5 Coping Skills for Anxiety in Long Island
Counseling for Anxiety in Long Island: Five Towns, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, Hewlett, Valley Stream, Lawrence.
Did you know that…
your coping skills impact your anxiety levels?
As we develop throughout life we pick up on coping skills from those around us. Mom takes three deep breaths when she’s overwhelmed, dad take a break and goes for a drive, and grandpa says “things usually work out for the best”.
Why are coping skills + coping thoughts important?
Because life isn’t static; there’s often changes and new information we need to process + digest on a daily bases. The wider your “emotional shoulders” the better you’ll move through life, find more joy and add more meaning.
The better we manage stressors, the more enjoyable life is.
Coping skills are comparable to “protection” and “ammunition” to daily stressors and provide cushioning and support for those extra vulnerable moments.
A robust set of coping skills helps strengthen a sense of confidence, a feeling of stability and boosts emotional endurance.
5 Behavioral Coping Skills
1) Minus 25% Intensity
Engage in whatever activity or task you’re doing by tuning down the volume by 25%. By simply slowing down and savoring the experience you’ll reduce rushing which slow the blood flow and naturally slows the pace of your thinking. Doing this invites a more mindful way of being + living.
2) Massage to Relax
Gently rub one or two fingers over your lips to stimulate the parasympathetic fibers in your lips. Doing this will promote calm as this activity activates the parasympathetic nervous system (which is what helps relax the body). You can also gently massage the palms of your hands releases oxytocin which calms the body.
3) Tighten + Release
Most of us tense up when we’re feeling anxious. You might even hold your breath or clench your first without realizing. Try a simple Progressive muscle relaxation technique: 1. Focus on + tense one specific muscle group (arms + hands, neck + shoulders, stomach) and hold for five second. 2. Take a deep breath + release the muscle group and notice how you feel. You can try this by tensing then releasing the muscle groups from head-to-toe, releasing tension in the body where anxiety is being held.
4) Roll Shoulders
Slow down, and notice how your head is positioned on your neck. Many of us carry tension on our upper backs and necks. Ever so slowly, start rolling your head from the right side to the left. As you roll, notice the items in the room, the colors you’re seeing, the smells around you and any sensations you notice. A simple slowing down as you s-l-o-w-l-y look around the room can help ground you and orient your mind and body to the here and now and take you out of your head.
5) Plan for Future
Sometimes anxiety is past-related. Meaning, maybe you did make a mistake and you’re worried it’ll happen again. First of all, forgive yourself. You’re human. (Need help with forgiving self? Read here) Now, If that is the case, sit down and jot down an action plan of what you would need to avoid a similar situation. Do you need more awareness, self assurance, rest, support or more information before acting on impulse. Write a few bullet points and then let it go. Action plans can be reassuring if you’re stuck in a loop of regret and worry. Do this and let the pressure go.
5 Skills - Coping Thoughts:
1) Pause. Take a deep breath. You can do this.
Anxiety can pull you into a dizzying spin. The first thing to do is to pause. Stop. Breath. Slow down and breath, as that will send necessary oxygen to your brain, which calms the brain + body. Offer words of kindness to yourself: something simple such as “you can do this”, “I am doing my best”, or “tough people last, tough times don’t”.
2) This is a normal body reaction. It does feel bad AND it will pass.
Normalize your body’s reaction to a stressful thought, interaction or experience. Validate the emotion by saying to yourself our out- loud (“I feel worried, angry, confused, frustrated..) By validating the experience the body often calms down and can let some of the intensity go.
3) Even though I’m feeling bad, I can choose to make the healthier choice.
Remember that you have capacities even when you are feeling overwhelmed or upset. Many people slide into self-sabotaging behaviors when feeling upset, often bringing them to an even worse place. Remember that you can choose a better choice which will often make you feel better in the moment, and even if not, will be a gift to your future self. Pause before you act. Choose from a healthy part of self. You’ll thank yourself later.
4) I will learn from this experience, even if it seems hard to understand right now
Some experiences are super tough to get through, and shifting the focus can help you get through with more motivation. Some of the most confusing or difficult situations can teach you something you never knew about yourself, others or values you want to strengthen (such as boundaries) Hold onto the fact that you will learn something, no matter how big or small, from this exact situation you are facing.
5) I can be anxious/angry/sad and still deal with this
Remind yourself that your ability to deal has nothing to do with the emotions. Anxiety has a way of tricking the mind to feeling like it cannot deal; that is simply false. You can deal but you’ll need to navigate the choppy waters of the “feels” facing you. Keep steering forward + remind yourself that you have capacities beneath the outer layers of feelings.
Coping skills are meant to diminish current anxiety + avoid adding extra stress in the present moment.
As you practice new skills, they become ingrained in your mind + body. Over time you’ll notice yourself naturally choosing better forms of dealing with life which lessens your overall levels of anxiety.
Prioritizing your coping is a solid form of self care.
Coping skills are great for dealing with the here and now and reducing daily stressors. However, when coping skills don’t cut it, one on one counseling can provide relief. In session with clients we utilize cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, somatic psychotherapy and parts work in helping you experience long term relief. If you live in Long Island and you’re ready to dive in and do the work to improved coping + richer living, reach out.Call or email today for your free consult and to schedule your first session at my Cedarhurst office.