It's Amazing How Much How Little Will Do: The Return of the Mini-Toolkit
Back in the spring of 2020 I offered a series of eleven blog posts that I called "Anti-COVID Anxiety Toolkits" which described a variety of exercises, behaviors and breathing techniques I've learned over the years that help induce calmness and reduce anxiety. Some of the tools were simple, some more complex. Some were accompanied by stories (which meant they took a little longer to read), some were short.
Since September 2020 I've been including one of those anti-anxiety tools in almost every post. Here's the (linked) list of all the toolkits.
The (slightly re-tooled) Mini-Toolkit that I offer here, first published on April 9, 2020, was among the most popular of the toolkits, presumably because it focused on the quickest, simplest tools.
All of them only take a few seconds to do or, like humming, can be done while you're doing something else. Of course, if you relax and take a few minutes longer, they could be even more helpful. Try one, or try them all--see what you think.
It's amazing to me that doing one simple thing or changing one simple thing can help shift my mood. Many of these tools are things we do without thinking--taking a deep breath, yawning, etc. But if we know they help us calm down or relieve tension we can do them more deliberately.
There's science behind many of these, and the collected wisdom of years of practitioner and client experience behind them all. As well, they demonstrate a tenet of the various modalities I studied and offered, before I retired, as a healing arts practitioner: "It's amazing how much how little will do" (Hugh Milne).
Scroll down if you want a little more info on each tool. Or click on one of the links if you want the original entry for that tool--in some of the posts you may have to scroll down to locate a tool.
It is amazing how much how little will do.
basically a big sigh
longer (gentle) exhale than inhale
sends a message of safety to the brain
can be whispered for privacy
even better when done looking at the sky
whatever random notes you want
or just one note
feel the vibrations move through your body
kind of like a cat's purr
can be done with others
wiggle and shake (all body parts that don't hurt)
rapidly (100+ times/minute)
make it into a dance
relax and have fun!
looser than a raspberry/Bronx cheer
helps loosen tension in the face
helps you get past feeling like "I can't!"
gets you laughing
brings you back into your body
brings you back into the present where you have resources
calms you down
stretches & relaxes head & face muscles
gets more more juicy fluids going
boosts immune system
relieves tension and stress
decreases stress hormones
improves immune system
9. Smiling (it's worth faking it--here's how)
lift up the corners of your mouth
keep your teeth apart
wrinkle the outside corners of your eyes
wait a few seconds...feel a bit better?
improves immune system
lowers blood pressure
Place you hand on or near your heart
Take a deep breath and let it out gently
Something you might do spontaneously when feeling compassion, for yourself or someone else, or when greeting or leaving a fellow human being
Oh, and did I say? Most, if not all, of these things can help strengthen your immune system, by reducing stress if nothing else.
Until next time,
Tools, Philip Swinburn, unSplash
Felt heart, Sharon McCutcheon, unSplash
Purring cat, Yerlon Matu, unSplash
Yawning puppy, Daniel Lincoln, unSplash
Laughing girls, Caroline Hernandez, unSplash