Octave’s tips for mental health and kicking cabin fever out the door

Photos by: Octave

As we shift to the new normal of spending much more time isolated indoors, mental health studio Octave (GCT 2019) shared five tips for managing emotions, alleviating anxiety, and staying connected.

De-escalate your emotions.

If and when your emotions spike or peak, follow these three steps.

  1. Identify the emotion that is getting out of control or that is overwhelming you. Is it fear, frustration, anger? It may be a mixture of different emotions. Slow down and name what you are feeling.
  2. Validate the emotion, recognizing that although it’s gotten intense, there is a reason this feeling has become dominant.
  3. Allow yourself to express the emotion verbally, preferably to someone who is able to just hear you and sit with what you’re feeling (not change it). Expressing emotion is key to modulating, or bringing the feeling state back to normal levels.

Sean Bell-Thomson, PhD, Therapist and Clinic Director, Octave

Use breathing exercises.

Try 4-7-8 Breathing or Box Breathing exercises to calm immediate symptoms of anxiety.

  1. 4-7-8 Breathing: This breathing pattern aims to reduce anxiety or help you get to sleep. Breathe in through the nose for counts, hold breath for 7 counts, exhale breath through mouth for 8 counts. Repeat the cycle up to four times in one sitting.
  2. Box Breathing: This breathing pattern can heighten performance and concentration while also being a powerful stress reliever. Breathe in through the nose for 4 counts, hold the breath for 4 counts, exhale breath through mouth for 4 counts, hold the breath for 4 counts. Repeat the cycle up to four times in one sitting.

Kristen Scarlett, LMHC, Therapist and Clinic Director, Octave

Acknowledge anxiety, but don’t come up with solutions for it.

Anxiety during times of uncertainty is normal. We recommend validating and accepting the anxiety and fears, but avoid coming up with solutions. Everyone’s fears are valid, and unfortunately, we can’t fix them. So instead, let’s focus on listening, providing support around the fear, and removing pressure around having all the answers.

Genny Finkel, LCSW, Therapist, Octave

Avoid cabin fever.

The best way to do this is to learn something new and stay in touch with your loved ones. There are so many activities to try right from your home. Try out MasterClass and learn from renowned professionals on how to cook, sew, knit, play sports, write, etc. In addition, many workout classes that we all used to attend in person are now being offered virtually, and some for free. Lastly, avoid cabin fever by planning a coffee catch up or happy hour with friends using Zoom or Google Hangouts. You will have to provide your own drinks, but the connection can feel the same.

Kristen Scarlett, LMHC, Therapist and Clinic Director, Octave

Set up a ‘Situation Room’.

Worry has a way of extending itself across the day. Schedule a specific block of time with your partner each day — 15, 30 mins — to discuss worries and game plan for the rest of the day and week. Throughout the rest of the day just write down your worry thoughts as they arise and do your best to only bring them up during this Situation Room meeting. This leaves more time for present-moment connectedness, as opposed to constant time traveling and catastrophizing.

Jett Stone, PhD, Therapist, Octave

Visit Octave to learn more about all the ways you can make the most of this opportunity to check-in with your mental health and grow your practice of mindfulness.