Anxiety is a feeling or state of being that a large percentage of the population experiences. It can affect your mental state and can even affect your physical state. For people who don’t know what anxiety is, anxiety is feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure. Examples of triggers for anxiety could be social gatherings, conflict of any kind, stress, and even lack of sleep.
Often, people don’t know how to control it or cope since it can be so overwhelming. It can affect work, family, friendships, and relationships. As a person who struggles with this, I searched for many years to find ways to cope with it. Dealing with anxiety can look different from person to person. Some people manage by listening to music, and some cope by taking a warm bath or shower, but the most common way to cope is by utilizing mental exercises. These exercises include breathing exercises and grounding exercises.
One exercise that is often used is the 5-4-3-2-1 breathing technique. First, you look around the space you are physically in. Then, name:
Five things you can see.
Four things you can touch.
Three things you can hear.
Two things you can smell.
One thing you can taste.
This exercise is used to help refocus your mind and ground yourself. Often anxiety makes you get caught up in your thoughts, disconnecting you from your surroundings.
When I have a bad anxiety attack, I usually experience a heavy chest pain, making me feel that I can’t fully fill my lungs when I breathe in. Other issues that follow are sweaty hands, feeling unsafe, and not being in control of the things around me. My brain will then disconnect from my surroundings to keep me from getting overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this traps me in my brain and my thoughts. That is why the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise is so beneficial to help calm the brain and slowly bring someone back into reality.
There are many other techniques I use personally that work great for me. The techniques I use include:
Asking someone for a tight hug. (Compression does wonders to regulate the nervous system)
Talking my feelings out with friends.
Using comfort items like a soft blanket or stuffed animal.
I also enjoy playing video games or watching comfort movies to calm me down. Everyone uses different ways to help relieve anxiety, so don’t ever feel weird if the methods you use to relieve your anxiety differ from others. Everyone’s brain works differently and reacts to things differently. For example, one person might use music to calm their anxiety, and it works very well. But many people get overstimulated by music when anxious, making their anxiety worse. Every brain is unique, so not everyone’s anxiety gets triggered by the same things.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma around mental health, which includes anxiety. Frequently stigma comes from a lack of understanding and negative attitudes. Due to this stigma, many people are reluctant to find help for their anxiety or even to help themselves. This can be caused by family members, friends, or even coworkers having a negative outlook on mental health, but this should not stop you for doing what is best for yourself. You can break the cycle and proactively seek help and understanding.
When you are a person who struggles with anxiety, finding ways to cope with it is essential to the quality of life. So, when you are having those days when you are anxious, try using grounding methods or exercises to get you back to a calm state of mind. Many people experience anxiety, so you are not alone! You are not a bother or a burden. You are human.