Just how wound up is your nervous system right about now, and what is overwhelming you? Do you have any clue what to do when everyone around you says those notorious two words: “Calm down”? Financial stress, kids, gained that weight back again – and if that ain’t enough, there’s the coronavirus update every hour on the hour. Good grief. Where’s the pacifier?

If it feels like anxiety is just following you around all day, it’s time for some self-soothing, sweet friends. You may be tempted to grab a box of chocolate chip cookies, a keg of beer, or your credit card and head straight to the mall to decompress. I know what your favorite flavor of cake is: “More.” But before you do, please know that when you see your bill or get on that scale after binging or overspending, you may just have another meltdown.

It’s a great idea to get your body moving, but perhaps not straight to the shoe store. Try taking a walk first, inhale deeply, and exhale slowly. Make it a practice to breathe slowly and deeply a few times a day. Your heart beat will slow down and your body will immediately begin to relax. You never know how much you value your breath until you can’t breathe.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of retail therapy, mind you; but remember: Shopping is the shortest distance between two points – you and broke. And, no, retail therapy is not covered by your insurance. But maybe it’s just an “Add to Cart” kinda day. Then again, everything’s 100 percent off – if you don’t buy it.

But seriously, it may be time to find your happy place. Perhaps it’s relaxing in your bed after a long day. Unless your bed is that magical place where you suddenly remember everything you forgot to do. Never underestimate the comfort of a soft down blanket and a hot cup of tea in the evening. Off to Club Bed, featuring DJ Pillow and McBlanket. Down time is crucial to your sanity. So please do not feel guilty carving out some of it to watch your favorite show, listen to that podcast, or read one more chapter of the book you can’t put down.

By all means, do what brings you joy. If it’s baking, then go right ahead and get your hands in that dough. Or do what I do: Go to Pinterest to look up that one recipe. Pin everything. Bake nothing. Lol. Whisk me away. Maybe it’s volunteering, or just walking and taking pictures of things that strike your fancy. You know the grass is always greener when you crank up the saturation in Photoshop.

You say you can’t find peace in the chaos of life? Simply do what is possible and right in front of you now, sweet friends. Do ordinary things for yourself and others. Trust me. It matters. No, it will not change the world or even the way people act towards you. But it might just change you. Don’t fight with those negative thoughts in your head. Just let them pass like the clouds in the sky, or waves in that glorious ocean.

Everything is going to be okay. Place your hand over your heart and gently remind yourself that you are not your feelings. You are bigger than your fear or anxiety, and you can simply bear witness to them without becoming overwhelmed.

The truth is that the greatest weapon you have is the ability to choose one thought over another. You know what they say: You cannot calm the storm. So just calm yourself. And the storm will pass.

 Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.