WRITTEN BY: KIMBERLY ALANIZ, LCSW-S
Do you feel like getting your anxiety under control seems too hard? Below are 5 easy things you can do today to get you anxiety under control– and each just take few minutes.
1.Step away from the caffeine
Although coffee affects each person differently, it may not be the best choice if you struggle with anxiety. Coffee is a powerful stimulant that mimics natural functions in you body that happen when we are anxious and your body /mind may not be able to tell the difference. You may feel your heart rate increase, take shorter breaths or even a rise in temperature. Mentally, you may even feel restless, stressed or nervous. Swapping your morning coffee for warm tea or hot cocoa may help reduce anxiety without abandoning the warm, calming routine.
2. Spend some time in nature
Evaluate what your average day looks like. Where and how do you normally spend your time? If the answer is indoors and in front of a screen it may be time to get outside. Spending time in nature could improve both your physical and emotional healthy. Physically, time outdoors lowers blood pressure, releases muscle tension and decreases the creation of stress hormones. Activities like enjoying the evening on your front porch or hiking a trail could help calm the body and mind. In fact, research shows even viewing scenic images of nature can have similar effects.
3. Focus on your breathing
Deep breathing exercises can help create links between both sympathetic (kick starts fight or flight) and parasympathetic (influences relaxation) nervous systems. When you take a long, deep breath in, your sympathetic nervous system increases things like your heart rate and blood pressure. As you elongate the exhale, your body begins slow the heart and loosen tense muscles.
Try this breathing exercise and enjoy the benefits!
*Box breathing- Sit in a comfortable, quite spot with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Draw your attention to your breath. Drag the tip of your finger along your leg to “draw” each side of a box using the following breaths as a guide. Exhale, inhale (count to 4 in your mind), hold your breath for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts. Repeat at least 4 times.
Grounding is a practice that allows a person to refocus and redirect nervous thoughts, flashbacks or uncomfortable emotions to the present time and behaviors. Here are two grounding activities to try.
*Place your hand underneath a running tap of warm water. Focus on the temperature and pressure of the water as it hits parts of your hand. Listen closely to the sounds of the running water. How do the sensations differ from your fingertips, palm and the back of your hand? Now try this with cold water and then alternate between the two.
Counting backwards from five, focusing on your five senses, interact physically or list things around you.
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
Even though we may not always enjoy exercise, we almost never regret how we feel after. This is more than likely because of the endorphins released in our body after activity. No need to run to the gym. Things like a brisk walk with your pet, dancing in your kitchen as you cook dinner or riding your bike are all great alternatives to a gym membership.
If you begin to feel discouraged because it seems like everything you try doesn’t work, you’re not alone. Don’t feel as though you have to work through this silently. We are here to help you get your anxiety under control- reach out to us to schedule an appointment within a week.