5 Easy Ways to Manage Anxiety

5 Easy Ways to Manage Anxiety

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.

4.Grounding

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.

*5-4-3-2-1

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

5. Exercise

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.

Anxiety- What is it?

Anxiety- What is it?

WRITTEN BY: KIMBERLY ALANIZ, LCSW-S

Nearly every individual will experience symptoms of anxiety in their lifetime. In fact, small amounts of anxiety aren’t necessarily a bad thing. So, can anxiety be good? Or even helpful? The answer is, yes! Like other emotions, anxiety serves an important biological purpose; protection.

Evolutionarily (think back to cave man days) it protected cavemen from walking through tall grass with the potential of being attacked by an animal hiding feet away. In today’s modern world, anxiety can push you to study for a big algebra test, encourage you to apply for your dream job or discourage you from walking down a dark, empty alley alone.  

Biologically, anxiety prepares and propels the body to fight or flee a stressful situation in an attempt to protect. You may experience this as a rapid heart rate and breathing, which purpose is to send oxygenated blood to muscles you need in the process (i.e., your legs). You may even experience this as racing thoughts, which mentally prepares you for every possible scenario. Although the experience itself may feel negative, healthy amounts of anxiety are normal.

So, when can anxiety be bad or unhelpful? When the feelings of anxiety become excessive dread or fear that interrupts everyday life even when there is no evidence of a real threat. These symptoms could suggest a clinical anxiety disorder.

Most common anxiety disorders:

· generalized anxiety disorder- excessive, unrealistic worry about everyday life situations with no obvious reason.

· social anxiety disorder- excessive fear and irrational thoughts about social situations to include worries about feeling judged, embarrassed or humiliated.

· panic disorder- excessive fear and worries about losing control or disaster accompanied by sudden or frequent attacks of fear that last a few minutes to longer (also called panic attacks).

Other common symptoms of an anxiety disorders are:

· Feelings of panic, dread and doom

· Difficulties falling and staying asleep

· Shortness of breath or rapid shallow breathing

· Rapid heart beat

· Tense muscles

· Stomach issues not explained by another medical condition

· Over thinking

· Inability to concentrate

Sound familiar? If so, seek support from a loved one or contact a mental health professional who can help you understand your anxiety and help find ways to manage symptoms. Contact us today!

The Best Way to Combat a Panic Attack

The Best Way to Combat a Panic Attack

Your heart feels like it’s going to beat out of your chest. Suddenly your temperature is rising. You’re getting a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and feel like you’re out of breath. It’s getting harder to pace your breathing and your thoughts feel out of control. Each of these symptoms  alone are common side effects of anxiety, worry, and stress. When mixed together and left uncontrolled, they can create something called panic attacks.

This article will review a key way to help your body regulate and calm down before the panic attack hits. Remember, early intervention is the best way to curb panic attacks.

Deep breathing. Also known as diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing. This is one of the most powerful tools in managing anxiety. This is the best way to calm your heart rate in a healthy way and combat an upcoming panic attack. Deep breathing is very different than taking a deep breath. The focus is on making the belly rise when inhaling and making the belly sink in when exhaling.

Let’s walk through it now:

  1. Sit comfortably with both feet on the floor. Relax your body as best you can.
  2. Place your left hand on your chest and your right hand on your belly.
  3. Breathe in through your nose slowly and focus on expanding your belly. Your right hand should rise with your breath while your left hand stays as still as possible.
  4. When your belly can’t hold any more air, hold your breath for 4 seconds, then release slowly. Remember keep your left hand as still as possible while your right hand moves in and out with your belly.

As mentioned previously, early intervention is key. The moment you begin to feel flushed, the moment your heart beats a little fast- breathe deep and begin this breathing exercise. Practice with only 3-4 breaths at a time and create a calming phrase to go along with the breathing. Something like “I am safe, I am sound” or “Breath in the positive, Release the negative,” or “If God is for me, who can be against me.”

It’s best to practice each day when you feel calm, that way when you feel overwhelmed, you will remember what you practiced. Just a few minutes a day can really pay off during the time you really.

Click here for a visual on how to do apply the 4X4X4 breathing strategy.

How to Help a Loved One who has Anxiety

How to Help a Loved One who has Anxiety

Managing anxiety can be difficult for the person going through it. Such is true for the people around them. Family members and close friends who are impacted by having a loved one struggle with anxiety can be difficult. This article focuses 3 easy ways a loved one can support their family member without enabling.

Listen. No matter how many times you’ve heard it, no matter how often this has happened, listen. The person struggling with anxiety does not want to have this condition. They do not wake this morning wanting to feel anxiety. Listen with your ears, but really listen with your heart. Offer non-verbal encouragement, nod your head, look at them, and sit with them on their level.

Limit. Being supportive of your loved one struggling with anxiety doesn’t mean that you are constantly available. While it is important to show consistent support and stability by being physically and emotionally present, you don’t have to completely stop and hold your life. Give yourself a magic number. Think of a certain amount of time you are willing and able to dedicate and devote to listening and being with your loved one today. This number can vary from day to day. This morning you may have 15 minutes, but tomorrow you may have 30. Let your loved one know you want to be there for them but set boundaries.

Ask. During a time your loved one is calm, ask what you can do to help the next time they feel anxious. Ask what they need during these times. Ask questions to better understand how anxiety impacts them personally. If your loved one does not know the answer to these questions or are providing answers that seem codependent (ie:”as long as you never leave my side, I’m ok”), that’s a clear indicator they could benefit from getting some extra help.

Having a loved one with anxiety is not easy. It may seem that despite your best attempts, the anxiety does not seem to ease back. But remember, your loved one is different than the anxiety. When you feel angry or frustrated, just remember to target this towards the anxiety not your loved one. The two of you together can fight towards the same cause: managing the anxiety.

3 Reasons Why Finding a Counselor Can Be So Hard

3 Reasons Why Finding a Counselor Can Be So Hard

Why is it so hard to find a counselor? After weeks of looking, you’re starting to think Maybe it’s best to just quit. You’re faced with multiple barriers you hadn’t even considered that leave you with thoughts like, Wait, how much does counseling cost? You don’t take my insurance? How long until I can start? What do you mean you don’t specialize in this?

This article reviews some of the top reasons finding a counselor can be so hard and 3 solutions to help.

“Sorry, we don’t take your insurance.” Contrary to popular belief, not every counselor takes your insurance- or any insurance at all. Private pay rates for counseling services can range anywhere between $80-$150 per session. If you are looking for a counselor who specifically takes your insurance, start with your insurance company. Call the “member services line” on the back of your insurance card, it is usually a 1–888 or 1-800 phone number. Ask for help to find a “mental health or behavioral health counselor.” Put your insurance to work. Ask for a list of counselors in your area who take your insurance and begin calling from there.

Sorry, we aren’t taking new clients and won’t have availability until 3 months from now.” Believe it or not, counseling is in high demand. Some counseling agencies don’t have availability until weeks or months out. Consider the problem you are facing, can this issue wait for weeks or months? The typical answer is no, it cannot. Don’t postpone receiving support simply because that counselor is unavailable. Keep calling other places, keep looking around. With virtual services available, consider calling other cities in your area. This could widen the availability for clinical counseling services.

“Sorry, we don’t treat that issue here.” Some counselors do not specialize in the issue you are needing counseling services for. For example, if you are needing marriage counseling, not all counselors treat couples. If you need counseling for your seven-year-old child, not all counselors are trained to treat this age group. Based on the problem you need help with, take a look around for a counselor who specializes in this issue. When you call different places, let this be the first question you ask- Do any of your counselors offer couples counseling? When searching online, search specifically for “marriage counseling” rather than just “counseling.”

Overall, finding a counselor can be difficult. But please, don’t take this as some sort of weird sign from the world that you should NOT get help. The previously mentioned are minor inconveniences in the grand scheme of things. Your healing is on the line and you deserve this. Don’t let obstacles deter your opportunity for a better future.