One of the unfortunate parts of having an anxiety disorder is that, sometimes, there is no stopping your bad anxiety before it hits. Everyone has that day: You’ve been building it up inside of you for weeks, or a panic attack hits you out of nowhere. Suddenly, you’re stressed, uncomfortable, and unable to get anything done. There are medications for this, yes. But most of those will leave you drowsy or with a “drugged” feel. Not to mention the fact that they can be expensive, as well as being potentially dangerous and addictive. But what is someone who suffers with anxiety supposed to do? You can’t just go through life a nervous wreck, with nothing done about it. Are there any simple, non-chemical ways to lower your anxiety quickly and efficiently?
The answer is, happily, yes! There are quite a few ways that you can calm yourself on the fly, without the need of any hard to move equipment or expensive pills. Simple relaxation techniques can help with your anxiety, allowing you to go along with your day after a bad bout of stress. These relaxation techniques are perfectly suited for someone who is out and about when their stress hits. Most of what is written below can be done in an office, or in a friend’s living room, or wherever else you might happen to be. The flexibility allows you to keep control of your stress in your day to day life.
The exercises listed below are perfect for someone who is a novice of relaxation techniques. These are old standbys, used by therapists for decades to help keep their patients calm. They can help you much the same way. No hard training, no expensive equipment, there is usually not even a need for much practice! Just follow the instructions below until you are calm again.
When trying to relax, make sure to check your:
Calmness starts with controlling your breathing. One of the worst things that people do when stressed is they start to hyperventilate, where they breathe much too quickly. It’s easy to do, when you’re in the midst of a panic attack or are just having a very stressful day. But there are ways to be mindful of your breathing so that you can overcome your anxiety.
Begin by sitting up straight. Posture is important here, it will allow easier respiration. Sitting cross-legged is usually a good position, but any way you can comfortably sit with your shoulders back and spine straight is fine. Put one hand on your stomach, and another on your chest. Take a deep, slow breath through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise dramatically, but the hand on your chest should remain nearly motionless. If it is the opposite, you’re not breathing deep enough. Then, slowly exhale out of your mouth, feeling the hand on your stomach lowering while the hand on your chest remains. Then repeat, until you are calm again.
Should you begin to hyperventilate, it can be difficult to stop, not to mention scary. The first thing to remember is this: Don’t panic! That will only make it even worse. The best way is the old trope of breathing into a paper bag. Once again, you’ll want to focus on your breathing so that you can calm it. Repeat as necessary.
Next, you’ll want to examine your body. Your body reacts to stress in certain ways that can be not only unpleasant, but uncomfortable, or even painful. Keeping a good read on yourself can make this task a much easier thing to do. Take note of your pulse; if it’s racing, then try deep breathing exercises (mentioned above). Are you sweating? Clammy? If your skin is dry, dehydration may be a factor.
There are a few ways to keep comfortable during a period of high anxiety. Since one key feeling associated with stress is claustrophobia, you’ll want to avoid any tight-fitting or uncomfortable clothes. When you begin to feel horribly stressed, change your wardrobe along with it at all possible. Change into loose-fitting yoga pants, or maybe shorts. T-shirts and tank tops should take precedence over turtlenecks and button-downs. If you don’t happen to be able to change your clothes (you’re at work, and can’t leave to pick anything up; you’re at a friend’s Christmas party), then head to the bathroom and make a few minor adjustments until you can calm down: Untuck shirts; unfasten belts; ladies, unclasp your bra; kick of your shoes. Whatever clothes are making you uncomfortable, alter them until you are calm again.
The last, but arguably most important thing to check, is your brain. Or, more accurately, your state of mind. Though it can be hard to analyze yourself during a state of extreme stress, knowing how your mind is functioning can help keep you calm, and let you know of what techniques you may need to try to keep everything in check.
Are you angry, or raging inside of your head? Are you frightened or nervous? Has frustration brought you to your anxiety’s point of no return? Or are you having a chemically-off-balance day? Learning what is causing your stress to manifest itself is key to overcoming it.
A good way to calm an anxious mind is through mindful visualization. To begin, simply sit somewhere comfortable and quiet, preferably with some soft white noise. Close your eyes, breathe deeply through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Begin to visualize a scene that is comforting and calming to you. There really are no direct instructions to this, because whatever you happen to find relaxing is what is going to work here. Being at the beach is a common choice, as is being in a boat on a lake. Now, take note of what’s around you. Allow yourself to explore this area carefully, making notes of every little detail. This should help calm you, as well as distract you from what was upsetting you to begin with.