There are many life situations that can trigger anxiety: from the upsetting news about politics, imminent war or economic recessions, to the demands we face as parents, professionals, spouses, etc.
To avoid anxiety to escalate and become a regular condition, such as panic or obsessive-compulsive disorders, we can learn a few tricks to help us manage the emotional rush, palpitations, transpiration, dizziness or other common symptoms that appear when the stress of our life starts to be too much to bare.
- Remember: This should pass.
No one managing his or her own life is devoid of stress. Too much of it can lead to excessive worry, nervousness, dread, upset stomach, or difficulty breathing. The first step to overcoming such negative feelings is to recognize that you are experiencing a very common emotional state most commonly identified as anxiety. Although it's uncomfortable, the negative feelings WILL PASS. Fighting the anxiety can make it stronger. Paradoxically, accepting that you are feeling anxious helps activate the body's natural relaxation response.
- Talk calmly to yourself.
To increase emotional comfort, it’s imperative to practice reassuring and realistic self-talk. We can be very good talking calmly to a little child or to someone we care about. With those examples in mind, repeat in your head phrases such as:
- This feeling will pass
- I will get through this
- I am in control
- This situation should pass
- I know how to deal with my nervousness
- I can feel my heart rate slowing down
- Connect with diaphragmatic breathing.
One of the most effective ways to activate the relaxation response is by decreasing the heart rate. Since we can't voluntarily alter our pulse, more tangible measures are needed. Luckily, a rapid heart rate can be lowered with deep breathing techniques. The most commonly utilized strategy is breathing by contracting the diaphragm, a horizontal muscle in the chest located just above the stomach cavity.
By extending your abdomen while inhaling, the diaphragm pulls your lungs up to their maximum capacity. I’m going to walk you to one breath cycle to demonstrate what I’m referring to.
Taking are through your nose, expand your abdomen as much as you can, filling your lungs. Retain the air a couple of seconds. Release the air through your nose slowly, controlling your abdominal muscles. Repeat as much as needed, until you feel calmer.
You can use this type of breathing at any time, especially when you start to notice that anxiety strikes. In combination with soothing self-talk and muscle relaxation, you can regain your normal or calm state.
- Practice muscle relaxation.
Stress causes our muscles to tighten and become tense. To increase a relaxed state and physical comfort, tighten and release muscles beginning with the largest muscle group. You can watch many different videos in YouTube to learn progressive muscle relaxation exercises. I will post my own in JeasalvaTV shortly!
- Become an observer of your situation.
When we assume the position of outsider, an external observer of the situation you are facing, you can regain the sense of control about the situation or even get a laugh from it.
Picture this in your mind: imagine you are in a theater and there is a dancer on stage, moving and singing a tune about your situation, making fun of it, while you observe the show from your comfortable seat, eating popcorn!
Using these 5 ideas by themselves or in combination, you can reduce stress and overcome anxiety in a short term.