Anxious? Three Tips to Reduce Anxiety
Often times people feel anxious. The start of a new chapter in one’s life or an unfamiliar situation may cause anxiety. I feel anxiety most often in two situations, when I have too much to do and when I am in rough seas or unusually large swells with my kayak. What work for me in the first situation is to deep breath (see instructions below) get organized (lists work) and remind myself that the feeling of being overwhelmed will pass. In the second situation I breath, become hyper-focused and remind myself of all the resources I have in case something goes “wrong”. These examples of anxiety are typical. If your feelings of anxiety are heightened and seem to be present most of the time read on.
In my counseling practice in Topsfield, Massachusetts I frequently work with people who are stuck on roller coaster of anxiety. Here are my top three tips for helping you get off the ride:
Tip # 1 to Reduce Anxiety
Eliminate caffeine. Yes, eliminate. If you are shaking your head “No”, try to cut back gradually. With coffee try half caffeinated/half decaffeinated. If you like soda cut back the amount gradually. You know if you should withdraw “cold turkey” from your caffeine habit. Caffeine is a stimulant and if you are anxious a stimulant is not being helpful.
Tip #2 to Reduce Anxiety
Practice breathing. Yes, I know you know how to breathe already, this is a different way of breathing that will reduce anxiety. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale through your mouth for a count of 4. Take 10 breaths each time and practice twice a day as well as when you feel your anxiety mounting. It is important to make the inhalations long, slow and deep. Pretend there is a balloon in your belly and with one inhale you are blowing it up, with each exhale the balloon is collapsing. On the inhalations visualize warm calming air coming into your body and going down into your belly. On the exhalations make a gentle “shhhh” as the air escapes your mouth. (you can eliminate the “shhhh” if you are in a public setting.
Tip #3 to Reduce Anxiety
Be silent. Stop the noise outside of your head and quiet the noise in your head. Turn off the radio while driving (& breathe). Find time to sit quietly, even if it is just for a few minutes. If you put the TV on as back ground noise, try shutting it off. We take in more information in a day than our brains can process. Downtime will give your brain the chance to catch-up.
I hope you found these tips helpful in getting unstuck. If your anxiety symptoms persist call a local mental health professional and, of course, you can always call Harmony Counseling in Topsfield MA, 978-561-1927 to arrange an appointment to get you off of the roller coaster that can be anxiety.
~Katherine Ryan, LMHC, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and the owner of Harmony Counseling in Topsfield, Massachusetts where she enjoys helping adults, children and teens become unstuck.