Three tips for coping with anxiety and why they might help.
Panic, fear, nervousness, sleeping problems and heart palpitations are just some of the many dreaded symptoms of anxiety. Most of the time people don’t realise that what they are feeling are the symptoms of anxiety and it knows no bounds in its reach, many of us are susceptible to it. Even many celebrities we see on our TV have suffered with Anxiety and some like lady GAGA and Adele have managed to overcome it.
When people are feeling like their mind is racing, palms are sweating and their heart is pounding then the tips I am going to share might offer some relief. I will also give little bit of background on why we have the symptoms we do when we are anxious or stressed and why the tips I will share might help to elevate them.
Our body already has a built-in stress reliever; it’s just a case of learning over time with relaxed breathing and some other techniques to tap into it. I am not saying it will get rid of our anxiety but I am saying it can help us to try to deactivate our stress response at times when practiced. I would also suggest meeting a Counsellor who can support you in exploring the underlining factors to this anxiety.
So without getting too technical I would like to talk a little bit about our stress response (Also know as the sympathetic response) and our relaxation response (Also known as our parasympathetic response). I will use the analogy of a light switch. Whilst it isn’t as easy as switching on and off a light switch (I understand I’ve been there too) we can tap into that inbuilt stress reliever with practices and learn to switch it off.
Firstly I would like to say there are good levels of anxiety which we need. These are they ones that tell us to stop when crossing a busy road or that we are standing too close to the edge of a cliff and these are to keep us safe.
Unhealthy anxiety is when the stress response is switched on and does not switch off. This is usually experienced when we are anticipating danger or threat in the future whether it is real or imagined and the fight or the flight response has gone wrong.
When our stress response is activated it shuts down other functions to put all our energy into surviving. Our heart rate increases causing our racing heart, our mouths dry up because we do not need Saliva as our digestive functions shut down, we become hyper-vigilant to scan for danger. This all occurs so we are ready for fight or flight (fighting for survival or run to safety). So that’s a little bit about the stress response.
Counter to the stress response we also have an inbuilt relaxation response which we can learn to activate with daily practice of the following three tips.
1. Relaxed breathing technique:
Firstly I would suggest that this is practiced two to three times daily to begin. This allows you to get use to it and then be able to implement it when you feel it is needed at times you feel particularly anxious as you it will become familiar to you.
Start off by placing your feet firmly on the ground. If possible sit down or get into a comfortable position. When we are anxious our breathing can speed up. This technique can allow us to slow our breathing and tells our body we are not in danger.
Start by slowly taking a deep breath and as your breathing in count in your mind as follows
Continue to do this for couple of minutes building it up to five to ten minutes over time. Try to do this twice daily.
This will help to tell your body that there is no danger and will help to activate our relaxation response which is inbuilt within our nervous system. If counting to four is too difficult when holding your breath you can shorten the time. Slowing down your breathing can help when feeling anxious.
2. Remind yourself it will pass:
If someone has experienced anxiety or an anxiety attack before they know how uncomfortable and frightening it can be when they feel this way. Although we also know it will pass. It is good to keep reminding ourselves in our mind that we have felt this way before and it to will pass as it did before. Whilst it feels like we are in danger we can try to keep reminding ourselves that these feelings will pass.
3.Progressive muscular relaxation techniques:
For fear of sounding repetitive I cannot stress enough the advantages of PMR techniques. When we are anxious we carry a lot of tension in our muscles. With the use of PMR it can have the reverse affect helping us to relax our muscles and calm our minds. This is something which can also help us getting off to sleep at night and can easily be found on YouTube.
When we educate ourselves about our anxiety we can gain more control over it. With the right techniques and support we can take control of our anxiety. I never thought when I suffered from anxiety I would overcome it but I have. I am always happy to help if you would like to pick up the phone and give me a call.
People begin to heal when they feel heard.