Keeping sane keeping compartments

91Gph1pFN4L._AC_SX466_We are living in an extraordinary time.  Even if the pandemic is not in your city (yet) you are affected by it in some way.

I’ve found as a counselor working with my clients, that even in the best of circumstances, underlying conditions like anxiety and depression are difficult to manage.

Add in an extra external stress and it can be the tipping point.

I’ve been advising clients to manage their stress as best as they can and to think of self-care practices they can do each day that will be sustainable during this time of dramatic change.

I think one practice might be compartmentalizing.  It can be a useful short-term strategy to navigate the tide of anxiety.

I emphasize short-term strategy because at some point, when the crisis subsides, one can begin to properly process more deeply the effects and feelings of the prolonged stress.

There also may be periods within the crisis where one can process as well.

So how do you begin to compartmentalize this experience?  I like to think of it like a filing system that you can imagine in your mind.

Start with the first folder: “Coronavirus Epidemic”.  Just putting it into a folder usually feels a bit better, something is now there that can ‘hold’ it for the moment.

Maybe underneath it you start to build sub-folders  like ‘Stats of cases’ ‘Local government actions’ ‘Department of Health advice’ as well as more personal sub-folders like ‘How does this effect me?’ ‘How does this effect my family?’ ‘How does this effect work?’ ‘How does this effect travel?’.

Then sub-folders underneath those sub-folders to spell out more options like the following:

Coronavirus Epidemic—How does it effect me?—I am healthy—I maintain my health—i.e. exercise, eat well, sleep well, maintain social networks.

But then you get to that last one, ‘social networks’ to help maintain health and then you start to deal with a government suggesting social distancing and abstaining from gatherings.  But this doesn’t have to feel like a wall.

I encourage you to create another folder, entitled something like ‘Creative solutions’.  So when you end up reaching an obstacle in your filing system, you can put ideas into this folder that may lead to solutions.

I recommend to all my clients to utilize both social media and online support groups and meetups for additional social support.  For those on a path of sobriety, you can find an extensive list of online 12 step support groups:

Meetup is offering some of it’s groups online also.  If you know of others, please leave comments and share.

Keep calm and stay informed.

Copyright 2020 Eileen Dey Wurst and photo credit

Draining the Memory Swamp

17239629401_da589c8e17_nThis past week I’ve been ruminating on the challenges and difficulties of past relationships.  There hasn’t been any particular reason why I’ve been reflecting on these memories (like when you hear a song and it reminds you about a certain time in your life).  They have just come up, emerging like gas bubbles released from deep underwater chasms.

However, now that I have indulged several days of inner exploration, I am experiencing the consequences of too much reflection.  It feels as if my psyche is getting too murky sloshing about in that swamp of memories.  In psychotherapy we call this experience ‘emotional flooding‘.

Those suffering from PTSD or other traumas, those in early recovery, or those who have suffered with anxiety can all have periods of emotional flooding.

The ‘cure’ is to literally ‘dry out’.  Thinking about other things is one technique, which requires mindfulness, conscious awareness of one’s thoughts.

Balancing and calming the nervous system is also helpful, whether that is through meditation, Reiki or soothing teas.  Also engaging in activities that are more rewarding than stressful, whether that is exercise or creative pursuits.

So, I turn to those skills to help ‘dry out’ the emotionally waterlogged body and mind.

I’ve only just begun, so it will take time, the article I linked to states it takes 20 minutes per flooding cycle.  Mine has been going on for several cycles, so until it resets, probably several hours I will be painting, a way to be active and creative to move through this emotional state.

Copyright 2018 Eileen Dey Wurst

Image credit


Reiki technique for anxiety

Over the years I’ve realized the benefit of taking a few minutes and giving my solar plexus and heart Reiki when that familiar bubbling sense of anxiety creeps upon me.  Social settings, speaking engagements, auditions…are all anxiety-provoking for me on a varying scale depending on the situation.  But all in all they are manageable.

Lately, I’ve been involved in numerous projects that all have hard and fast deadlines attached to them.  Maybe it’s the word, ‘deadline’…obviously you won’t die if you don’t meet the date, but something might.

Yesterday, my anxiety level peaked to a place I have never experienced before.  An unpleasant tingling all throughout my body and sense that I was several feet out of my body persisted much of the afternoon.

Meditating, trying to ‘blow it off’, going for a walk, nothing was switching it.

Finally, I tried my old solar plexus/heart Reiki hand position and let the sensation totally overtake me.  It felt as if the whole room was immersed in anxiety!  My cat Comet, who was laying next to me actually reached out his paw and touched my shoulder as if to say, “You can do this”.

So with a little prodding from Comet I just breathed completely into being in the sense of overwhelm.  I then began to do an internal guided meditation, relaxing every single muscle I could remember and let the relaxation response exist in the anxiety.

Getting down to my feet I imagined roots growing out and down through the floor into the earth.  I gave direction for the anxiety to flow into the earth and on the in breath I pulled in grounding energy.

Breath by breath I felt the anxiety was ‘pumping down in the earth’ and getting recycled with a purer, fresher flow.

My sense of being out of body changed to being in my body.  The unpleasant tingling began to subside.

As if on cue, Comet took his paw off my shoulder, and I spent the next few minutes just giving thanks for my body to return to homeostasis.

Today there is a subtle awareness of the anxiety and I’m going to just ‘give space’ for it, and if need be, go into the process completely, knowing, as I do from past work with Insight Reiki, this too shall pass.

Reiki for Inner Peace

In our forever changing world full of unpredictability, one method of remaining calm stands above the rest:  Reiki.

It’s an easy and yet very profound technique of hands-on-healing that soothes the nervous system and brings about an inner state of peace.

Worries, concerns, and fears begin to melt away in the nurturing support of Universal Energy, which is what Reiki means.

Developed in Japan at the turn of the last century, it is an age-old practice of using the self as a channel for higher frequency vibration.

As that vibration flows, one’s mind and body return to balance.

Reiki is similar to meditation, only the focus is not on a mantra or even the breath.  It’s about letting the ego step aside.

I’ve often said that ‘Ego’ stands for “Edging God (or whatever you consider greater than you) Out”.  When we are full of ego, there is not room for that which is greater.

When we make room for that flow, the possibilities for healing are endless.

The word ‘heal’ comes from the same Latin root “whole”.  Our healing process is a returning to becoming whole.

That which doesn’t serve you will fall away.  So anxieties and fears are often the first to ‘go’.

Reiki also works on the physical level as well, and aches and pains are often lessened.

There is literally more room in the body and mind because it is being infused with this higher vibration.  Some practitioners call it ‘light’, because after receiving a treatment, one often feels much lighter and relaxed.

Inner peace is possible.  Reiki is a way to get there.  Keep learning and practicing and work with a teacher who is available to answer your questions as you progress on the Reiki path.

Reiki is not a religion but more of a lifestyle choice.  It’s about self-impowerment and having the ability to access healing potential and relaxation wherever you go, whatever the circumstance.

The practice asks you to give yourself permission to receive.  To take time out so that you can be restored.

I’ve been working with Reiki for over 15 years and established the only state licensed vocational school of Reiki in WA state.  I am a licensed mental health counselor and have taken Reiki into many mainstream settings.  For more information, visit and

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