It seems like everywhere we turn, there's more suffering, more trauma, more tragedy and stress and hate showing up in the world. It's enough to turn even the most stable, grounded people into an anxious mess.
In my Facebook feed and my client conversations, I've been hearing a lot about struggles with stress management, anxiety and panic attacks, so I pulled out this training on my top three strategies and tools for reducing anxiety and coping with panic attacks, naturally. Remember, you have tremendous guidance and support available to you at all times - all you have to do is remember how to tap into it.
Watch the video for my three strategies and techniques you can apply in your day-to-day life, or keep reading below.
How to Cope with Anxiety:
- Meditate + Breathe: your mind is an incredibly powerful machine, and your breath is an amazing tool or cultivating mindfulness, peace and surrender. Use these tools anytime you're on the verge of freaking out - these are great because you can use them literally anywhere!
- 4-7 breath: breathing in and out through your nose, start breathing all the way to the base of your spine, feeling the belly inflate as you breathe in, and soften as you breathe out. After a few rounds of breath like that, start to add a count to inhales and exhales. Breathe in to a count of 4, then out to a count of 7. Making your exhale longer than your inhale reduces the fight or flight response in the brain by activating your parasympathetic (or rest and digest) nervous system. Think of this as the opposite of hyperventilating.
- Calm Breathe Tool: download the free Calm meditation app on your phone, and pull it out anytime you feel anxiety starting to take over. Pull up the Breathe part of the app, and use the guided visual to help you reconnect to your breath, which in turn slows down the heart rate and tells the body it's safe to relax.
- Guided Meditations: if you're calm enough to close your eyes and sit for a few minutes, listen to the guided relaxation meditation in the Well Soul Collective, or download Insight Timer onto your phone and pick a relaxing guided meditation. Meditating helps you tune back into the present moment, and anxiety cannot exist when you're truly present.
- Get in Your Body: one of the incredible things about our bodies is that they only exist in the present moment. That's why they're such great tools for creating mindfulness - our bodies don't exist in the past or the present! By focusing on physical sensations, you let your mind relax a little and can focus on the only thing you can control: how you feel right now, in this moment.
- Body Scan Meditation: meditation is one of my all time favorite tools, and I truly believe it can be of service in just about any challenging situation. To get you grounded in your body, I'm gifting you my free body scan meditation - normally only accessible to Well Soul Collective members - download it here!
- Get Physical: get on your yoga mat, or if you're pressed for time, power through some jumping jacks or burpees, then hold a plank for as long as you can - try for at least a minute! These actions will help you get grounded into your physical body, which only exists in the present moment. Anxiety and stress are inherently emotions that come from worrying about the past or the future, so by tapping into the present moment, we reduce those feelings of tension.
- Write + Release: there's no use in keeping our feelings trapped inside - they'll come out some way or other, and it's best to take control of your life and honor your feelings in the moment, if you have the space for it. Try on of my favorite free writing exercises to start releasing your fear and anxiety.
- Let it Out: as I'm sure you know, holding onto your feelings and pushing through them only works in the short term - eventually, we have to feel the feelings and get them out. To do that, one of my favorite tools is a simple brain dump. Pull out a piece of paper and start writing. Don't edit, don't censor yourself, don't worry about punctuation or grammar. Just write. Write out all of your fears, write about what's making you angry or sad or upset or anxious. Write about your stressors, about the things in life that aren't going your way. Write until you've gotten it all out, then light that paper on fire. Or, if you're somewhere where fire isn't totally feasible (chilling at the office, perhaps), then tear that paper into a thousand little pieces. With every tear, feel those feelings, those fears releasing and coming out of your body. Feel yourself releasing that attachment to those feelings, and returning to your natural state - which is peaceful, tranquil and filled with love.
When you use these techniques together, they create an incredible trifecta to ward off anxiety and give you control over how you feel in every moment. These tools help you return to your natural state, and to stay calm and grounded, even amidst the most tumultuous situations.
I'd love to know which of these tools speaks to you most - and how things go when you start using them! Please share your thoughts and stories in the comments.