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Everyone deals with anxiety from time to time. While it’s perfectly normal, sometimes it may feel scary and as if you’re unraveling out of control. However, there are ways to stay grounded, to keep your control. Here are some tips and tricks to handle your anxiety.

Count

Counting is a simple way to relieve anxiety. I learned this from a counselor in elementary school and I still use it to this day. Close your eyes and slowly count to 10. Repeat as necessary or even count to a higher number. You can even count something physical. In the Netflix Original, Haunting of Hill House, the character Luke counts to seven on his toy soldiers whenever he starts feeling scared. Counting helps you focus on something other than your anxiety and is a great tool when you’re in a crowded or public place.

Breathe

We're breathing all the time, but during an anxiety episode, it may feel like it's too hard to breathe or like you’re not getting enough air into your lungs. This is because you may be taking shallow, rapid breaths that contribute to hyperventilation. That’s why it’s essential to pause, calm your breath, and take long deep breaths. My favorite approach is the four-six-eight technique. Breathe in for four counts, hold for six counts, and exhale for eight counts. It’ll make you feel calmer and more balanced almost instantly.

Watch a funny YouTube video

This is by far my favorite way to relieve anxiety, and it's usually my go-to. Research conducted by Allegheny College has shown that the act of laughing is a lot like deep breathing — it will reduce stress hormones and bring oxygen to the body that will lead to muscle relaxation. Whatever makes you laugh, relax and feel the good will at work. I recommend creators such as Lucas Cruikshank, Danny Gonzalez and Kurtis Conner. Laughter really is the best medicine!

Move your body 

Stretch. Go for a walk. Do 15 minutes of yoga. Practice a TikTok dance. Whatever it is you need to do, do it. Shift your attention away from your mind and onto your body. Movement is a great way to release stress and hit the restart button. In the long term, regular exercise can make your body less reactive to typical anxiety symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, by developing a tolerance to them. 

Identify irrational thoughts 

Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with worst-case scenarios and worrying about what other people are thinking. But there's a line to be drawn on this dysfunctional thinking. When I took my speech course, our required textbook, Practically Speaking by J. Rothwell, had a section about anxiety. It said that catastrophic thinking is unrealistic because it's unlikely to happen, and a mistake that may seem significant to you will most likely be entirely forgettable for the audience. So how do you know if you’re having an irrational thought?

First, be aware. Recognize when you’re feeling anxious or uncomfortable and think about how it's affecting your point of view. Stop, write out your thoughts, read it back, and then consider some more balanced thoughts for the situation. 

These are some tips that have helped me through my own anxiety. Remember — if your anxiety seems unmanageable by yourself or is interfering with your life, please don't hesitate to ask for help! There are so many resources where you can find the care that's right for you.

Chelsea is a Junior at the University of Central Florida majoring in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and minoring in Mass Media. Her hobbies include reading romance and fantasy books, binge-watching Netflix, writing for Her Campus and going to concerts. She dreams of living somewhere in Europe some day with all the books she could read and a few cats.
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