Managing anxiety can feel impossible. We live in an “always on” world. Work emails are expected to be answered immediately, news alerts pop up constantly, and social media lets us constantly know the fantastic life everyone else seems to be living. Add on a pandemic, and it’s easy to see why many of us are struggling with anxiety. Our bodies and minds are being put under constant stress. Anxiety can take many forms and sometimes even goes completely unnoticed by the people in your life.
Anxiety can feel impossible to manage and like a never ending cycle. However, there are various exercises that you can use to help cope with your anxiety. Like most exercises, these can take time to start seeing results but these exercises can be incredibly effective and well worth the time and energy.
In And Out: Practicing Daily Breathing Exercises
Anxiety is very physical- your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes shallow, and your muscles tense. Belly breathing, where you focus on breathing deeply from your diaphragm causing your belly to rise and fall, can help trigger your body’s relaxation response. The 4-7-8 method can be an easy way to practice belly breathing. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold while you count to 7, then breathe out through your mouth while counting to 8. Repeat up to four times until you get more used to the technique.
Notice the Small Things: Developing A Mindfulness Practice
Anxiety usually means we are thinking about the future or worried about something in the past; we are rarely focused on the present moment. Being mindful means being present in the current moment, without judgment. A daily mindfulness practice can help calm your brain making it easier to complete tasks and feel more relaxed. An easy way to practice is to find something you already do every day, and engage with it using all of your senses. If you drink coffee in the mornings, take 30 seconds to notice how the coffee smells, how it tastes, what the liquid looks like swirling in the cup. Imagine you are describing it to someone who has never experienced coffee before. Over time, you can begin to practice mindfulness on more stressful situations and your brain will learn to slow down and think more logically.
Go The Extra Mile: Exercising To Calm Yourself
It’s no secret that physical exercise is good for the mind and the body. When we are feeling anxious, our body is perceiving a threat and thinks it needs to either get ready to fight or run away. This helped our ancestors survive bear attacks. But since responding to your boss’ email and fighting a bear don’t quite take the same level of physical effort, your body has no way to release the built up energy. Exercise as simple as walking around outside, doing ten jumping jacks, or dancing around your living room to your favorite song can make a huge difference. Any chance you get to move your body can help release anxiety and tension.
And of course, connect with a therapist through RightFit to help you take back control of your life.