Try Social Stretches for Anxiety

Life and Health Network and I recently developed an online course called Anxiety and Depression Relief. There’s an individual course you can take at home as well as a group course that can be run by clinics, community groups, and churches. I’ve started to personally run a group workshop on Zoom. So far, the workshop has been very well-received with several people I know making phenomenal recoveries.

We set action steps at the end of the sessions—habits that are proven to enhance mood and stress control. Participants have the opportunity to share their experiences with follow through on those steps. I’ve been getting good feedback on the positive effects of deep breathing, grounding exercises, healthy lifestyle, and so forth; but one particular action step seems to resonate the most. I call it “social stretching.”

Social stretching is going a little outside of one’s isolative comfort zone toward connecting with other human beings. See, people with depression and anxiety tend to withdraw socially. Their inner turmoil makes them feel as if no one in the world will understand. They feel walled off, caught up in storms of pain and fear that others can’t see. Loneliness and desperation well up. They begin to tell themselves stories like, “No one understands.” “I’m alone.” “No one cares.” “I don’t matter.” Social stretches pull us out of these loneliness-reinforcing behaviors into connection. A smile at a stranger here. A conversation with a forgotten friend there. It’s amazing how quickly we feel human again.

Here are examples of social stretches you can do on a daily basis. Modify them to personally suit your situation and expand on them.

  • Tell a cashier you like her hairdo
  • Strike up a conversation at a bus stop
  • Wave at neighbors
  • Let people go first in line and smile
  • Ask a service person their first name and use it
  • Ask for directions and thank the person
  • Call message a friend just to say hi
  • Bring a small gift to a neighbor
  • Reach out to a helper-type and offer to pray for them

One important key to implementing this strategy is that social stretches can be small. It’s the baby steps we take that accumulate into giant leaps. Try implementing a social stretch every day and see if it doesn’t lift your spirits!

I’m about to begin the fifth cycle of the Anxiety & Depression Relief Zoom workshop. This dynamite workshop includes the basic workbook and online videos for the course, plus six live zoom sessions for group chat, lecture, and breakout groups. Join us for the next workshop at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/166041746333.

Jennifer Schwirzer

Jennifer Jill Schwirzer is an author, counselor, musician and activist residing in Orlando, Florida. To date, Jennifer has written or co-written ten published books, recorded over 150 original songs, and conducted scores of seminars on various spiritual and practical topics. Her most popular seminars are "Finding Peace," on individual mental health, and "To Love and Be Loved," on relationship health and most recently, "Anxiety and Depression Relief." You can find out more about Jennifer at https://jenniferjill.org/

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