Hey Optimist Minds!
Have you been struggling with your anxiety for a while? Does it diminish your ability to function?
According to large population-based surveys, up to 33.7% of the population are affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. The prevalence of anxiety-related problems has only increased since the pandemic.
But what if we told you that there are ways to relieve your anxiety and feel more centred?
In this video, we’re going to describe five anxiety relief methods to try. Each of these uses a different approach to regulate anxious thoughts and energy. You can use these to calm yourself down and feel more at peace with your circumstances.
However, please note that these techniques may not always be sufficient to treat an anxiety disorder. It is always best to consult a licensed mental health professional in case you have trouble dealing with anxiety.
Now, let’s begin.
A grounding technique is something that you do to distance yourself from your mental space and imbibe in the present moment. These exercises generally involve using sensory information or neutral thoughts and images to manage strong emotional reactions.
In the 3-2-1 method, you need to pay attention to your visual, auditory, and tactile senses.
Name three things that you can see. Then, three things that you can hear. And, finally, three things that you can touch and what do they feel like?
Now take a deep breath and name two new things you can see. Then, name two things you can hear and two things you can touch. What do they feel like?
Take another deep breath.
In the end, repeat the process for one more thing you can see, hear, and touch each.
With the last deep breath, your should be feeling less negative, neutral, or positive.
Progressive muscle relaxation.
When we experience anxiety, our body activates the sympathetic nervous system, or SNS, which prepares us for stress. The nerves in this system relay messages between the brain and internal organs to get us ready for the threat ahead. Breathing becomes faster, bloodflow increases, and muscles become tight, ready for fight or flight.
These changes are what cause the physical sensation of anxiety. It’s possible to relieve this anxiousness by deactivating the SNS. It can be done by relaxing all the muscles in your body.
Progressive muscle relaxation is an exercise that gradually releases tension from your muscles all the way from your head to your toes. By intentionally tightening the body part as much as you can for four seconds, it becomes a lot more relaxed when the tension is let go.
At the end of the sequence, you’re left with loose, and resting muscles that trick the SNS into deactivating. As a result, you feel less anxious and threatened.
Another way to calm yourself down is to listen to an audio clip of a meditation script. In guided meditation, a narrator walks you through the process, telling you where to direct your focus and what to expect from your mind and body.
Research has established that regularly practicing guided meditation reduces feelings of anxiety and stress. It helps a lot if the meditation script encourages mindfulness.
The DARE response.
DARE is an unconventional approach to fighting anxiety given by psychologist and author, Barry Joe McDonagh. What’s different about this technique is that instead of trying to relieve anxiety by resisting it, DARE makes you face your fears.
It is an acronym for the four steps involved in this method.
D stands for defuse, meaning that you must first react to your anxious thoughts with a dismissive attitude. Much like saying, “so what?”
A stands for allow, which means that you must accept and allow yourself to feel the discomfort.
R is for ‘run toward’, which asks you to take advantage of your anxious energy and change your interpretation of the anxiety.
Finally, E is for engage, meaning that you do something that takes up your full attention.
Each of these steps helps you relieve your anxiety by acknowledging it. A more detailed description of this 4-step response can be found in the DARE book or phone app.
Cognitive behavioural therapy.
The last item on our list is probably the most popular treatment approach for anxiety disorders. Cognitive behavioural therapy, better known as CBT, uses worksheets and exercises designed to help you identify unhelpful thought patterns.
Since anxiety is a thought disorder, it makes sense to take a cognitive approach. CBT practices help you recognise cognitive distortions and biases. Once you learn which thoughts are unhelpful, you start practising how to replace them with healthier ones.
CBT is done best done with the assistance of a therapist, but there are also many effective workbooks available online.
Did the methods mentioned here seem doable to you? Do you feel like trying any one of these out the next time you’re battling anxiety? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.
A link for further reading and the studies & references used in the making of this video are mentioned in the description below.
Thanks for visiting optimist minds, take care. Until next time.