Sometimes anxiety can creep up on us and make us feel a loss of control.
Read these 6 expertly crafted tips for how to reduce anxiety, instantly.
1. Take a deep breath
“The first thing to do when you feel anxious is breathe,” said Tom Corboy, MFT, the founder and executive director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, and co-author of the upcoming book The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful anxiety killing technique because it activates the body’s relaxation response. It helps the body go from the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system to the relaxed response of the parasympathetic nervous system, said Marla W. Deibler, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, LLC.
She suggested this practice: “Try slowly inhaling, to the count of 4, filling your stomach first, then your chest, gently holding your breath to a count of 4, and slowly exhaling to a count of 4 and repeat several times.”
2. Accept your anxiety
Acceptance is critical because trying to wrangle or eliminate anxiety typically worsens it. It creates the idea that your anxiety is unbearable.
Accepting your anxiety doesn’t mean resigning yourself to it.
It just means that you would benefit by accepting it, for what it is. The bottom line is that the feeling of anxiety is less than ideal, but it is not unbearable. This mindset helps you to claw back your control.
3. Realize that your brain can and will play tricks on you.
Psychiatrist Kelli Hyland, M.D., has seen first-hand how a person’s brain can make them believe they’re dying of a heart attack when they’re actually having a panic attack.
Our brains are not always correct. Our brains fuelled with anxiety are almost never correct. When your brain plays tricks on you, the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself. Understand you are feeling vulnerable and this vulnerability makes you more open to manipulations from your anxious brain. Be self-aware and be kind.
4. Use a calming visualization.
Hyland suggested practicing the following meditation regularly, which will make it easier to utilise when you’re anxious in the moment.
“Picture yourself on a river bank or outside in a park, field or beach. Watch leaves pass by on the river or clouds pass by in the sky. Assign your emotions, thoughts and sensations to the clouds and leaves, and just watch them float by.”
This is very different from what people typically do. Typically, we categorise our emotions and define them as good or bad, right or wrong, This often amplifies anxiety. Remember, “it is all just information.”
5. Use positive self-talk.
Anxiety can produce a lot of negative chatter. For instance, you might say, “this anxiety feels bad, but I can use strategies to manage it.” Or you might say, i’m only human so I feel anxious but I can beat it. Get your control back from anxiety with positive self talk.