Top 5 tips for relieving anxiety in the moment
Do you know that an estimated 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders across the world? That's around 4% of the global population. Some of us will deal with anxiety on and off as a result of a situation. Some of us will struggle with a specific disorder, but all of us have and will experience anxiety to some degree in our lives.
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.
As humans, it's normal to feel anxious. The truth is, we all will experience it at some point. But sometimes we can be hit with a spike in anxiety suddenly and need to relieve it in the moment.
Here are our top five tips for reducing the feeling of anxiety:
Take a few deep breaths
Our natural response to an anxious situation is increased heart rate, sweaty palms, blushed cheeks, pacing around. But, if you can pause and just focus on your breath, you are redirecting your attention to your body in a calm manner. Being present is difficult for those who struggle with an anxiety disorder as so often their thoughts surround worries and concerns for the future. Breathing exercises can take your brain away from the negative future thinking to a more grounded, rational place, right now.
Label and accept the feeling
This is anxiety; it is just a feeling; it does not mean there is something to be feared. It's an emotional reaction, call it out for what it is, and it could stop you spiralling in your head. It's not pleasant, but it won't last forever, giving the feeling a name can disconnect it from your true self. You can respond to your anxiety as if it was a person hijacking your brain, saying "You have reared your ugly head again, I see you, but I will not engage with you". Accepting your anxiety is also quite crucial, and can be difficult for some. It doesn't mean liking it or engaging fully with it, just observing it for what it is. It can be very powerful to address your anxiety as an imposter of the mind, as opposed to it being a meaningful part of you.
Don't fight the thoughts
Observe them without judgement, as if you dig and dig to analyse them, they will likely only grow. You can question them to a degree, asking yourself "Is this worry realistic?" "Am I thinking rationally?", but too much questioning can again lead you down a rabbit hole. Often, with anxious minds, we cannot accept not knowing the answers to our worries and fears, which fuels the cycle. Allowing the thoughts to flow in and out will take away the need to react as if they are scary. The more you try and block them, or stop them from entering your mind, the more your anxiety will grow.
Assess your situation and environment
Has something or someone triggered how you're feeling? Social situations, topics of conversation, a memory, worry for the future. These can all be a trigger for anxiety. Sometimes we can feel a surge of anxiety for absolutely no reason, but often, if you step away from the situation, you can assess what caused it initially.
Focus on something physical
Redirecting your body and mind onto something physical can decrease the immediate sensations felt by your anxious mind. What would you do if you weren't anxious? Try doing that. Having something to refocus on in times of heightened anxiety can be a great asset to your toolbox when dealing with an overactive brain. An example of this could be washing the dishes, or cooking a meal, something that requires your attention to a physical task.
Read more blogs on Anxiety and CBT therapy here.
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