7 Easy Techniques to Cope with Anxiety
There are a lot of different tools that you can use to cope with anxiety. These are some of my favorites. Try them all to find which are the most effective for you!
1. Deep breathing: People have a lot of different names for this. Some people call it square breathing, some call it 4x4 breathing, I even have one client who calls it sniper breathing. The name doesn’t matter, how you do it does – take a deep, slow breath in through your nose until you can’t breathe in anymore, hold it briefly, and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat as many times as necessary.
2. Finger Counting: This is a simple technique that is so subtle you can do it in any situation and no one even notice. Cup your hand and, using your thumb, count the tips of your fingers, back and forth, and repeat. One, two, three, four, three, two, one.
3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): Starting at your toes, clench small groups of muscles as tightly as you can while you breathe slowly in through your nose. Hold it tightly for a moment and then slowly release the muscle, exhaling through your mouth. Work your way up throughout your entire body, focusing on one small group of muscles at a time.
4. Five Senses: Look around your immediate surroundings and find something you can see. Focus on the details, the colors, the shapes. Reach out with your hands and find something you can touch. Notice the textures, the way it feels in your hands. Bring your attention to what you can hear, even if it is as simple as the sound of your air conditioner or a fan. Notice what you can smell. Notice if you can taste anything. Start back with what you can see and go through it again.
5. Thought Stopping: Keep a rubber band or a hair tie on your wrist. When your thoughts start to race, snap the band so that you feel a slight pinging sensation. Use this sensation to distract and bring you back to the present.
6. Guided Meditation: Find a private, distraction-free space and pull up YouTube on your smart phone or tablet. Type “guided meditation” and find a video to listen to. Start with shorter videos at first, preferably no more than 5 minutes.
7. Fidget Toys: Keep something in your pocket that you can manipulate with your fingers. A small container of play dough, a stone, a rabbit’s foot are all examples of useful fidget toys. Find the one that soothes you.
Which ones work best for you? Do you have other tools you use? I'd love to hear from you!