– [Ryan] Welcome to Redeem the Commute, Stress and Anxiety course. I’m Ryan, your host. I hope that you enjoy the course today and get a chance to think about or discuss the question at the end with others. Just as a general reminder, the course includes general tips and you should absolutely seek a medical health professional to understand your specific situation. Course is offered by Dr. Kate Witheridge and here she is now.
– [Kate] And finally, emotions, right? So, as I said, it’s really hard to target emotions directly. What I was talking about because I have a few minutes is sort of a little bit idealistic in the sense that these are hard skills but I think they’re helpful to think about when we think about what is that emotional reaction. So, these are actually behavioral, but what do we do when we are feeling anxious or depressed or any other emotion we wanna choose. So, accepting the things we cannot change which sounds very, like, Lord, help me to, you know. But, there’s this idea in psychology called radical acceptance, right? And the idea of radical acceptance is that we often get stressed out because we think of everything we wish we could’ve changed, wish had done, hadn’t done, so we get really past oriented or we start worrying about the future. And the idea is acknowledging there’s a whole chain of events that lead to where I am now, things that I can’t do, undo, it is where I am, it is what it is and by not fighting the current moment, we can actually help ourselves feel better. So the idea is sometimes things are painful, right, but not adding suffering to it. So, my example that I always give for this is riding the TTC, right? Riding the TTC is sometimes painful. When we get stuck in traffic, when the subway decides to go really slow, there’s some sort of delay, when streetcars short turn, right? And the idea of saying, okay, here I am, stuck on the subway, and maybe I did in fact leave for work five minutes late, or I realized it was raining or I have impasse, and well there’s a massive subway delay and I can either leave early now or I’ll just wait and see what happens. But here I am, sitting on the subway, and I’m stuck, there’s a subway delay, things are going slowly, I realize I’m gonna be late to work, or I think I’m gonna be late to work, but there’s two ways of approaching that. One is sort of the I refuse to accept the painful experience of being stuck on the TTC at what time am I usually there, like 8:25, and I realize I might be late to work and for people who ride the TTC, has anybody seen this happen, right, or other settings, yeah? What do the non accepting people do? What was that? Yeah, they get off, right. Anything else people do? They yell at each other, right? They fidget, right, they start getting more agitated, they’re like, ugh, gosh, right? And like I said, lemme start trying to yell at each other, get people involved, like, “Isn’t this horrible?” “TTC is horrible, I’m gonna be late to work.” And they start stomping their feet, right? Are they making the subway move any faster? Right? And they’re actually making a painful experience more suffering, right? And then you can see the people who are whether they know it, they’re practicing acceptance, they’re reading the metro newspaper, every once in a while, pull an earbud out ’cause there’s another announcement. And the reality is it’s painful for both of them. They both might end up being late to work, but one person’s probably gonna show up in less distress than the other, why? ’cause they’re accepting it for what it is. So, radical acceptance is kind of taking here’s where I am, and I need to think what’s the positive thoughts, I need to think balanced thoughts. Here’s where I am, I’m accepting the situation. I’m gonna use my body to show that I accept it by not kind of clenching muscles, not sigh heavily, I’m just kind of sit. Right, we often call it open hands, half smile, the idea like I need to kind of just sit and be, “Alright, it is what it is in the moment, “I can’t undo, how I ended up on the subway “and I can’t predict what’s gonna happen afterwards, “but I can find the middle ground.” So really thinking about our thoughts, our body postures, things like that. So as I say, this is idealistic ’cause none of us are 100% good at this, but I think it’s a good thing to think about for the stressful experiences that we can’t do anything about in the moment. Maybe we start ruminating, or kind of overthinking, like I should have done this, or that person could’ve done that. How do I sit and be like, “It is what it is, “I need to accept this is actually a really stressful, “painful, hard experience, but how do I “reduce my suffering to help me cope “until I can do something about it”, right? So, for me, it’s kind of like, “Well, I can’t do anything on the subway “until I get off, and then maybe I can problem solve “or apologize to my boss or my clients if I’m really late.” But in the moment, I can sit, what can I do? I can do a crossword puzzle. The other thing that can help with our emotions, once again, like I said, is behavioral, is opposite actions. So, this comes from a separate field called dialectical behavioral therapy, which is the idea of really focusing on emotion regulation and the idea of this is that we often have negative emotions that we want to change and the best way to change it is to think about how do I change the behaviors and the though processes and the nonverbal behaviors around how I feel? So, a little bit like fake it ’till you make it, with the idea of if I’m feeling anxious and I behave, and I think in an anxious manner, I’m probably gonna continue to feel anxious. But if I realize when I’m feeling anxious, rather than avoiding a situation, what actually is sort of the opposite action of that would be to approach it. So if I’m feeling really anxious about sending an email instead of avoiding it, I might say, “Let me sit down and open up my browser and start typing.” If I’m feeling anxious about going out, can I try and get dressed and pretend like I’m gonna go out, act like it. Do I notice different body postures? So there’s actually research that suggests if you’re anxious before a presentation, if you stand in a super hero pose for five minutes, you will actually feel more confident. Why? Because if I actually stand up straight, and my body posture says I’m ready to go, I might actually begin to feel better. So, this is once again one of those things that takes a little bit of effort, but I think it’s helpful to think about, “Yeah, what is my urge and what might be “the other thing I could do?” If I’m feeling really angry, can I smile. If I’m feeling really sad, I had somebody who said, she’s like, “I realize I was feeling really sad, “and I didn’t want to do anything, “but instead, I got up out of bed, I showered, “I put on clothes, I put on makeup, “and I put on happy music even though I didn’t feel like it, “I did the opposite of what my feeling said “and eventually, I started feeling better.” So, you can do this for anxiety, you can do it for depression, you can do it for anger, right, if I’m really angry, how do I calm my body down, how do I talk in a calm voice, how do I maybe not approach, maybe I do need to take a step back. But like I said, these last two are kind of the ones we kinda have to work the most on, but I like to talk about it because we do talk about it within the field of psychology and emotion regulation, and yeah, I wanna shift this. What can I do? So, in summary, once again, we wanna think about what’s that way of managing stress that we can work on, shifting our thoughts, identifying those productive versus unproductive worries. We can work on shifting our behaviors by approaching the things we’re afraid of, setting those smart goals, doing things kind of one, mindfully, as we call it, focusing on one thing at a time. In terms of physical sensations, we can work on breathing, we can work on some of those grounding techniques, we can work on that diver’s reflex, ice pack, cold water on our face, as well as even that bit of mindfulness and we can try and work on shifting our emotions through sort of accepting it is what it is, and trying to work on opposite actions.
– [Ryan] Well, thanks for joining us for the Stress and Anxiety course. This was the last day, where we explored emotions and trying to take the opposite reaction to things and so, that’s your homework for today. What opposite reaction can you try today? How can you try to react in the exact opposite way of the one that makes you more stressed and more tense, more anxious? There’s also a PDF attached to today’s content that has a number of resources you can take a look at, where you can get more help, more ideas, more learnings on this topic and for next steps, I’d encourage you to check out our other courses. We do offer a Christianity 101 course that would be really helpful if you’re looking for something to anchor your life on. Many people in seeking stress and anxiety look to themselves and try to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and find that’s not a good way to get out of stress and anxiety, in fact, it can actually add to your stress and anxiety. We need something outside of ourselves to center our lives on and that feeling of stress and anxiety, looking for something to center our lives on is often because we don’t have a personal relationship with God at the core, at the center of our lives. And so, if that’s appealing to you, and interesting, then I encourage you to take our Christianity 101 course. Would be a great way to learn who could be at the center of your life that would actually change everything. We also have our daily prayer. It’s a fairly new thing for us, but every day, Tuesday to Friday, we’ve got a daily prayer that you can partake middle of the day, about lunchtime, or maybe on the evening commute to help you de-stress and calm down after a hard day. Well, that’s it for this course. Thanks a lot for joining us. Hope you’re able to take another one of our courses or join us in daily prayer. Bye for now.
Question: What opposite reaction can you try today? Review the attached resource PDF to learn where to find more help, ideas and learnings on this topic. After this course, we recommend you try Christianity 101, or our Daily Prayer.