Many years ago I had horribly debilitating anxiety. The biggest problem, for me, was that it was so overwhelming that I struggled to even be able to identify any of the triggers. While there are plenty of medications that can be prescribed for anxiety, I struggled with taking the medication on numerous levels. Let’s review for a moment what anxiety is. At it’s core, anxiety is a combination of stress and fear. I’m sure there’s not an adult alive who doesn’t understand the horribly debilitating implications of anxiety. I’m sure anyone who has experienced anxiety has attempted to eliminate it at one point or another. The reason many people are unsuccessful in eliminating anxiety is because 96-98% of all your habits and behaviors are stored in your subconscious mind. Goal setting is a conscious mind activity.
Below are the top 10 ways I assist my clients in decreasing their anxiety. Many of them, myself included, have completely eliminated their anxiety by using the skills below.
- Grounding: This concept is designed to bring you back to the present moment and distract you from what’s occurring inside of your body and mind. The basic concept of this form of grounding is when you name a certain number of things. For example: Name 5 small animals, name 5 flavors of ice cream, name 5 movies with kids in them.
- Squared Breathing: The intent with this one is to give you something to focus on other than the thoughts in your head or the feelings in your body. Here’s how you do it: you inhale for so many counts, hold your breath (for the same count), exhale (for the same count) and hold it (for the same count). The goal is to start off at a small number and increase the number of counts each time you go through this cycle. This is also a great way to get to sleep.
- Deep Breathing: When a person experiences anxiety it’s as if the flight or fight response has been triggered in their brain. Most people tend to hold their breathe or engage in shallow breathing once the symptoms of anxiety begin to set in. When surface or shallow breathing occurs it’s as if the accelerator has gotten stuck on the chemical pumping high amounts of flight or fight into your body.
- Tactile sensations: Whether it’s silly putty, hand lotion, doodling, or playing with your hair; tactile sensations are very powerful in combatting anxiety. It also serves as a distraction and redirection method. For some people they “write” letters in the air, on their pants, or on whatever surface they are touching.
- Mindfulness: At it’s core mindfulness is about being in the present moment with out judgment. It’s about acknowledging those feelings/emotions and allowing them to pass. One of the key components of mindfulness is not judging the feeling, thought, or sensation. Can you imagine how much different our lives would be if we removed the judgment?
- Self hypnosis: Self hypnosis is one of the most effective ways to combat anxiety because it’s all about relaxation. The added benefit to using self hypnosis is it’s a very effective way to reprogram your subconscious mind. How exciting is that?
- Mantras: These are just positive statements of intent. I recommend my clients use mantras such as: I am safe, I am in control. I am okay. Mantras are easy to remember and can become very powerful.
Jenn Bovee, LCSW, is a spiritual psychotherapist and life coach. Jenn offers in person as well as distance counseling and life coaching sessions. Learn more about Jenn here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com