Anxiety is a normal human experience. But we all feel it differently, and at times it can seem overwhelming. Although there is no tried-and-true cure for anxiety, there are some things that can help. The next time you find yourself dealing with anxious feelings, try some of these techniques and see if you experience a little bit of relief.
It sounds unbelievably simple, and you may say to yourself, “I do that all the time. How could that possibly help?” But the fact is, very few of us breathe in ways that allow our bodies to take in all the benefits air has to offer. By breathing properly, you can actually calm yourself down and see the world and your challenges in a new way. There are many ways to engage in conscious, calming breathing — here’s one of them:
- You can do this standing in a neutral position with feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides, while sitting or even when lying down.
- We carry a lot of tension in our bodies, so the first step in engaging in proper breathing is to let everything go. Let your belly go, relax your shoulders, loosen your neck and let your entire body soften.
- For four slow counts, breathe in deeply through your nose. Don’t let the air stop at the very top of your lungs; let it go all the way into your lungs. You should feel your belly, back and chest expand to accommodate the air.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for four counts.
- Repeat this until you start to feel a sense of calm wash over you.
- When you are comfortable, experiment with lengthening the counts to six or eight or even 12. Simply listen to your body, and proceed accordingly.
Talk to someone
Problems feel even more insurmountable and unmanageable when we don’t talk about them. We start to feel scared, frustrated, worried or sad, and all these feelings allow anxiety to brew. You may think that opening up to a friend or a loved one makes you a burden to them, but it doesn’t. We are all human, and we all have worries we need to get out in the open and discuss freely. You may find you have more in common with those around you than you think. So quit sitting in that pool of anxiety, and let someone know how you’re feeling. Even if you talk about it for only a moment, getting it out there may cause you to feel immediately lighter.
There is some truth to the statement “fake it till you make it.” When we say this, however, we don’t at all mean you should suffer in silence. As discussed above, talking about anxiety is something we encourage. But there may be times when you find yourself alone, and the thoughts going through your head can feel deafening. Sometimes just taking a minute to smile or think of a funny joke or something cute you saw that morning can have immediate positive effects. Even if for just a moment, you may find the tension and anxiety you feel begin to lift.
It can be hard at times to find the strength to pull yourself out of the anxiety you are experiencing, but these simple techniques may be just what you need. If you find your anxiety continues to persist, check out the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada for more advice and treatment ideas.