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  • Michelle Beaudoin

5 Ways to Get Your Anxiety Before It Gets You

Anxiety can be as unique as the person who experiences it.

When it starts to crop up, it can feel physical. Depending on your specific makeup, you might get a headache, feel like your heart is racing, have stomach issues, break out into a sweat, or feel like you’re going to pass out. Your mind may kick in with feeling like something bad is going to happen, feeling depressed, or like there’s nothing you can do to stop worrying. However you experience it, once it kicks in, anxiety can make it hard for you to do the basic things you need to do in life and may interfere with your relationships, your ability to do the things that you enjoy doing, your work, sleep, social life, etc.

Reducing anxiety and its symptoms and interferences can sometimes be successful by using various self-help strategies. Here are a few to experiment with:

1. BOX BREATHING—inhale through your nose for a count of 5, hold your breath for a count of 4, exhale through your mouth for a count of 7. Do this several times or until you notice that you are feeling calmer. One of the benefits of this strategy is that in addition to resetting your nervous system, it can be done anywhere and anytime.

2. TALK TO IT—when you notice your physical anxiety symptoms are revving up and your brain is starting to go down that old anxiety spiral, see if you can acknowledge the anxiety and ask it what it needs. Continuously checking in with yourself throughout the course of day to ask yourself what you need and following through by taking care of those things you identify, can actually prevent anxiety from flaring up and keep it at bay.

3. MOVE YOUR BODY, CHANGE YOUR MIND—sometimes simply changing environments and getting in motion can help to soothe anxious thoughts or feelings. Taking a few minutes to walk outside and connect with nature, doing a few gentle neckrolls or some stretches, even hopping up and down or going for a 5-minute walk can help you to switch gears.

4. SIP YOUR WAY SOOTHED—make a cup of hot herbal tea or drink a glass of ice-cold water with lemon. As you drink, connect to your senses—the smell of the tea or the lemon, the feel of the warmth or the cold, the sensation as it slides down your throat, and how it tastes. Does it feel soothing or refreshing? Is it relaxing you or revving you up so you can switch gears?

5. DISTRACTION—keep a list on your phone of things you can do that help you to knock anxiety down a few pegs. Some of the items on my personal list include journaling, gardening, dancing, and taking a hot bath. Then there are the quicker fixes like deep breathing, working on a crossword puzzle, or making a list of all the things I’m worried about and then shredding it.

Playing around with some of these suggestions may help you to feel like you can get a better handle on your anxiety. And if it stills seems like it is a struggle, reaching out for professional support and guidance is always an option. Sometimes anxiety is something we simply can’t “fix” on our own and talking to someone who can help us figure out solutions can help release its grip so that we can go back to doing the things we enjoy with the people we love.

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