Anxiety. It’s such a normal and a dreaded emotion. And, I mean, dreaaaad-ed. We’ll go to all kinds of lengths to avoid, push down, squash and completely ignore anxiety. Why? Probably because it feels pretty awful. Personally, I hate the stomach-churning, chest-tightening, breath-shortening, shaky and somewhat nauseous sensations that accompany anxiety for me. Anxiety can also include sweatiness, dry mouth, racing heart, inability to think clearly or, basically, to make any kind of rational decision. No wonder we hate it!
Yet, my therapist side knows that anxiety serves a purpose. Anxiety can make us aware of danger so that we protect ourselves. It can increase our alertness so we’re focused and ready-to-go for our upcoming presentation. It can even tell us when we need to prepare more for a meeting or that we need to be careful with our words as we have a difficult conversation with a loved one.
While none of these reasons mean that we have to like feeling anxious, they do mean that anxiety is not going away. It’s a part of the human experience, for better or worse.
So, here are 3 ways to relieve anxiety right here, right now for whatever is coming next that stirred up all that anxiety to begin with:
- Take gentle, deep breaths. This is simple, but there’s a good reason for it. When our bodies are stressed and anxious, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, causing all those aforementioned icky sensations. Deep breathing actually causes the parasympathetic nervous system to kick, which tells our body to calm down and return to balance.Take slow breaths filling your lungs with air. Notice how your belly inflates like a balloon as you inhale and deflates as you exhale. Repeat 10 times.
- Repeat a positive, calming mantra. You can even pair the mantra with your deep breaths. “I can do this.” “I’m capable.” “I’ve handled this before." “I’m prepared. I got this.” “I’ll be ok.” “It’s just anxiety.” “I can feel anxious and do this anyway.”
- Imagine the situation going well. Our brains often don’t know the difference between whether a situation is happening in real time or whether it’s just something we’re thinking about. Visualize yourself being confident and calm and doing what you need to do. This gives your brain a way to practice with the situation occurring just as you want it to.
Remember, anxiety is a normal part of life, and everyone feels it sometimes. However, if you find that anxiety is getting in the way of you living your best life, please don’t keep struggling.
We don’t like anxiety either, but we’d love to help you take your life back from it. Reach out; we’re here to help.