Anxiety is a very common thing that affects us all so differently. One of my friends picked/bite at her nails until her stick on nails popped off while my cousin is currently giving herself an ulcer from the stress and anxiety. In my senior year of high school, I hit a point where I was having 5 30-minute panic attacks a day. My body genuinely could no longer function with the anxiety. Over the years, I have been taught so many different ways to handle anxiety so I thought I would share:)
Lavender Essential oil
Lavender is a scent that is ultimately soothing. The scent triggers some sort of response in your brain that signals you to relax. With essential oils you can use them in a diffuser or apply directly to your skin (depending on the oil). I always applied it directly under my nose. This way it was the strongest and I was constantly able to smell the lavender. You can also add a few drops to your lotion when you go to apply it.
Count backwards from 100
I use this strategy to calm my mind no matter the situation, if i’m anxious or just trying to relax before bed. Counting up doesn’t work because you’ve been able to do that since kindergarten and you do it by memory. Counting backwards requires your brain to constantly think of what number comes next, well I guess technically it would be what number comes before. By doing this, it takes your focus off of whatever you’re having anxiety about or just thinking about your anxiety in general. The key to break the feeling of anxiety is to break the attention it’s given. Usually, I notice that I start to calm down around the 20’s and then go through it once more. If I’m trying to sleep I’m usually calm down enough to fall asleep and if I’m just anxious around half way through the 2nd round of counting down I’m good to refocus on life.
So I’ve seen this one as name 5 objects you see and then work your way down through the senses. But that doesn’t work for me, clearly as I can’t even remember the actual numbers to the senses. What I do is start by focusing on naming objects I can see. So if I’m in my room and having anxiety, I start with things like a lamp, fan, wall, door, dresser, tv and so on. As I run out of large objects I move to smaller, finer details. With this I point out colors of objects and also patterns. So I have a blue knitted blanket with fringe edges. I would start by saying blanket, and then eventually work my way down to saying, Knitted, blue, fringe, string. I name as many things, colors and patterns as I have to until I feel calm.
I’m really trying to get into this. Like really trying. So although I can not personally vouch for this yet, I hear wonderful things. In my previous attempts of meditating, it is supposed to bring you into the present (whereas anxiety keeps you in the future or past). You can think about other things during meditation or let the thoughts go. I was listening to a podcast a few weeks ago and the guest was talking about how when she meditates she imagines a stage. When a thought pops into her head (aka onto the stage) she gives it a moment and then pushes it aside (time to get off stage, you’ve had your time, next act). I thought it was an amazing way to view it. Acknowledge the thought because it popped into your head for a reason, but then let it go as it might not need a ton of attention.
Allow a set time to stress
Now this one only works if you’re having anxiety over a particular situation. I also learned this from a podcast but thought it was great. If you’re anxious over certain situations and it’s so bad where it’s affecting you all day everyday, schedule in a time to worry. Set aside 10 -15 minutes or as long as you need to worry about the situation. Think of all world ending scenarios that anxiety can bring along in that time and when the allotted time is over, you’re done worrying about it. If you start to get anxious about it later in the day, simply think “I have already worried about it today, I have gone through all the possible outcomes, there is no reason to continue to worry. It will change nothing” and do your best to move on. I have personally not tried this yet, as I am having no life instances causing me anxiety at the moment, but it sounded like a logical way to approach something that can make you think very illogically. Might be good to pair it with one of the strategies above at the end of your “worry time” to make sure you’re ready to focus on the day at hand.
There are so many different breathing techniques you can try to ease the feeling of anxiety. I have read that taking 3 deep breaths is supposed to calm your entire system. For me personally, it doesn’t work. Again, when I get anxiety, it can last. The breathing technique I do sometimes find helpful is breathing in for 7, holding for 4 and out for 8. I find this rather complicated simply because if I hold my breath for 4 seconds I breathe it all out rather quickly. I guess that is kind of the point because you have to focus on rewiring your breath.
Anxiety is a complex thing that can be hard to wrap our minds around. Do your best to find a technique to ground you to the present and it will go away. If you have any techniques you’ve used comment them down below so we can all give them a try:)
Other ways to help anxiety:
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