I have struggled with anxiety my entire life. When I was only five years old I used to lay in bed and sweat at night, feeling as if my lungs were collapsing and I couldn’t breathe. I went to a doctor and he explained that I had an anxiety disorder and the feelings of shortness of breath and heart palpitations were from the anxiety. Since then, I have gone to many therapists and counselors and they have taught me some of the best tricks and tips for combatting anxiety.
As simple as this one may seem, breathwork is one of the best ways to relieve a fast heartbeat and calm down your thoughts. One of my therapists explained that the most effective type of breath was a breath of four seconds to eight seconds. For the exhale, one should do this slower than the inhale. Repeat this sequence a few times, and this can really slow the body and mind down.
This tip can really only help you if you have access to paper and drawing materials. If you do though, you’re in luck, this can really relax you and calm the mind. Just take a piece of paper, choose some type of design or doodle that takes some bit of effort and movement, then start. For example, a flower with a bunch of petals is good because you will be constantly moving the pencil. I used to doodle a lot in high school when I would get anxious in class, and it significantly helped relieve the stress and anxious thoughts I would have in the classroom.
This practice is a way to get the mind off of whatever is making it race. Take an item in the room and concentrate on it and only it. This could be anything from a plant to a hair tie on your dresser, to a sock on the floor. Focus on this item intently and begin to notice things about it. Pick up on the curves, the colors, and anything else about it that you can note. Focusing your attention span on one thing can help distract the mind from the million other things it wants to think about.
- Color Counting
Start by choosing one color in your surrounding. Then, try to make this color a little unique, maybe not something such as white, black or nude. Then count how many items in your surroundings there are of this color. Try and focus only on the items and the number count. This exercise has really helped me because my mind is so distracted trying to find the next colored item that I am able to really calm myself down.
Now this one may seem obvious and overdone, but exercise and moving the body is one of the best ways to stop anxiety and release endorphins. You don’t need to be in amazing shape to get up and move your body, you can do something as simple as going on a walk around the neighborhood. There are also so many amazing small workouts on YouTube that are available for free. I have found the most payoff from yoga because it combines working out with breathwork which does wonders on the mind. One of my favorite instructors is @Yoga With Adriene on YouTube!