Mental Shifts to Help Reduce Anxiety
If you are anything like me, you have been there many times, feeling an overwhelming sensation take over your entire body and all of a sudden doing anything can feel impossible.
Anxiety plagues a huge percentage of our population to varying degrees. Ranging from chronic anxiety with the inability to function through society or even hold a job, to small indescribable spurts of what feels like mental paralysis, sadness or annoyance.
You may not even know that the feelings you have are anxiety. The emotions are sometimes described as:
↠ ‘upset but I don’t know why’
↠ ‘I really don’t want to do this but I don’t know why’
↠ ‘I feel like I have so much to do but I can’t move forward’
↠ ‘I know what I have to do but I can’t move forward’
↠ ‘I just want to be alone’
I speak here only from my own experience. I would say I experience anxiety a few times a week with a more intense episode once every two weeks. .
What I have realized for myself is that anxiety stems from my brain thinking too far into the future and not being present in the given moment. When I start to go down the road of ‘what ifs’ it generally leads to doubts or an unsure feeling which causes me to spiral my thoughts and become anxious.
I use a few methods to cope and that’s what I would like to share with you today. Of course I always recommend you chat with a doctor or therapist for your own needs around mental health. No matter how severe you interpret your symptoms anyone and everyone can benefit from therapy!
Do you ever catch yourself in the day not breathing? You’re breathing but you aren’t really breathing, your chest is tight, your shoulders are tense. The oxygen is not circulating deeply. Whenever I begin to feel anxious, I know I need to take a few deep breaths.
Find a place you can step away from the business, ideally somewhere quiet.You don’t want to worry about someone walking it on you during this moment, although, of course it’s okay if they do, you aren’t doing anything wrong. But when you know you are alone you will feel more comfortable and able to relax.
I simply take 5-10 deep breaths, breathing in for 2 counts, hold for 2 counts, and exhale for 2 counts. As you breathe in fill your diaphragm with oxygen and expand your belly as opposed to puffing out the chest.
The deep breaths create an intense influx of oxygen to your cells which can feel like a lot, dizzying even. But it also feels calming and refreshing and leaves me feeling grounded and calm.
Move the Energy
I think we all know we feel better when we work out. Moving our bodies allows us to physically move stagnant energy throughout our system. Tension and stress often lives in our bodies in certain areas. I’m sure you already have an area of your body that comes to mind now whether it’s your hips, knees, shoulders, neck, or temples. These manifestations of pain can also be a result of a traumatic experience.
Moving our bodies allows us to work through this stuck energy and help release it. Exercise also releases endorphins giving us a sense of happiness and relaxation.
You don’t have to go for a 10 mile run, or do a crazy sweaty HIIT workout, something as simple as a walk or an undistracted stretch can make a huge difference.
Keep going, no matter how slow.
When you identify that you are having or feeling anxiety it can be really hard to even stop to try and think how you are going to work through it. I think most of us know it will eventually subside so we might think that our day is ruined and that we should just sit with it until we go to bed.
I recommend trying to move forward with your day by identifying 1 small thing you can do right now. Even if your goal was to spend 5 more hours working and you only get through 1 hour, that’s okay. Your mind/body may be asking for rest so just do your best and take it one small task at a time.
Working out and continuing with your day are of course easier said than done. I know even that can feel like a lot and may even provoke anxiety further. Feeling guilty for not wanting to workout to help calm your anxiety is another hole I’ve gone down many times.
The 5-4-3-2-1 coping method is something I can ALWAYS do. Here’s how it works.
↠ 5 things you can see
↠ 4 things you can touch
↠ 3 things you can hear
↠ 2 things you can smell
↠ 1 think you can taste
By using our senses we are able to escape our mind/ego for just a few minutes. This exercise usually brings me a sense of calm, control and even happiness. I also might use the breathing exercise before or after this depending on how I feel.
I know anxiety can hit us at any time of day and it can be completely debilitating and overwhelming. I hope next time you notice anxiety creep in you can remember one or more of these tactics and use them to help work through the feelings.
Do you have a different coping method for anxiety? I encourage you to share below, this is a safe space.