Kate Campbell, PhD, LMFT
5 Tips to Reduce Your Anxiety Today!
Whether you’re worried about tomorrow’s presentation at work, or the possibility of an impending breakup, anxiety can easily sneak up on you. In the heat of an anxiety attack, it can be really tough to channel calming thoughts. Having a toolbox filled with effective anxiety and stress management tools can make a big difference in your ability to calm down and push through challenging situations. Incorporate these 5 tips to reduce your anxiety today and remember to remind yourself, “It’s going to be ok, I can get through this.”
1. Use Deep Breathing: I recently was on a flight with horrible turbulence and deep breathing was a huge resource for me. As the plane was up and down and all around, my anxiety was off the Richter scale. The deep breathing techniques I teach my clients worked wonders for calming me until we landed safely. Phew!
It may sound overly simplistic, but research shows deep breathing will help self-soothe your mind and body. And the coolest part? You can do it anywhere, anytime. Yep, that’s right, 24/7/365. Here’s a deep breathing exercise for you to experiment with:
Find a comfy place to sit or lie down. Concentrate on your breath. Take deep, slow breaths in through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Your mind may be racing a mile a minute, but that’s ok. Whatever experience you have is ok. Let your mind go at whatever pace it wants and focus your attention on your breath. Slowly breathe in and out, in and out. Allow your thoughts to float on by as if they were passing clouds in the sky or leaves floating down a stream. Do this for at least 5-10 minutes, longer if possible, until you start to feel calmer.
2. Practice Mindfulness: Anxiety tends to increase when you’re "future tripping" and focused on the “what ifs”, which completely take you out of the present moment... What if I don’t meet my sales goal this quarter? What if he doesn’t call after our date? What if I can’t get pregnant? What if she’s cheating on me?
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for becoming more self-aware and trusts me, awareness is key! Here’s a little mindfulness exercise for you to experiment with that will help bring you back to the present moment.
Do your best to engage at least three of your senses simultaneously to anchor yourself in the here and now. Here are 2 scenarios for you to try:
Since we live in sunny south Florida (#grateful), let’s use the beach as an example. Imagine that you’re walking on the beach... Feel your toes squishing in the sand, feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, listen to the ocean waves or the seagulls in the distance, and look at the people swimming in the water or waves as they crash onto the shore. Get curious about your surroundings. Take note of each sensation in your mind.
For those of you who don’t have easy access to the beach or a lake. Try fixing yourself a hot cup of tea and then sit down in a cozy chair or if you’re out and about, stop by a coffee shop and ask a barista to whip up your favorite blend. Sit down and inhale the aroma of the coffee. Feel the warmth on your hands while holding your cup, concentrate on the flavor and appreciate those moments of rest and recharge.
3. Focus on What's in Your Control: If you’re focused on people, places, or things that are out of your control or creating potential scenarios in your mind, those worrisome thoughts can consume you. They bring unpleasant physiological symptoms such as a tight chest, shortness of breath, sweaty palms, racing thoughts, trouble concentrating. Ugh!
Remember, what you focus on magnifies. The only thing you can control in life is how you react or respond to any situation. You can’t control people, places, or things, so why focus on that? Take a step back from the situation creating the anxiety (if possible) and then focus on what you can do to help yourself calm down, stay safe, and ask for help when needed.
Horrifyingly enough panic attacks and anxiety spells can come about while you’re driving. Your subconscious kicks in and you begin to worry about the things that are out of your control. If this happens to you, pull the car over and blast cold AC directly onto your face. Slow your breath and try to always keep a bottle of water with you so you can take sips while you’re trying to catch yourself. Turn on calming music or even turn the radio off, just concentrate on slowing your breath.
Get Curious About the Anxiety: People tend to have anticipatory anxiety about the possibility of getting anxiety, which becomes a snowball effect. Even though anxiety can be scary, try to engage your curiosity instead of the automatic freak out. Our bodies are wise and anxiety can come with important messages about something you need to pay attention to.
Are you safe? Are you out of balance and need to take a break? Are you staying true to yourself and your values? Is there a boundary that needs to be set?
When your body is clearly telling you something is off, listen. Start recording when you feel the most anxious and when you feel the least anxious. Notice if you see any patterns about the anxiety. It’s super helpful to seek therapy when you notice anxiety being an ongoing pattern in your life. Therapy can help you become more aware of what’s causing it, where it’s coming from, and what you can do to change your relationship to it so it’s no longer dominating your life.
Be Compassionate: Maybe you’re anxious because of bad habits like procrastinating or avoiding something you don’t want to deal with? Or maybe you’re running on fumes and you’re way overdue for some self-care? Whatever it is, listen to your body and respond with compassion. Give yourself permission to take a break or maybe a long weekend or maybe even a vacation. Schedule a massage or spend a night diffusing essential oils and run a bath. Self-care is not overindulgent. Is it essential to your overall health?
Regardless of what might be causing your anxiety, you’re not alone. There is hope! Anxiety responds well to therapy. If you are feeling more anxious lately and want to learn more effective ways to cope, call Dr. Kate Campbell, LMFT to discuss setting up a session at 954-391-5305. Dr. Kate provides anxiety therapy and anxiety treatment in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for adults and their loved ones.
You will learn tools to self-soothe, reducing your anxiety. Imagine how good it would feel to be more centered, peaceful, and back in charge of your life.