If you read the last blog and realize that you may, gulp, have anxiety, don’t freak out just yet! As mentioned, anxiety is one of the most common mental health struggles in the United States, and is totally treatable! If you or a loved one has anxiety, I’ve delineated tips to help you experience relief when the anxiety creeps up!
Now, first things first. As you might already know, the first thing we need to do is ground our bodies when we are anxious. What does it mean to become "grounded" as a human? It means connecting the present moment and feeling fully "in" your body. When you are in this state, you have full awareness and have presence of mind so that you can respond to whatever is going on. And why is this important? the more connected to you are to yourself and your surroundings, the more control you have over your thoughts, choices and actions.
The skills below will help you disarm the alarm bells that are sending danger signals (the anxiety) to your brain and body. Once your body is calm, grounded and centered, you will have adequate energy and presence of mind to think about what you need to do in order to address the current issue. And sometimes, the issue dissolves when your anxiety goes down because you see that the problem is a lot more manageable than you had thought. Either way, skills will help you for relief.
Here are 10 skills:
Your body is doing what is it supposed to in response to perceived threat or danger. Even though you body feels like it's out of control, it is not. Know that you are not going "crazy", rather, your anxiety is causing these symptoms. It does take courage and practice to practice skills and learn to manage your anxiety, but knowing that you are not in actual danger will allow you to move past "danger zone" and utilize the skills provided. You can lean into the power you posses and move onward.
Distance yourself from the thoughts you are having. Imagine a sifter sifting you, as a separate being, from the thoughts, feelings or sensations that are connected to the anxiety. They are all forms of communication from your body, but you are not in danger. You are a solid person who exists separate from the symptoms.
Distracting yourself gets you out of the "fire zone" of fear. Some examples
Count to 30 by 3s. ex: 3, 6, 9, 12...
Describe your shoes or outfit in exhaustive, boring detail. Get your mind to fully focus on the nitty gritty details of something totally unrelated to stress.
Play a board game, read a book, work on a puzzle or get out some crayons and scribble.
4. Write and Remove.
Write your worries down on a paper, then turn the paper face down and do something else that you can fully engage in. You'll come back to it in half an hour. For that time, dive into something else completely. Listen to a song and say the lyrics out-loud. Choose music that calms you, be it peaceful, hip hop, rap, country or any music by your favorite artist.
5. Ground with nature
Go outside and find a strong rock, tree or dirt path. Sit on it and bring your awareness to fully experiencing what it's like to be held, supported or surrounded by something strong and connected to the earth.
6. Deep breaths.
Place one hand over the area of your heart and one hand over the area of your belly and take a few deep breaths. Feel the warmth of your hands connecting with your body, flowing from your head down to your toes.
Sprinkle water on your hands. Take a shower. Feel the sensations of the cold or warm sensations as the water washes over your fingers, toes or shoulders. Changing your body temperature refreshens your focus and shifts your body chemistry!
8. Paced Walking.
Go on a walk and slow your pace. Notice how you place each heel down on the ground and then your toes. Imagine that your feet are connected to the ground like roots that are firmly connected to earth. Feel the gravity keeping you steady. If you still feel floaty, try stepping down with more strength or even stomping.
According to research, those who develop a belief system or find a sense of meaning beyond their pain, often experience a greater sense of relief when dealing with stress or anxiety. The reason for this is that when you believe that there is something greater than you, you may allow yourself permission to let go and trust in something else to hold the struggle for and with you. So, if you do have a god or higher power, connect to that spiritual guidance for support.
And even if you don't believe in a higher power, you can put a prayer out to universe to provide you the qualities you are needing or to offer you grace in your struggle. You can also ask supportive individuals or loved ones in your life to pray for you. Prayers can ask for healing, guidance, clarity, persistence, patience, joy or something else that fits your current situation.
If physical touch is soothing to you, get a loved one to hug you with a warm embrace. The sensation of being supported and held can be very soothing and containing to you when your anxiety is going haywire. You can also do this with a pet, bringing your pet close and hugging it gently or petting it. Feel the soothing sensation as you pet its fur, and feel the softness to the touch on your hands. You can also do this with a stuffed, fuzzy animal.
Want to know something? You don't need to wait to feel anxious to try one of these! If you're interested in adding mindfulness, calmness and a sense of ease to your life, try one of these exercises. See what it's like for you.
The more times we practice something, the better we get at it. And if you want to prevent your anxiety from getting too intense, using skills in daily interactions will help you better manage the next time a stressor or anxious thought pops up. Let's wave goodbye to your anxiety, and invite vibrance, positivity and strengthened energy!
If you've been struggling with anxiety and are needing more than self-help skills in Long Island, Nassau County or the Five Towns, feel free to reach out so we can help you begin experiencing relief today!