More than four in ten Americans (41%) say they are more anxious than last year, according to a report by the American Psychiatric Association in May 2021.
Forty percent of adults in the United States report struggling with mental health issues and addictions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June 2021.
Anxiety “is a feeling that something bad is going to happen.” Everyone has anxiety. People should concentrate on what they can control, said licensed psychologist Dr. Antoinette Collarini-Schlossberg at a Zoom meeting of the Central Queens Jewish Community Circle on Wednesday, October 6.
Dr. Collarini-Schlossberg is also an Associate Professor and Chair of the Division of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Homeland Security at St. John’s University.
Anxious people should monitor their coffee and chocolate consumption, “because those can generate more feelings of anxiety.”
Prayer, exercising, and walking help. Some people breathe in, hold, and then breathe out for a certain number of seconds. Breathing in doesn’t have to be through your nose. Mornings and nighttime are particularly good times to do this, said Dr. Collarini-Schlossberg. Let the thoughts and feelings come and go.
“You can do rehearsals in your mind before you’re actually going to perform.” A basketball player at the foul line takes a few seconds picturing what to do before shooting the basketball, said Dr. Collarini-Schlossberg. Picture or practice what you want to say before the time you have to say it.
Recent Jewish holidays generated feelings of anxiety for many: “Will the home be in order? Will the shopping get done? Will the children be doing what they need to do?” “The anxiety is real, it’s anticipating what’s going to happen,” explained Dr. Schlossberg.
“You have to sift through them and you have to identify them first.” Make a list of priorities. “What things are the most important to do? That helps us to gain control over the things we have to do,” said Dr. Collarini-Schlossberg. “It’s also making a contract with ourselves to do that thing.”
People can draw two lines on a sheet of paper to make three columns. The first column: What is it I am feeling and thinking that is making me anxious? The second column: How is it showing in me? The third column: What do I wish I was feeling and thinking instead? On a rating scale of one to five, can I believe I can get to that point in column three?
Pay attention to what you are feeling. Say things to calm yourself down, like, “Tonight, I will get a good night’s sleep.”
“Our thought process is very important in changing what we do and changing how we feel… Anxiety is something to be managed.”
“With children who have anxiety, it’s very often what we don’t see. It’s the withdrawal… Accident proneness in children can be a sign of anxiety,” tripping, bumping into things, lashing out, and fighting with others.
Children can complain of severe headaches, stomach aches, when there is nothing physically wrong with them. “Then you have to pull for what it is that’s really going on with them… You may have to give them the language to put to what they are thinking and feeling.”
Anxiety “interferes with what goes on with children…but it’s manageable if you start to address it early on.”
Dr. Collarini-Schlossberg worked with a young girl who was developing asthma. “Once we got the anxiety under control, the asthma went into remission.”
Attendee Theresa Guttridge trains salespeople to say or write down their affirmations and goals before making calls. Dr. Schlossberg said affirmations in the morning and before going to sleep are particularly effective.
“Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts,” according to mindtools.com.
Attendee Geula Sabet said visualizations (like being on a beach or pleasant thoughts), being kind to one’s self, and doing enjoyable activities help deal with anxiety.
Rebbetzin Mushky Mendelson of Congregation Machane Chodosh in Forest Hills started Central Queens Jewish Community Circle in 2019 “to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of the community.” They serve as a liaison with social services organizations, food banks, and mental health counseling.
Gift packages during holidays and clothing were given to homebound elderly and to families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
CQJCC has a quarterly newsletter and frequent webinars. “How do I know if something is wrong with my child?” is the next webinar with Educational Consultants Barbara Etra and Dr. Weiner on Tuesday, October 26.
By David Schneier