I work with many clients who are struggling with anxiety, whether it is related to the current pandemic, their jobs, parenting, relationships with others, or just general life stressors. My job as their therapist is to help the client understand what is contributing to their anxiety, and then possible coping mechanisms to help manage their anxiety.
I recently read an article from The New York Times that touched on this very topic about how to better manage one’s anxiety especially during the current pandemic, “Five-Minute Coronavirus Stress Resets” by author Jenny Taitz.
Below describes Taitz’s article in more detail regarding how to manage stress during a global pandemic or simply anytime for that matter!
- Music Therapy. While I am not a certified music therapist, I have certainly seen the effects of my anxiety decrease when I find that peaceful playlist curated just for me. Also, with listening to music, it can help bring you to the present moment to pay attention to the instruments, words, and many times the right type of song can bring out the feelings that have been buried inside of you for quite some time.
- Change your Body Temperature. Research has shown that our mind and body are truly interconnected by helping to regulate intense emotions by changing our body temperatures. For example, if you are feeling extremely anxious or depressed, jumping into a very cold shower and having cold water hit your face can actually help reduce your anxiety and/or depression. While this may sound like a silly technique, it actually works because it activates your body’s diverse response, a reflex that occurs when you cool your nostrils while holding your breath, which then dampens your physiological and emotional intensity. When the cool water hits your face, it slows your heart rate, which allows blood to flow easily to your brain.
- Inhale, Exhale. Breathing techniques are one of the easiest and most convenient techniques that we always have accessible in our back pocket. It can be helpful to inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and breath out of your mouth for four seconds. Slowing down your breathing can reduce your blood pressure, which then helps create a sense of peace.
- Grounding techniques. One grounding technique to reduce one’s anxiety is referred to as “anchoring” which is done by physically digging your heels in the ground. Through doing this, you are physically grounded in the reality of the present moment.
- Questions to ask yourself while anchoring. After doing the anchoring technique, take a few moments to ask yourself some important questions such as: “What am I feeling and how am I physically feeling? Are these thoughts helpful to me? Are these thoughts aligned with my values? Are these thoughts relevant to the past, present, or future?” Sometimes if we can determine that the thoughts are not helpful, it can then help get us out of the rumination pattern.
- Seek the physical discomfort. Many people experience physical symptoms when feeling anxious, such as shortness of breath, muscle tension, and dizziness. While it may sound silly to activate any of those physical symptoms (such as breathing through a thin straw while plugging your nose), it can actually help you in a future moment when the physical discomfort comes up unexpectantly. The reason behind this technique is because when you repeatedly welcome your physical symptoms of anxiety, it allows you to not to see them as catastrophic.
While this list provided 5 different techniques to reduce your anxiety, attempt to focus on the one (s) that you think helps you the most, as you know yourself more than anyone else.
If you are currently struggling with anxiety, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our dedicated professional counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.