I wanted to write this post to share some things that have worked for myself and for many clients to reduce overall anxiety as well as things you can do ‘in the moment’ when anxiety strikes. When you struggle with anxiety or find yourself in an unexpected stressful or overwhelming situation (think quarantine working from home with kids) it can be helpful to have some tools you can pull out to help you cope and get through the situation. These are my five favorite tools below.
- Grounding Techniques – My very favorite grounding technique involves all five of your senses. You stop what you’re doing or stop those thoughts running through your mind and start naming something in the room you see, you smell, you hear, you touch, and that you can taste. Doing this takes you out of your mind, stops the racing thought, and brings you back in touch with the here and now. Engaging your senses in a great way to help reduce your immediate anxiety.
- Reduce Stimulation – Turn off the TV. Turn off the audiobook in your ears. Turn off the music. We live in such a busy and crazy world we often don’t realize all of the audio and visual stimulation going on around us. This can be quite stressful on our nervous systems and cause anxiety as well as acting out in frustration or anger when we don’t realize what’s happening. I myself have done this recently while my husband was watching TV, I was listening to an audiobook and my toddler was screaming and trying to crawl in my lap. I felt myself getting very very frustrated, but I wasn’t sure why. I turned off the audiobook, asked my husband to turn down the TV, and calmed my toddler. I immediately felt my body relax once the excess stimulation was removed.
- Deep Breathing – Taking time to focus on your breath and taking slow, deliberate breaths can be great for your nervous system which helps reduce your anxiety levels. Hold your hand on your stomach, breath in through your nose for 4 counts, and feel your stomach expand, breathe out for 5 counts slowly through your mouth. Do this 3 times in a row a couple of times per day.
- Meditation – If you are new to meditation, it can be helpful to use a guided meditation through an app like Calm or Headspace. This gives you time to focus on your breathing, closeout outside distractions and stimulation, and learn to notice and let go of your thoughts. There is a reason why meditation has gotten such a hype lately, it works!
- Exercise – Go for a walk. Do some yoga. Get outside. The practice of exercise reduces endorphins which automatically reduce your mood. Doing daily exercise is a great preventative way to reduce overall anxiety levels. It can be a simple exercise like dancing in your living room to your favorite song or going for a walk around the block. Moving your body is the key.
Pick one or two of these and commit to doing them daily for the next two weeks. See how you feel 🙂
You can do this!
As always, if you find that you’re struggling to cope with your thoughts and feelings on your own, counseling can be a great way to help.
I’m here to help you on your journey,
Kylee Nelson, LMFT