Anxiety is our body and mind’s natural response to stress. The stress may be a concern over something minor such as being late for an appointment or something more serious such as worry over loss of a job or relationship. Sometimes we can feel generally anxious without any concrete reason. People who have always been “worriers” can move through life with a persistent sense that something may go wrong and if it does, they will not handle it well.
Whether your anxiety is for a specific reason or just seems to be a general state that underlies your general experience in life, there are several things you can do to bring it under control. The techniques listed below are will help you find relief from the physical and mental effects of anxiety.
Practice deep breathing
Taking long slow deep breaths in and then slowly releasing the breath out has the immediate effect of calming your nervous system. Think of this act as a way of manually shifting your arousal system from a stressed to a calm state. This practice can be used both as a method to calm yourself after you’ve already become anxious and as a preventative measure. If you set aside time to sit quietly and practice 11 minutes of slow deep breathing before you leave the house for work or get started on your day, you will likely notice yourself feeling calmer overall.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is an effective technique that will help you control your body’s response to anxiety. On a regular basis, such as every morning or evening, take some time to lie down in a comfortable place and progressively focus on every area of the body, first squeezing the muscle for 15 seconds and then relaxing it. To follow detailed instructions of progressive muscle relaxation click here.
Focus on the moment
Anxiety is worry over what might happen. Our worry is over the future, not the present. Making an effort to stop and pay attention to your immediate environment, the room you are in, how your body feels … is a technique designed to pull your mind away from thinking about the future to focusing on the present moment. This practice is effective in reducing anxiety.
Do something physical
If you move your body, either by pulling out your yoga matt and doing some postures and stretches in your home or go outside for a brisk walk or (even better) a run, this can help take your mind away from worrying. Regular physical activity such as working out in the gym, developing a yoga practice or running helps both your anxiety both directly and indirectly. First, the activity itself may distract you from your worry. Second, over time, physical activity strengthens the nervous system. Studies show that physical exercise helps the brain cope better with stress and anxiety.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an effective therapeutic approach for managing anxiety and depression. CBT is a process of examining and questioning your thoughts for validity and objectivity. Through the process of therapy, you will learn to reconstruct negative thinking patterns into a more realistic and empowered way of thinking.
Jaime Williamson provides therapy in Schaumburg, IL specializing in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Jaime works with individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and relationship issues. If you would like to learn more, you are welcome to call and book an appointment or fill out my contact form and click Send.