How to Reduce Your Anxiety Today
One of the most asked questions I get in my practice is “How can I reduce my anxiety?” Anxiety is often overwhelming for individuals and can impact all aspects of daily life. I’m not talking about the nerves one might feel before a big presentation at work or before having a difficult conversation with a loved one. I’m talking about anxiety so prevalent in a person’s life that it prevents him or her from really going after goals and desires, anxiety that makes it hard to sleep at night or stay asleep, or lose concentration on an important task. If you’ve ever felt the regret of staying awake all night worrying about something the next day, you can empathize with how an anxious individual might feel.
What can be be done about all these feelings of anxiety? For starters, recognition is the first step, as it is with many parts of our lives. Perhaps you know you’ve always been an anxious person, but that hasn’t really stopped you from quitting your nail biting habit. Perhaps fear of writing that perfect cover letter for a job you’d really like to have stopped you from applying and now you’re unhappy.
Anxiety can pop up in all aspects of our life and how we handle that anxiety greatly impacts our success. In some instances, anxiety is caused by our biology and a consultation with your general practitioner may be the best course of action. For most, anxiety can be lessened by using some of the following techniques:
This simple technique involves focusing your awareness on your physical body as it is in space. By thinking “Feet on the ground, back against the chair” or a similar phrase, your attention is focused in the present moment and not running wild. The work involved in using grounding is that you’ll need to be aware of your thoughts as they’re coming and going and have the mental fortitude to recognized, “This isn’t a helpful thought”. This takes time and practice, so while you practice grounding yourself in the present, you might also want to…
The best way mediation was described to me was “Imagining your thoughts as clouds, drifting in and out, neither holding on to or pushing out”. Meditation is not about stopping the thoughts from coming into your mind; it’s about not holding on to the thoughts and running away with them. When we let go of our thoughts we have control, not the other way around. It’s important to remember that while meditating we’re letting our thoughts come and go, we’re also being...
Similar to mediation and grounding, mindfulness allows us to be in the present moment, with our thoughts, without subscribing judgment to the present situation. Instead of thinking, “I hate the cold weather so much!” a thought like, “It’s cold outside right now” removes the value judgement and emotion from the previous thought and allows you to get through the cold weather. “Right now” is a such a powerful term because it really highlights the fleeting nature of our emotions and lets us recognize that fact. Nothing lasts forever, including...
Our breath is a constant in and out of oxygen and carbon dioxide from our lungs and our body. An immediate way to get greater control on feelings of anxiety is through a deep breathing exercise, taking a long breath into your diaphragm for a count of four, holding it for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding for a count of four before your next inhale. Sound impossible? Start small. Perhaps you might only hold for two counts before exhaling. What’s most important is that you breath into the deepest part of your lungs, the diaphragm, and that you slow your breathing down. DO NOT HYPERVENTILATE. This slow controlled breathing will immediately slow down your nervous system, lessening those feelings of jitters you might have after...
Wait, caffeine to reduce anxiety? That’s right; it’s wrong. Our diet plays a huge part in our mental health and overall well being and if you find yourself downing one, two, five cups of coffee before lunch, you might be suffering from caffeine side effects that are impacting your anxiety. A switch to green tea will still provide you with the caffeine punch, without the following jitters.
If you find yourself needing additional support or anxiety reduction tools, I’m just a phone call (954.391.5305 ext. 1) or click away. Give Dr. Kate Campbell, LMFT a call to discuss your options and how to get you the life you desire. Dr. Kate provides anxiety therapy, anxiety treatment, and stress counseling in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for adults and their loved ones.