Three Simple Techniques For Easing Anxiety And Stress.
Updated: May 13, 2020
Anxiety, panic, overwhelm, and the strangely vague yet ubiquitous catch-all term “stress”... They’re tough nuts to crack. I wish I could write something that would magically ease the pain of everyone reading this, but alas. However, here are some activities that work pretty well when you’re feeling rattled.
Before you read on: Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the techniques below. When we freak out, we’re simple beasts with simple needs. When it comes to fear and anxiety, you can be a sophisticated scientist in the upper echelons of society on the outside, but really you're a Neanderthal cowering behind a bush.
Here you go:
Breathe. Obviously, I hope you’re already breathing, but you’ll need to do two additional things: slow it down and count. Inhale for four seconds, and exhale for six seconds. It doesn’t matter so much how many seconds you do for each breath; what matters is that your exhale is longer. Breathing out longer than you breathe in activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming you down. Do this for one or two minutes and you’ll start to feel some relief.
Move. If you can, get outside for a walk. The more natural the surroundings, the better, so make a beeline for greenery and water if they're accessible. Otherwise, a brisk stroll around the block works just fine. Walking around can start to lift you out of your stress spiral. If you can’t get outside, find a private place (even a bathroom stall) and do some jumping jacks, jog on the spot, or shake out your arms, legs, hands and feet for a few rounds. All this jiggling helps to drain your body of nerves and stress.
Write*. Get a pen and paper and do a brain dump of everything that’s on your mind. Doing this releases the pressure of keeping everything circling in your head and places it outside of you so you can see it more clearly and process it better. While you could do this on your laptop, I recommend pen and paper, since you can press harder with your pen or scribble if you need to express your frustration. If you have perfectionist tendencies, take a deep breath and try to let go of the urge to write down everything in the “right” way. It’s not a to-do list and you don’t need to write full, coherent sentences. Stop when it gets hard to think of something to write down. Take a short break after if you're still reeling. When you’re feeling more capable, come back to your page or pages, and choose one to three thoughts or worries from it that you can begin to address now with one to three small, easy action steps.
I sincerely hoped this helped you. Let me know if it did.
*Wait, did Neanderthals write? OK, I just looked it up and after exactly five seconds of research, it looks like no, they didn't. But they did use symbols and some sweet rudimentary painting. Anyway, sadly, this technique wouldn't have worked for them.