24 Apr How to instantly relieve anxiety now
Nearly everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives. Whether it is just short term, also known as ‘stress’ or more long term known as ‘Generalised Anxiety Disorder’ the feelings are unpleasant either way. I have suffered from my fair share of anxiety over the years and sometimes it comes on more strongly and lingers a little longer than other times. Here are some tips and tricks that I like to do when I am having strong feelings of anxiety. I hope that you can find one or maybe two of these helpful the next time you are feeling anxious.
1. The 5-4-3-2-1 technique
I saw this one on a random Facebook post and didn’t think anymore of it until I started having strong feelings of worry and anxiety. It popped into my head, I tried it and loved it! The idea is when you have a sudden feeling of panic, worry or anxiety:
- Notice FIVE things you can see around you.
- Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch.
- Notice THREE things you can hear.
- Acknowledge TWO things you can smell.
- Notice ONE thing you can taste.
Do this everytime a wave of anxiety washes over you to help centre you and bring you back in to the present moment. Remember, where you are right now and realise you are not in immediate danger, you are either lingering in the past or worrying about the future, neither of which you can change.
2. Count your breath
In times of anxiety where you cannot think of anything else but whatever it is that is causing you anxiety, you probably do not realise that your breathing rate has increased which in turn increases your heart rate which in turn causes your adrenaline to begin to rise which in turn sends signals to parts of your brain that you are in danger so need to panic – a never ending cycle! Thought – feeling – action
If you can stop and inhale for the count of 5 or 6 and exhale for the count of 5 or 6, you begin to slow your breathing down which can instantly send signals to your brain that you are okay.
When you are faced with a stressful situation, you body takes it in and then accesses if you can cope with it or not. If your brain says it cannot cope (no matter how small the siutation is), it will begin the cycle of anxiety. If you can catch your breath the moment a stressful situation arises you can tell your brain you are okay and you can handle the siutation which will save a lot of time spent on anxiety in the near future.
When I am feeling anxious or worried, I really try to take care of myself using small calming techniques, like little hugs for my soul. One example I use is to put on some calming music in situations where I feel anxious. It could be on the way to work, in your office or during a relaxing bath. Spotify is great to find playlists full of relaxing music. One of my favourite playlists to relax me is ‘Music for Concentration’.
4. Unpack your anxiety
If you are having regular anxiety attacks then it might be worth trying to figure out what is causing the anxiety and try to solve it rather than just managing it or masking it. No one wants to feel anxiety, so if you can find out the root cause and find a way to either solve the problem or work through it, it can help you in the long term.
One great way to ‘unpack’ your anxiety is to create a stress mindmap. By doing this for several stressful situations you may be able to pick up on triggers that cause anxiety or reoccuring thoughts or patterns in behaviour that arise after a stressful event has happened. By recognising these things you can begin to unpick your anxiety slowly by sorting out each small part at a time. A bit like unpacking a suitcase one item at a time.
You can download this as a PDF here – Stress Mindmap to print and remind you how to complete the mindmap when you face a stressful situation.
I would really recommend trying out each strategy a few times to see if it makes a difference to your anxiety. Remember, there is no magic wand that is suddenly going to snap away your anxiety, it will take time and practise using a method like the ones above.
Let me know if you try and or have any of your own tips and tricks to managing your anxiety.