7 Ways to Ease Anxiety
Since I was really young I’ve been trying different ways to deal with my anxiety, it started out as a yearly occurrence during the first few days of school. Over the years I feel like I’m kind of seasoned veteran of panic attacks, and now a lot of times I can keep them pretty much under control(...or at least able to work through them without scaring the public!)
With the house problems, pneumonia, and a stressful beginning of school – and with comps and thesis writing on the horizon – I felt like I should share 7 ways that I try to deal with anxiety/panic attacks! Like I said in my Bible Verses For Anxiety blog post, I think my anxiety is pretty mild compared to other cases, which is why I’ve been able to go without medication.
1. Dance it Out –
Moving is a great way to get rid of nervous energy! And listening to upbeat music helps get your mind off of whats bothering you. Two birds, one stone!
o Bonus point! Music has a big effect on the body’s ability to handle stress! For more, check out this article from the National Library of Medicine!
2. Get Low -
Sometimes, when I’m at home and having anxiety, laying on the ground helps. I think a lot of times people run into problems when they don’t let themselves recognize that the panic attack is happening, but when I can recognize the signs, take some deep breathes and let it happen, it works itself out. It’s also important to tell yourself that while you are really anxious in that moment, that it wont last forever. Sometimes(in public) this technique has to be modified to sitting still on a bench, in my car, or in a bathroom stall.
3. Calm Your Senses -
Think of what you can feel. What does the ground feel like? Are you sitting on a soft chair or a hard surface? What fabric are your clothes? Concentrate on breathing while you notice different textures. During an anxiety attack, it can be easy to fall into sensory overload, and once that happens it can lead to even more anxiety. Taking a moment to feel textures around you, feel air on your face, and focusing on breathing all helps to “ground” you. Taking a few minutes to refocus my thoughts, and calming that “flight or fight” reaction is usually really helpful for me when I feel like I’m spinning out of control – yoga is a really great option for this!
o Clenching muscles in ascending order, starting in your toes, then to feet, legs, stomach, shoulders, arms, hands, arms, then rolling your neck can take the focus off of your anxiety, and allow your breathing and heart rate to slow down.
o Holding an ice cube is another way to focus your sensory responses. It gives your brain something to focus on other than freaking out.
I like to try to narrow down the influences that are causing the stress in my life. If I can break down the big awful looking picture into a few different smaller issues, it’s easier to work through them. Right now, I don’t have floors in my kitchen, I can’t plug my oven in to the wall because the cover is off of the outlet, and I can’t walk to my laundry room without shoes or else I’ll get splinters. This is my “house problem.” By recognizing that A) it is going to be a problem that will be resolved at some point, and B) I don’t really have any control over that timeline, I can move that box and ignore it for now. Also, I leave house shoes by the doors to the kitchen and the dining room, that way I don’t get stuck walking barefoot!
5. Hot Tea.
I prefer chamomile or peppermint teas when I’m feeling anxious, but the Calm Clinic has a list that includes a few other Herbal options!
6. Walking around.
I’m a pacer when I’m stressed. I think it helps with my nervous energy. But also, when I wake up at 6 am shaking, sometimes getting up and walking to the kitchen to get water is all I need to work out the jitters. Or reminding myself of a fun thing that I’m going to treat myself to later in the day. ‘
7. 4-7-8 Breathing.
This is my go-to method for night time anxiety, but sometimes when my anxiety sets in while I’m in class or out in public (wherever laying on the ground isn’t an option) I’ll break this out. All it entails is breathing in (through your nose) for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and then exhaling for 8 seconds. Its also recommended to put the tip of your tongue up against the back of your top front teeth, but if exhaling around your tongue causes you more stress, I say skip that step!
8. Bonus Tip!
I read once that people with anxiety are usually really creative, because we get really good at thinking of ALL the things that could possibly(or impossibly) go wrong. EVER. But I think - at least for me – sometimes I get so caught up preparing myself for the worst case scenario, that I neglect to think of all the things that could possibly go RIGHT!
So like I said, these are seven ways that I deal with my anxiety when it becomes a problem! If you or someone you know has it, it’s important to remind yourself that you’re not alone, and what triggers your anxiety isn’t silly, its very real and can be really hard to deal with.
And, of course, everyone handles their anxiety in different ways, so if you'd like to share what helps you, feel free to do so in the comments! We can all help each other! :)