If you are feeling anxious, you are not alone. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that the lifetime prevalence of anxiety in Americans is 28%, which translates to a whole bunch of anxious folks out there. Here are some tools you can use in your daily life to help battle these sometimes crippling effects of anxiety.
- Breathe. Yes, that’s right breathe, but I mean really pay attention to your breath. Stop whatever you are doing and take five minutes to breathe and feel the breath coming in and out of your lungs. As you are doing this, make sure you pay attention to each breath. the key is to focus solely on the breath coming in and out of the body and NOT everything else in life. Meaning allow yourself to zone out into your breath for a few minutes. This is a calming exercise meant to relax the mind and the body.
- Reach out. Everyone should have such a person, but those who are anxious NEED a person to talk to that you can trust – yes, of course, therapy is helpful, but I’m referring to someone more accessible than your once a week therapist – someone who knows you and what you are going through that won’t mind you unloading on them now and then. Whether this is a partner, spouse, or good friend, this person needs to be someone you can talk to for a few minutes about what you are going through, free of judgement. It sometimes makes sense to let this person know you are not asking for their fix-it hammer, just their listening ear.
- Do something. It almost doesn’t matter what (OK, maybe no roller coasters), but whatever you do, if you can, do something that will take your mind off what you are experiencing. I know what you’re thinking – I don’t want to run away from my problems. I agree, and I wouldn’t ask you to do that. What I would ask you to do is do something ( take a walk, listen to music, meditate) that will temporarily put your focus on something other than your anxiety. This is not cheating, it’s just common sense.