Many of us are battling anxiety right now, and it’s not easy. Here’s how you can manage your thoughts and feelings during stressful times.
For people who suffer from anxiety, stressful moments in time — like the ones we’re going through right now — can be especially taxing. Anxiety prompts fight or flight reactions from our bodies, something that’s natural and necessary for survival when faced with an immediate threat. The thing about anxiety is that you don’t have to be facing a lion in order to experience it.
It can be hard to pinpoint the moment when your anxiety gets of out control, which is why anxious people sometimes find themselves going through different scenarios in their heads, each one more unlikely than the next, yet all equally distressing.
To prevent these thoughts — or at least to manage them — it’s important to notice your personal patterns. Here are 5 things you can do to reign in an anxiety spiral:
Deep breathing — or diaphragmatic breathing — can help you manage your anxiety since one of the symptoms that first affects us when spiraling is shallow breathing. Deep breaths, especially the ones pulled from your diaphragm, will oxygenate you and ground you in the present.
In order to learn how to use your diaphragm for breathing, put a hand on your chest and a hand on your stomach and start taking deep breaths. The hand on your stomach should move with each breath, while the hand on your chest should remain relatively static. Try these breathing techniques whenever you’re anxious.
Monitor your thoughts
Keeping track of your thoughts can help prevent anxiety spirals by learning what your trigger points are. Try to pay attention to your moods. Are you feeling irritated? Did someone else’s behavior stress you out? Noticing how you’re feeling in the moment will allow you to find what triggers your anxiety. Tracking behaviors is a very common and helpful thing to practice, allowing you to know yourself better and to avoid any sneak attacks by your feelings.
Do a physical chore
If you’re feeling anxious and jittery, try completing a physical chore, like cleaning the dishes, mowing the lawn or organizing your closet. These tasks allow a brief escape from your thoughts, creating some distance between yourself and the story that your brain is working so hard to tell you.
Depending on the type of anxiety you’re dealing with, you could also try other types of distractions, like watching a movie or listening to music. If you need something more engaging to keep your thoughts from running away from you, try playing a video game with headphones on. Video games ask of you to use your body and your brain simultaneously, which is why so many people find them as ideal distractions.
Try staying present
Experiment with different methods that help you stay in the moment, whether that’s closing your eyes or contracting and releasing your muscles. These techniques are very common for keeping you grounded and in the moment, something that can put a stop to anxious thoughts that are keen to distance you from what’s going on right now.