Managing anxiety can be a long term goal that requires patience and lots of time spent working with a therapist. However, there are some immediate changes you can make and strategies to try that can help provide some quick relief for anxiety as it occurs. Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows how much it can negatively affect their life so short term solutions can prove useful in moments of distress.
Anxiety is something that can strike at any moment so having a set of tools available to you can allow you to minimize the immediate impact of anxious thoughts and feelings. Quick strategies like breathing techniques, talking through your feelings, relaxation tools and mindful awareness can work to relieve anxiety. Understanding these techniques and how to use them can help you manage symptoms as you continue your long term care in treating your anxiety.
Part of the therapy process, especially with cognitive behavioral therapy, is to learn how to change anxious thinking. Certain strategies can help you change the path of your thoughts from anxiety to a more calm state of mind. Learning these tools can divert your anxious thoughts and prevent them from escalating.
Relaxation Tools and Techniques
One of the most immediate solutions for anxiety is to find ways to feel more relaxed and relieve stress. Anxiety is something that can be felt not only in your mind and emotions but also in the tension throughout your body. Techniques like deep breathing and body scans can often relax the body which ultimately will also calm many anxious thoughts.
An anxious person may not be aware that they have very shallow and quick breathing which contributes to their physical and mental tension. In order to become more relaxed you can focus your attention on your breath and make sure to take deep belly breaths that are slow and natural. Breathing strategies can include counting each breath or breathing in for 4 counts and out for 8.
Another useful relaxation method that can help anxiety and stress is doing what is known as a “body scan”. This involves closing your eyes and focus on individual parts of the entire body to relax them starting with your feet and ending with your face and top of the head. By the end of a body scan your whole body will be completely relaxed because you have spent the time to relax each part.
Relieving Stress with Connection and Activity
When we experience anxiety sometimes the easiest way to get our mind off of those feelings is simply to talk to a friend. Calling someone you trust and either telling them how you feel or talking with them as a distraction can provide quick stress relief. Talking to someone you love and who cares about you can be a reminder that anxious thoughts are all in your mind and friends can always be there to keep you grounded.
Sometimes laughter can also be the best medicine for anxiety either by laughing and joking with a friend or simply watching a funny movie or video. Laughter calms the body and can help you gain some distance from your anxious thoughts which might not seem so serious after seeing something funny. Humor can have enormous benefits for our mental health and well-being and maintaining a good sense of humor can help people cope more effectively with dark feelings.
Other activities such as exercise can provide a good outlet for stress as well as create immediate health benefits. Exercising can quickly burn away stress hormones that contribute to anxiety while also reducing tension in the muscles, releasing endorphins which improve the mood and forcing healthier deep breathing for anxiety relief. There are many reasons that exercise is beneficial but it can have a very positive impact for people with anxiety.
Changing Anxious Thinking
One of the most important strategies that anxious people can learn to use is how to change their negative thinking. Anxious thoughts can spiral out of control but being able to divert them before they become a problem can be critical. Asking yourself questions about your anxious thoughts and looking at them from a different perspective can help change your mind and minimize the power of negative beliefs.
Often anxious thoughts are exaggerated and unrealistic beliefs that are not based on real evidence. You can start by asking yourself if there is really a reason or any evidence to belief that something is wrong or will go wrong? Recognizing that your anxious thoughts are simply a symptom of your anxiety and they are not necessarily true can help you rethink your fears and allow them to dissolve.
If you suffer from anxiety it can also be helpful to talk to a therapist where you can get feedback and practical advice about how to better manage your symptoms.