Dealing with anxiety at the top level

Ardern speaks about the budget at her office in the Beehive this week. Photo / Marty Melville

Is the prime minister still suffering from anxiety?

“I’m constantly anxious about making mistakes. Everything in politics feels so fragile,” she told Next magazine.

The rubber band is still prominently displayed on Jacinda’s wrist so, with the help of Healthyplace, here are some tips for our beloved comrade.

Here some helpful hints in dealing with the symptoms of?anxiety/panic. Sometimes?the simplest little diversions/gimmicks can help a great deal.

  • Talk, Talk, Talk: a good deal of the time, anxiety is caused by unexpressed emotions of one sort or another.?Expressing how you feel, especially to a “safe” person, is usually extremely helpful and therapeutic.? [Yep, I do a lot of that.? It’s often rambling, with convoluted sentence structure, but it is ‘talk’.]
  • Hit a pillow with a baseball bat! Physically releasing strong emotions in a safe way can also be a very helpful tool. [Is hitting Winston or James allowed? They can be so frustrating.]
  • Wear a rubber band: Snapping a thick rubber band on your wrist can be very distracting if you’re feeling extremely anxious. Sometimes, just a change of focus can bring us back into “reality”. [Done]
  • Yell STOP!: Actually calling out the word STOP can alert you to end current negative thoughts, especially if you do it consistently whenever you catch yourself thinking negatively. [I had better not try that in the house.]
  • Talk into a tape recorder: When you find yourself very anxious you can say everything you’re thinking into a cassette recorder. Later, you can play it back and dispute everything you hear! [Why would I dispute it, I know I am right?]
  • Go slow and plan ahead: A lot of anxiety can be avoided before it gets to peak levels if you plan ahead for an occasion. Pace yourself and move slowly.? [Plan ahead, now that’s a novel idea – I must try that.]
  • Familiarize yourself: If you’re going out to an event, it helps to “check the place out” before the actual day/time you have to go. By doing this, the physical place seems less like an “unknown” on the actual day and will often decrease anticipatory anxiety. [I have protection?men staff to do that for me.]
  • Keep a journal: Journal writing is a very effective tool for getting thoughts and feelings out on a regular basis. [I might need to check the OIA rules before starting that.]
  • Exercise: Exercise is a very good way of working off any kind of stress or anxiety. [In my condition?]
  • Proper Diet: Caffeine and sugar are known to add to anxiety symptoms. It’s best to avoid them altogether or keep their intake to a minimum. [Gingernuts OK?]
  • Distraction: It’s always helpful to distract yourself in anyway you can when anxiety is high. Often, I ask my friends (if someone is with me) to tell me a funny or even off-color joke or an outrageous story (even if it’s made up!) just to try to get my mind focused on something else. [That’s why I read Whaleoil.]
  • Throw Eggs!: Throwing safe things, like eggs is often a good release for stress! If you’re upset with a particular person, paint their picture on an egg. That’s especially therapeutic! The eggs are biodegradable and can even fertilize your garden 🙂 [‘Judith’ eggs …. hmmmm]
  • Use “ABCD” cards: A nifty little technique I learned in my travels through the wonderful world of counseling was to use “ABCD” cards. Basically “ABCD” cards are just index cards. You write out a particular scenario that’s playing around in your head using the A-B-C-D method. It is just easier to write one thought on each index card and keep reviewing them. For each thought you :
    A: define the “activating” anxiety-producing event.? [Let’s see, oh, I know: Suddenly destroying the Taranaki economy.]
    B: describe your “belief” about it. [It’s our nuclear-free moment.]
    C: describe what you believe to be the “consequence” of it. [Doh! I save the world.]
    D: “dispute” it. [Why? James said it is the right thing to do.]
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