Episode 12: Prioritizing Connection and Managing Anxiety in Uncertain Times with Tracey Robison
Live Date: July 13, 2020
Show Description: Tracey Robison Licensed Professional Counselor and Mental Health Specialist and serves as the Clinical Director at Branches Counseling Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Tracey attended MTSU in the Psychology Department and went on to earn a Masters from Vanderbilt University in Human Development Counseling. She also happens to be Heather’s very own therapist! On today’s episode, Heather and Tracey walk through managing anxiety, being our best selves, navigating the uncertainty of COVID-19, isolation and connection, self-talk and self-care, changing the narrative in your head, and the importance of investing in your mental health.
- People from all walks of life and in all types of circumstances deal with anxiety. If you are experiencing anxiety, particularly during such uncertain times, Tracey encourages you to stay in the present. Rather than fret and worry about an unknown future, she wants us to think of your life right now. What is happening today? She says staying in the here and now will allow you to feel healthier.
- Part of overall mental health is knowing what makes you your best self and identifying the tasks and rituals that make you feel good and healthy. For Heather, that’s drinking enough water and cooking for her family. If you are looking for your own list of what makes you your best self, Tracey says to look back to who we were when we were little, prior to negative experiences and emotions. When Tracey was little, she loved flowers. She found herself picking them all the time. And now, as an adult, she enjoys flower arrangements. She encourages listeners to explore what brought them joy in childhood now as adults.
- We are months into a global pandemic, and we still don’t know what the future holds. As we continue to navigate this current and uncertain situation, Tracey wants us to stay connected. She believes this is the single most important thing we can do right now.
- If you are feeling anxious during any sort of crisis, Tracey recommends listing out what you have control over. She says you can draw a circle and in the circle, write anything you have control of, and outside the circle, what you don’t have control of.
- Tracey also encourages listeners to take care of themselves. Often, we feel like we aren’t important enough to prioritize our own well-being, but we wouldn’t hesitate to make an appointment for our family members. Your mental health is as important as physical health, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment to speak about mental health.
- And if you are new to this area of your health, Tracey says the first steps to taking care of your mental health include:
- Learn how to breathe correctly. She recommends the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique – we’ve linked those below in the resources. This physiologically slows your body down, which can allow your mind to slow too.
- Drink enough water.
- Stick to a schedule. Routines help people who are prone to anxiety.
- Stay connected to other people.
- “When we don’t know what to expect, and we are fearing the unknown, anxiety kicks in. And so I think that’s why it’s so common across different people because you can be uncertain about so many different things- about marriage, about your relationship with your family, about your health, about your job, about school.” – Tracey Robison 9:16
- “We are made to have connection with God and with other people. Staying connected in this time is so important. If that means FaceTime, if that means sending snail mail, a text message, a virtual Zoom meeting – anyway that you can stay connected with people is so important.” – Tracey Robison 15:51
- “When we have fear and panic, oftentimes, the tendency is to isolate.” – Tracey Robison 16:14
- “The physical separation is key right now to end the pandemic, but the social connection is critical right now so that we don’t lead to isolation and depression. And so that we stay connected.” – Heather Adams 17:00
- “Self-talk is that tape recorder that you have playing in your head. It’s the automatic thoughts that you have, and the things you say about yourself…Self-care is an action. Self-care is what I am doing to take care of myself.” – Tracey Robison 20:10
- “You can’t change something you don’t acknowledge.” – Tracey Robison 22:27
- “If we make ourselves say things when we are having experiences, even if we don’t believe them, our brain is creating a neural pathway, so that it can become an automatic thought.” – Tracey Robison 26:34
Resources and Links from Show: