If you are familiar with the poetic works of Robert Matthew Van Winkle then this may make some sense to you and remind you of years gone by. If you’re not, then just go with it for now.
Wednesday of this week was my day off and I was lucky enough to be able to go to the anxiety cafe daytime session. This is run every Wednesday morning by the amazing team behind the Anxiety Cafe and covers a variety of activities, a different one each week. Normally when I’ve been there has been a craft based activity and I quite enjoy these. Another time I went there was a kind of interpretive dance session which pushed me so far out of my comfort zone it was surprisingly good fun.
Anyway, I digress (as usual).
This week it was time to be told what to think.
Not in a horrible “…you have a mental health condition you are supposed to act like this…….” kind of way but more in a “…this is how you can think differently and help yourself…” kind.
On walking in, I recognised a few faces, said my hello and found a chair. More people started arriving and before long we were adding tables on. This was great as it meant more people were beginning to find out about the incredible work the team do. It also meant that there were more people I didn’t know and I wondered should I say hello or just wait for them to make the first move?
Will they think I’m rude by not interacting?
What if my lack of communication makes them feel unwelcome?
Bravely, I look across the table at the new faces (obviously as scared and anxious as the rest of us) and give them all a warm smile. No words but enough to let them know they’re welcome and it’s good to see them.
Anyways, the lady running the session was lovely and calm and introduced herself to us. We all said our names and then the session started.
At the beginning of the session was a little bit about having an anxiety first aid kit we can call on for each of us. As individual as we each are it contains something from each of our 5 senses. Now, each of us responds to our anxiety in our own way so this is by no means a ‘cure for all’ but it may allow another tool to be used in the fight against our heads.
In this first aid kit we start with something we can see. This could be a picture on our phones that makes us smile or something in the world around us.
Then we think of something we can touch. Something like a piece of jewellery given as a present or anything else around us. Personally, I find that tapping my fingers together in a rhythm can calm me down.
Thirdly is sound. Sound has been proven (I think) to aid in calming us down. This can be a particular song that brings back happy memories, birds singing in the trees or something as simple as the sound of rain.
Then comes the turn of taste. This is one of my favourites as it gives me an excuse to eat chocolate. It doesn’t have to be chocolate though, it can be anything that we enjoy. Be this fruit (part of your 5 a day?), sweets (it has to be marshmallow flumps) , biscuits, cake or whatever takes your fancy.
Finally comes smell. This can be any sort of smell that can remind you of happy times. My own personal favourite is cloves as it reminds me of some sweets that my great granny used to have on the side when we went round to see them. They were red and white stripes and tasted amazing and I will always love that smell.
After delving in to our sense it was then time to think about visualising happy thoughts. Not in a hippy, trippy kind of way but in a way that would remind us of times when we felt safe or comfortable. Everyone has their own ‘safe’ place and for me it is my grandads house. My grandad was an amazing man who always had time for all of the grandkids and I can still to this day picture every single room in his house as if he were still here with us. Right down to the Tom & Jerry hoopla game that hung in the wall above the serving hatch from the living room to the kitchen.
So there you have it, it’s that easy (as if). It’s about thinking of things that remind us of good times to try and distract our very crafty brains from what it wants us to think instead.
As the great Robert Van Winkle says:
Stop – take time to assess the current situation
Collaborate – join together all the senses
Listen – listen to what your body is telling you
Who’d have thought I could write a blog based on a Vanilla Ice lyric (see, you knew you recognised that name from somewhere didn’t you?).
Until next time………..