Sinclair Ceasar is a mental health speaker and educator whose mission is “to end mental stigma by helping people share their stories, explore their brokenness, and seek healing resources.” On Wednesday February 17, 2021, Sinclair spoke with the University Housing & Conference Services staff during a virtual staff development meeting about how to manage anxiety in times of change. During his presentation, he shared coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety and advice on how to stay grounded.
About Sinclair: He has led content-rich workshops and programs at institutions and non-profit organizations around the country. He has years of professional experience as a higher education administrator, including within residential life, academic advising, and first year experience programming. He has been featured in the London Times, Essence Magazine, HuffPost, and Buzzfeed, and has partnered with global wellness brands like The Mighty and Shine Text.
Q: Can you talk about “box breathing” and why it’s important?
Sinclair (S): Box breathing is a centering activity that can be used to manage stress and anxiety. Essentially, you inhale for three seconds, hold for four seconds, and exhale for five seconds – or do any variation of these numbers (1-2-3; 5-6-7; etc.). I’ve found it to be beneficial because focusing on my breath so intently takes my mind off my worries and pulls me from the panic spiral I might currently be experiencing. It’s a useful technique especially during times where the ground seems to constantly be shifting beneath us. Another helpful practice is to notice five objects in your current space whenever you’re feeling anxious. Similarly, this can help bring you to present time and feel much more relaxed.
Q: What is a “when/then habit” and how can people maintain one?
S: So this is adapted from the teachings of James Clear, who recently wrote the bestselling book, Atomic Habits. Essentially, you identify the habit you’d like to build, and you integrate it with unconscious habits you do each day. Say you pick up your phone when you wake up in the morning (unconscious habit), and you want to increase your water intake each day (habit goal). Then you’d practice drinking 10 oz. (measurable goal) of water when (time) you awake (action) in morning, then (reaction) you’re able to go on your phone (reward). To keep track of this, I recommend printing out a calendar, and crossing off each day you accomplish this goal. Try not to miss two days in a row.
Q: Why should people celebrate their small wins?
S: Because, we’re naturally inclined to focus on scarcity, deficits, failure, and danger. Taking a few minutes each week to identify how we’ve won (e.g. I woke up today; I tried my best on this test; I supported a friend even though I was exhausted) can boost our energy, pull us out of a rut, and remind us of hope.
Q: Do you have advice for people who are struggling to stay positive during difficult times?
S: Listen, it’s okay to not be okay. Sometimes, just getting to the next right thing, the next breath, is the best you can do. And, you know what, that’s more than enough. You will get through this.
Learn more about Sinclair and his message:
Lydia Shaloka is a senior Business Administration major with a concentration in Marketing at Millersville University. Her interests include digital marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing. When she graduates in May 2021, Lydia hopes to work for a digital marketing agency either in or near her hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
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