Anne has a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Bachelor's in Language.
Anxiety is Debilitating
Does This Sound Like You?
Do you often get anxious and overwhelmed at the smallest things? Do you often feel like your heart is racing yet you are resting? Do you sometimes have a sense of impending fear for no reason? Lots of people struggle with anxiety on a daily basis. Some of us have short episodes of anxiety that may not last, while others live with the debilitating effects of anxiety throughout their lives. Whether it is a temporary or long-term anxiety, there are several ways that you can ease your anxiety and get yourself back into a more relaxed state. Here are some tips that have personally helped me when I have been having anxiety or an anxiety attack, and I hope these may help you as well.
1. Talk to Someone About It
This is the thing that I neglected most in the past. I would bottle everything up until I let it really freak me out. Instead, now when I feel an anxiety attack coming on, I call or talk to a trusted friend or family member about it. Many times, my friends and family have helped to ease my tensions by telling me that sometimes my worries are irrational or that I might be overreacting about something. They can help me to see the positives of the situation and offer a source of comfort for me when I am feeling this way. They can “talk me down” so that I can start to relax and utilize my other coping strategies. Think about someone in your life that you feel you may be able to call or talk to when you are stressed out, and remember to use them as a tool in your recovery.
2. Take A Deep Breath
This might sound cliche, or stereotypical because most often everywhere you look to about anxiety says breathing exercises can help, but it really is true. I don’t do breathing exercises personally, but I do take a few deep breaths, sit down, and try to clear my mind. I make myself aware of where I am to try and stop some of the intrusive and racing thoughts that might be going through my mind at the moment. Focusing on the present moment is important because it helps to ground you in the reality of the situation so that you can relax and move on. Especially because many people may feel like their heart is racing or that their heart rate is up, breathing and relaxing like this can help to let go of that feeling as well. Find a comfortable chair or lay down so you will feel less tension in your body.
The Here and Now
3. Do Something You Like
Oftentimes when I am really stressed or anxious, I have a little list of different activities I can do that will help distract my mind from the anxiety and also help me focus on something else. For me, I like to color, complete word searches or crosswords, or play a game on my phone or computer. Sometimes, putting on a funny TV show in the background while I am doing one of these activities also really helps me to settle down. Surround yourself with things you enjoy and things that make you happy. Sit down and make a list of these things to prepare yourself the next time you feel an anxiety attack coming on.
4. Fidget Toys or ASMR
I know, I know. Many people have mixed feelings about fidget toys and ASMR videos. Some people find the whole concept distasteful or stupid. But I will tell you, when I started having really bad anxiety attacks in the past and I could not get myself to color or do something else I liked, just lying in bed and watching a video on my phone or playing with a fidget toy was enough to help distract me and put my mind more at ease.
Different types of fidget toys I like to use are Pop-Its, soft squeezy toys or stress balls, or play dough. Being able to use my hands in this way can help relieve tension in the body. You might have a fidget toy in mind that could be useful to your during times of stress.
The second suggestion, ASMR, is not for everyone. Let me repeat, ASMR is not for everyone, and that's perfectly fine! If you are not familiar, ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. Supposedly, certain people might have a certain calming, sedative reaction to audio or visual stimuli, and ASMR videos have been gaining massive popularity online. Everything from “crushing videos”, where people might be crushing something in their hand or with a hydraulic press, “soap cutting”, and even eating videos. Not everyone enjoys the satisfying visuals or sounds, but for some, it can have a calming effect on the brain and body. Many persons with autism and neurodivergence gravitate towards ASMR because it gives them a unique sensation and can be satisfying and calming in a world of distractions. Whatever the case may be, ASMR can be helpful in calming you during an anxiety attack if you find it helpful to you. There are many different types to choose from, and a simple YouTube search will garner many results.
Recognize Your Inner Strength
5. Positive Self-Talk
One last tip that might be helpful to you during times of anxiety or stress is positive self-talk. Sometimes, we just need to hear certain things, and we aren’t able to call or talk to someone else. Sometimes, we just need to hear from ourselves that everything is going to be okay. Think of some positive statements that you think might help you during an anxiety attack. Write them down in a notebook or recite them in your head. Tell yourself that everything is going to be alright, and that you are just under a little stress. If it is specific to a situation, reassure yourself about the situation and circumstances. Sometimes that can be harder when you are facing something very stressful in your life, but the more you can talk to yourself and realize that "this too shall pass", the better off you will be.
I admit that this step definitely has taken me time and many years in therapy to develop, and I am still working on it, but this is such a crucial step. It goes along with the idea that sometimes our anxiety may stem from guilt about something we did, or something we didn’t do; we have a moment of hesitation that puts us in severe panic mode. It is important for you to be comfortable in your skin, where you are, in this very moment. Remember not to be harsh and critical on yourself and try to see the good outcomes of every situation, no matter what it may be. As I stated before, this takes lots of practice, but start out with just a few positive things you can say to yourself in that moment. Consider this question: If a friend called you because they were having an anxiety attack, what would you say to them? Utilize this same advice for yourself, and most importantly, take care of yourself!
There are many different strategies and ways that we can combat anxiety and anxiety attacks. Oftentimes it can take a lot of practice and perhaps help from a professional, such as a therapist. If you are in a pinch and need some quick tips on how to calm down, this list will help you do that, but remember to always consult with a professional, your primary doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist. Perhaps you can strategize with them a good routine for when you are having an anxiety attack. This is often one of the first things that your therapist may recommend to you. Whatever the case may be, I hope these tips have been helpful and that you can use them in the future to help you get through moments of stress and anxiety in your life. Remember, everyone experiences this from time to time, and you are not alone!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Anne Marie Carr