Quick Coping for Anxiety

Here are just a few quick coping strategies that actually work to quickly:

  • relieve stress in the body
  • reduce or stop a panic attack
  • put you back in control of yourself instead of anxiety controlling you

(Keep checking back to this page as I often add more ideas that are quick and effective...)

Water

This can help relieve stress and lower anxiety by:

  • slowly sipping room temperature water calms and provides something good for the body; the brain can then help a body to relax
  • listening to soft rain sounds or water dripping sounds soothing to people
  • run some water on your hands, let it relax you, allow it to help you restore regulated breathing 


Just Walk It Off

If you feel anxiety building or a panic attack coming on, here's some suggestions about how WALKING can help:

  • Yes, actually go for a walk.  Walk down the hall, walk into the restroom, walk outside, walk around the block....This will especially help with the fight/flight response that gets called to alert in our brains when anxiety or tension builds.
  • Walking away from a nerve-racking situation for a few minutes and then returning can be powerful (remember to consider if this is in your best interest at the time).
  • If you walk away from a discussion with someone that's making you panicky, let them know you will be back in just a few minutes and will continue or wrap up the conversation.  This will prevent more arguments, yelling, and someone following after you to just keep talking.
  • Walking releases nervous energy.
  • If you are in pain or have a condition that prevents you from walking, try stretching your arms, hands, legs, etc.  That will release tension.  Or, close your eyes and imagine going on a brisk walk and see where your imagination will take you.


Chew Gum

  • Pick your favorite or grab what's readily available and chew some gum!
  • The idea here is that the digestive system gets functioning again.
  • When this happens, the brain receives another signal that "everything is ok."
  • Then, the flight/fight mechanism calms and our bodies can return to a level state of functioning.

   
Tea Time

Some people like to drink hot tea in different varieties to calm and sooth.  Many boxes of tea will describe the benefits of the tea and if it has a calming effect like camomille tea or a "sleepy time" tea.

  • One benefit to calming anxiety without even drinking the tea is holding the warm mug in your hand or wrapping both your hands around it.  This tends to have a calming effect on our bodies - letting go of tension, return to a resting heart rate, relaxation feelings, etc.  
  • So the next time you find that you are dealing with conflict or a stressful task, see if holding a warm mug of tea in your hand will add to your coping skills and help you accomplish the challenge without anxiety or panic.
  • Or, it may simply be a helpful practice to sit with a warm cup of tea for a time out in the day to enjoy the warmth, aromas, and time for you...


Turn My Brain Off (for a while)

Sometimes we just need to use HELPFUL coping skills to turn off the worried thinking, what if's, looping thoughts, obsessions of the OCD variety, fears, and anxious self-talk that plays in our heads.  Here are some helpful coping skills to temporarily shut off the anxious and looping thinking:

  • listen to guided meditation (make sure that it's a voice and words that are soothing to you - if it's annoying or fake to you then you will get all tense and thinking again lol)
  • yoga (check with a dr. first disclaimer stated) because it gets you out of your head for a time
  • get lost in a fav movie or tv show
  • read - on your tablet or even an old-fashioned book
  • laugh and seek out funny stuff
  • volunteer 
  • socialize with positive people
  • artwork - paint, draw, color, clay, sew, bake, cook, etc.
  • play a board game
  • play fav online games
  • put together a puzzle

Be Grounded 

People who have inner peace and stillness (i.e., not plagued with anxiety, fear or panic) are usually well grounded and connected to the earth in some way. Give these suggestions a go for creating a sense of being "grounded" and notice how anxiety might lessen:

  • Feel your feet on the ground - barefoot or with shoes, the earth, the cement, the flooring - no rules here - it all works; just notice for a few moments what it's like to have your feet firmly planted on the ground; take a deep cleaning breath
  • Dig in - literally to dirt, sand, clay, the earth
  • Sit for a few minutes in easy sitting pose, rock side to side gently a few times to get your sits bones connected to the ground (or mat or flooring); sit and breath in and out slowly noticing your breath and your body connected to the earth.  Now doesn't that just sound relaxing?! 





HOPE 

Not just wishful thinking; find realistic hope When you feel panic that you are trapped, stress will only continue, overwhelmed, looping thinking that just endlessly loops, etc try these for HOPE:
~There is change in nautre, therefore change will happen - I will chose to remain positive that it will be for the better
~I am where I am for now and God/Universe will bring change and strength to endure until then
~I can borrow realistic Hope from someone else until it becomes mine
~Press the pause button on the negative "what if" thoughts and for kicks and giggles, let them be positive "what if" thoughts!




Containment of Big Emotions 
~Start this by writing down the big problematic emotion that you want to contain (anger, traumatized, sad, hurt, scared, etc)
~think of a container that closes that could hold this emotion (box, tote, safe, locker, jar, etc) and write that down or draw a quick sketch of it
~now imagine a place that you could keep that container safe and out of the way, yet you can access it when you want to (closet, locked room, bottom of the ocean, burried, etc) and write that down or make a quick sketch of that location around your container sketch
~find something small that resembles what you imagined, wrote, drew and keep it close by or in your pocket as a reminder So put together it works like this: You feel big fear that you want to contain to deal with later on.  Imagine that you place it in a clam shell that is strong and bury it in the squishy sand that the tide leaves behind.  Take a deep breath and let it be.  A few moments later if you start to notice the fear again, look at the clam shell on your bookcase and remind yourself that you put the fear in there until you are ready to deal with it.  Notice how you might feel calmer or safer knowing you have a tool to contain big emotions.
 
The Positive Power of Distraction and Procrastination 
Simply put: distract yourself!
~ Yes, it can be tough to concentrate when you are starting to panic or have an anxiety attack, so some of the best distractors are the active ones like talking to someone about another topic, word games, online puzzles games, work in the garden, run an errand, etc.
~ Do some of your favorite or typical things that you do when you are procrastinating - use this one to your advantage to stop a panic attack or relieve stress in your body.  Bet you can mentally list at least 3 of your favorite ways to procrastinate right now....



"Curious" 
We know the saying about what it did to the cat....well, it could do the same for your anxiety!
When you find yourself thinking "what if" statements, or worrying about what might happen, 
try being CURIOUS about it.
~Curious can really be an emotionally neutral word, and it's congruent to the situation because you are not completely ignoring your worry.  It a neutral place to shift to inorder to lower anxiety and stop those what if thoughts from running wild.
~think: humm....I can allow myself to be curious about a situation, event, another person's actions, my own behavior, etc...."`
~kinda like a detective: wonder, logic, stick to the facts, explore other options, open to new ideas (positive ones)
~Give it a go! Instead of, "What if this relationship doesn't work out?" Try: "I can be curious about what will happen...."  or  "What if I get there and something bad happens?"  Try: "I can be curious about what will happen at the meeting."


Shift your perspective 
If life is a journey, imagine driving a car on the road of life.  
~It is important when driving on the road of life to focus out the windshield just enough in front of you.  Looking too far ahead could cause you to miss what's right in front of you or around you.  
~Focusing too much in the rearview mirror could cause you to get off course in moving forward or miss what's right in front of you as well.  
~Focusing too much on the side mirrors could cause you to become distracted about where you intend to head or figure out how to reach your destination.  
~Keep perspective and let all those mirrors be tools for your use to keep you steadily moving along.


Dance like no one is watching! 
~Exercise will release the anxious energy
~Will help with relating physical sensations (heart pounding, qucik breathing, tight muscles, sweating, etc.) to "normal" because you are moving about, instead of "my body is freaking out" associated with thoughts during panic - More about this in my next post
~Way to express feelings in a healthy and helpful manner
~May even get you to smile and laugh and then you will not be anxious for that moment! :)

Check out Sean in the video below for more of his instruction and inspiration to have your own personal Dance Party: 
 


Aromatherapy 
Experts in Aromatherapy recommend Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Peppermint, and Sweet Orange Oil for helping to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
**Important Note: Before using any essential oils, check with your medical practitioner if you have any health concerns or conditions or if you are pregnant or nursing.**
~Start by sampling scents of the different oils and see what appeals to you the most.
~Place the oils in a diffuser around you.
~Place a drop of the oils on a cotton ball to tuck inside a pillowcase for nightime.
~Place a drop of the oil on a fabric bracelet or band to smell throughout the day.  (This is also great for kids to wear to school to help reduce their anxiety.)
~Use along with relaxation breathing.
 

Muscle Relaxation 
This can be done while riding as a passenger in the car (do NOT focus on this if you are DRIVING), sitting at your desk, standing in line at the store, or lying in your bed.  This technique is helpful to release anxious feelings or nervous energy in your muscles while helping you to regain a feeling of control in your body.

For a quick coping skill, start with shoulders, arms, and hands.  Tense musles, hold for 5 seconds (remember to breathe!), and then relax the muscles.  Repeat once or twice.
Then tense hips, legs, and feet.  Hold for 5 seconds and release.  Repeat once or twice.
If you have the time and need more relaxation, start with the top of your head, focusing on the tense and release cycle for each muscle group down to your toes.

 
Just Breathe! 
Yes, easily said... and effective, too, when you use diaphragmatic breathing.  
The idea is to:
~Inhale and exhale from the "belly" area and not the chest area.
~Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen to notice how your chest will stay still and your abdominal area will move in and out.
~Practice taking a few breaths this way - it's amazing to notice how the intake and exhalation of air in this manner calms the nervous system and can bring our bodies back into our control again.
 
 
When I work with little ones, I ask them to imagine that there is a balloon in their tummy that inflates as they breathe in and deflates as they let the breath go.

Positive Self-talk 
The key is to form a positive phrase, making it as believable as possible considering the circumstances.
For example, instead of "Things won't be so bad," try:
~"Positive changes are happening," or
~"I can handle this in small pieces," or 
~"I am usually ok at managing my way through."


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