjoy the moment—coming back to a place of feeling really, really good. Simple as that! I like to finish this exercise with offering gratitude to this experience and setting it aside for when I’d like to come back to it.

3. Kondo out those scary thoughts. This one I call the “container exercise” for distressing thoughts. Start by taking a seat (or a pause anywhere). Take a few deep breaths, in and out through the nose, to calm the energy in your mind and body. Once you feel settled, imagine a container of any kind—a mason jar, tupperware, bottle, etc. With each inhale, fill your lungs all the way up, and with each exhale imagine the stressful thought as particles being funneled into the container. Continue to breathe in and out, gently funneling those distressing thoughts into the container. When the thoughts are done, imagine yourself closing the container and setting it aside. That’s it!