We have all been there… that moment when the heart is racing, palms sweaty, stomach turning, face flushing…all because we have to speak in public. Or order dinner. Or meet with the in-laws. Or take a test. Anxiety, nervousness, freaking out—call it what you will, it can be a nightmare. But rest assured there are solutions to reducing anxiety. Here are my Top 10 Tips for reducing anxiety.
1. Place your face in cold water for 10 seconds: Hold on with me for a second so I can explain. I love the brain, love it! Placing our face in the water activates the mammalian Dive Reflex, a natural response our body as to being in water. This response immediately reduces our heart-rate and blood pressure (Cool!) and we don’t have to think about it! It’s a programmed response!
2. Use your senses: You know, sight, sound, touch, taste…Name 5 things you can SEE around you, then name 5 things you can hear, followed by 5 things you can physically touch (hair, shirt, pants, chair) and notice how they each FEEL different. If you have some candy, gum, or a drink nearby notice how it feels in your mouth. Noticing how each one of your senses is responding takes our brain on a different track to reduce anxiety.
3. Activity: Ride a bike, read a book, do some yoga, work on a project, find a new hobby, go hiking, go for a swim, take a nap, create a new website, give your pet a bath, cook your favorite meal, organize a party….you get the idea J
4. Gratefulness: I once heard that listing out what you are grateful for increases Happiness by 33%. I’ll take what I can get! Make a list of 10 things you are grateful for. My list often starts with “I’m thankful for my house, my kids, my bed, hot water, being near mountains, my friends…” Challenge yourself to come up with 10 new items every day.
5. Contribute: Focus on someone or something other than yourself. Go volunteer, do a good deed, or anything else that will contribute to a cause or a person.
6. I statements: Talk to yourself in a positive way! Tell yourself “I am going to be okay” “I can do this” “I am strong”. Because, you know what, you are a bad-a** and deserve to kick anxiety in the butt! Say nice things to yourself!
7. Imagery: This has to be one of my favorites. Visualize yourself in one of your favorite places. Or if you don’t have one, create one! I once had a client create a place in the clouds with candy everywhere. When you imagine this place take notice of how it feels, the temperature, the smells, the sounds etc. The more detail you use the quicker our brain can relax!
8. Relax: Give yourself a neck and shoulder massage. Use some pressure points. Listen to relaxing music. BREATHE.
9. Do something that makes you happy: What do you do when you feel happy? Are you laughing, joking, cleaning, and talking with friends? Go do those things! This challenges that anxious feeling and tells our body to stop reacting to anxiety.
10. BREATHE: I left this for the end, because…well we therapists say it all the time. And there is a reason! When we are anxious our breathing becomes rapid which doesn’t help. So use your breath; is a tool you have with you at all times. Breathe in for a count of 4 and then breathe out for a count of 4. Do this over a few times and watch the anxiety decrease.
Thank you for reading.