In the video titled “10 quick anxiety relief techniques,” cognitive behavioral therapy experts Ali Mattu and another specialist share their expertise on managing anxiety. The video covers various techniques that can help reduce anxiety quickly, providing simple coping skills to promote instant calmness.
From getting grounded to making friends with anxiety, changing body chemistry, and finding coping mechanisms, the video offers a comprehensive range of techniques for managing anxiety. It also emphasizes that while these techniques are effective for short-term relief, long-term treatment and seeking professional help are crucial for sustainable anxiety management.
Technique 1: Grounding
Grounding is a technique that helps bring your focus to the present moment. It can be especially helpful when you're feeling disconnected or experiencing depersonalization or derealization. One effective grounding method is the 5-4-3-2-1 method, which engages your senses.
To practice the 5-4-3-2-1 method, start by looking around and noticing five different things in your environment. Pay attention to the details and describe these things to yourself. Then, touch four different things, such as your shirt, watch, ring, or objects in your pocket. Really feel these objects and notice the sensations they provide.
Next, listen for three different sounds in your surroundings. This could be the humming of lights, the sound of a bird outside, or the noise from an air conditioning unit. After that, focus on smelling two different scents in your environment. It could be the aroma of your tea or baked goods you recently made. Finally, concentrate on one sensation you can taste, such as the feeling of having a dry mouth.
In addition to the 5-4-3-2-1 method, you can also engage in activities that transport you to a familiar place or immerse yourself in an activity that keeps your mind and body occupied. Visualizing yourself going through a familiar environment can help bring a sense of familiarity and connection to the present moment. Another option is to get absorbed in an activity that requires your full attention, such as organizing your bookshelf or working on a hobby.
Technique 2: Making Friends with Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal emotion that serves as a survival mechanism. It's important to understand that anxiety is not something that can be completely eliminated from our lives. Instead of trying to fight against anxiety, it's more helpful to make friends with it and understand its role in our lives.
Anxiety is like rocket fuel that activates our flight-or-fight response. It increases our heart rate, breathing, and muscle tension, allowing us to respond to threats or challenges. By reframing anxiety as a helpful ally, we can better navigate and cope with it. Remember that anxiety has kept our species alive for thousands of years.
Challenging negative thoughts is another important aspect of making friends with anxiety. When anxiety kicks in, our minds tend to jump to worst-case scenarios and catastrophize situations. By questioning and challenging these negative thoughts, we can gain a more realistic perspective. Ask yourself if there is evidence to support these thoughts or if there might be alternative explanations.
Acceptance and embracing anxiety are also essential in making friends with it. Rather than resisting or trying to suppress anxiety, accept it as a natural part of life. Embrace the discomfort and acknowledge that anxiety is a temporary state. By accepting anxiety, we can learn to coexist with it and reduce its power over us.
Technique 3: Changing Your Body's Chemistry
One effective way to reduce anxiety is by changing your body's chemistry. Physical activity is a powerful tool in regulating and reducing anxiety. Engaging in exercise, such as running, swimming, weightlifting, or even brisk walks, can help burn off excess energy and release endorphins that promote a sense of calmness and well-being.
For those who may not enjoy intense physical exercise, an alternative method is the dive reflex. This technique triggers the body's parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm you down. You can stimulate the dive reflex by splashing cold water on your face or immersing your face in cold water for about 15 to 30 seconds.
Regulating your breathing is another effective way to change your body's chemistry. Slowing down your breathing and exhaling more slowly than you inhale can activate the body's relaxation response. Try breathing in for four seconds, holding your breath for four seconds, and then exhaling for eight seconds. Practice this technique regularly to train your body to respond to anxiety with a slower and more regulated breathing pattern.
Technique 4: Stopping the Fight Against Anxious Thoughts
Anxious thoughts can be overwhelming and can significantly contribute to anxiety. Practicing mindfulness can help stop the fight against these thoughts and create distance from them. Mindfulness involves bringing your attention to the present moment without judgment.
Instead of trying to resist or block out anxious thoughts, observe them non-judgmentally. Simply notice the thoughts as they arise, label them as “anxiety,” and allow them to pass like clouds floating across the sky. Understand that thoughts are just thoughts and do not necessarily reflect reality.
Acceptance is a crucial aspect of stopping the fight against anxious thoughts. Rather than getting caught up in a battle with your thoughts, accept their presence and let them be. Remember that having anxious thoughts does not make you weak or inadequate. By accepting and acknowledging them, you can reduce their power over you and prevent them from spiraling into a cycle of worry.
Engaging in activities that distract your mind from anxious thoughts can also be helpful. Find activities that capture your attention and keep you fully engaged, such as reading, listening to music, watching a movie, or practicing a hobby. Distracting yourself allows you to redirect your focus away from anxious thoughts and shift your attention to something more positive or enjoyable.
Technique 5: Using Opposite Action
Facing anxiety-provoking situations can be challenging, but using opposite action can help you build confidence and confront your fears. This technique involves taking small steps towards overcoming anxiety-provoking situations gradually.
Start by identifying situations that make you anxious but are not overwhelmingly distressing. Then, create a step-by-step plan to gradually expose yourself to these situations. Begin with the least anxiety-provoking step and gradually increase the difficulty as you become more comfortable.
Taking small steps allows you to build confidence and experience success along the way. By gradually facing your fears, you can challenge the beliefs and patterns that contribute to anxiety. Remember to be patient with yourself and celebrate every achievement, no matter how small.
Technique 6: Using Coping Skills
Coping skills are essential tools that can help you manage anxiety effectively. It's important to identify and develop coping strategies that work well for you. Coping skills can include a wide range of techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, or engaging in hobbies and activities that bring you joy.
Journaling and self-reflection are also powerful coping skills. Writing down your thoughts and emotions can provide a sense of release and help you gain clarity. Reflecting on your experiences and identifying patterns or triggers can also contribute to a better understanding of your anxiety and how to manage it.
Seeking support from others is another vital aspect of using coping skills. Share your feelings and fears with trusted friends, family members, or support groups. Talking to others who can relate to your experiences can provide validation and a sense of connection. Additionally, consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and support in developing and implementing coping strategies.
Technique 7: Doing Something You Love
Engaging in hobbies and interests can help reduce anxiety and improve overall well-being. These activities provide an outlet for self-expression, relaxation, and a break from stressors. Find activities that bring you joy and make time for them regularly.
Whether it's painting, playing a musical instrument, gardening, cooking, or any other activity that sparks your interest, dedicate time to indulge in these activities. Focusing on things you love allows you to immerse yourself in the present moment and experience a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
Taking breaks for self-care is also essential in doing something you love. Prioritize self-care activities, such as taking a bath, practicing mindfulness or meditation, enjoying a cup of tea, or engaging in gentle exercise. These activities promote relaxation, reduce stress, and help recharge your mind and body.
Technique 8: Recharging
Prioritizing sleep and rest is crucial for managing anxiety and maintaining overall well-being. Lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety symptoms and make it more challenging to cope with stressors. Aim for an adequate amount of sleep each night, typically between 7 to 9 hours for adults.
Creating a bedtime routine can help signal your body and mind that it's time to relax and prepare for sleep. Establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Engage in relaxing activities before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Managing stress and incorporating relaxation into your daily routine is also vital for recharging. Find relaxation techniques that work for you, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or yoga. These activities can help reduce muscle tension, promote mental clarity, and create a sense of calmness.
Technique 9: Remembering Your Why
Identifying your motivation and finding purpose in everyday life can be powerful sources of strength in managing anxiety. Understanding why you want to overcome anxiety and what is meaningful to you can provide a sense of direction and motivation.
Take time to reflect on your values, goals, and priorities. What is important to you? What do you want to achieve in your life? By clarifying your why, you can better navigate stressful situations and make decisions that align with your values and personal growth.
Setting specific goals can also help you stay focused and motivated. Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable steps. By taking consistent action towards your goals, you can build momentum and gain a sense of accomplishment.
Finding purpose in everyday life involves engaging in activities and relationships that bring meaning and fulfillment. Whether it's spending quality time with loved ones, helping others, pursuing meaningful work, or engaging in hobbies that align with your values, connecting with your purpose can enhance well-being and provide a sense of fulfillment.
Technique 10: Seeking Help
Seeking help from a therapist or counselor can be a valuable step in managing anxiety. A mental health professional can provide guidance, support, and evidence-based strategies tailored to your specific needs. They can help you explore the root causes of your anxiety, develop coping skills, and effectively manage symptoms.
There are various treatment options available for anxiety, and a therapist can help you navigate and choose the most suitable approach. These options may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, mindfulness-based techniques, or other evidence-based therapies.
In addition to professional help, accessing additional resources can further support your journey in managing anxiety. Books, online resources, support groups, and educational materials can provide valuable information and tools to complement your therapy sessions.
Remember that managing anxiety is a process that takes time, patience, and practice. Be kind to yourself, celebrate your progress, and reach out for help when needed. With the right support and techniques, you can effectively manage anxiety and lead a fulfilling life.