Living with anxiety is incredibly difficult and just accepting this alone is a big step to make. Overcoming anxiety and excessive worrying doesn’t have a quick fix and shouldn’t be underestimated. That said there is so much help and support out there and that is the aim of this article and many others on this website to give you easily digestible and applicable advice from scientific research and personal experience.
But the focus for now is if you are suffering from anxiety to give you an immediate relief by following some of these steps:
Focus on your breathing
Wherever you are try to find a quiet place to go to where you can ideally sit alone and focus on your breathing. This sounds odd but many times I’ve gone to the bathroom to just sit down, close off the eyes and internalise.
- Start by sitting down with the eyes open and take 3 or 4 big breathes; in through the nose and out through the mouth
- Next slowly shut off the eyes and regulate your breathing
- Start to breathe in for 3-4 seconds
- Then breathe out for 6-7 seconds
- If you can increase the second length then great but no problem if not
- Feel the weight of your body at every touch point on the chair, floor and start to feel the body again
Repeat this exercise for as long as you need before regaining control of your mind and body.
If you are struggling to control the physical symptoms of anxiety then get yourself up and get active. If you are in the house at home then pick up the vacuum and start cleaning. If you are at work then say to your colleagues you are going outside to get a coffee and head outside for a 10-15 minute brisk walk. If your time is free then put your running shoes on and go outside for a run.
During periods of anxiety your body can fill with adrenaline and becoming active can help your body excrete this. This is why some people experiencing high levels of anxiety shake.
Break the negative thought patterns
Cognitive behavioural therapy have been proven to be incredibly helpful for long term treatment of anxiety and other mental health issues. One of the exercised it teaches is to break through the negative thought patterns and understand their origin. Start off by:
- Getting a pen and paper and ideally sitting alone or in a quiet space start writing down all your thoughts and feelings
- Write as much or as little this is completely up to you but the main aim is to write down the key worries you have right now
- Once you’ve done this read them back and ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I really believe this statement is true?
- What evidence is there to support that this is true?
- Does anyone else think this about you or believe this will happen?
The point of asking these questions is to take a step back from the thought itself and really question where its come from and its validity. Broadening your perspective on the worry and taking a step back from it. This will hopefully elevate some of the short-term physical symptoms and start to address the long-term psychological issues.
Read next ‘How cycling became my personal therapy‘.