Anxiety and stress can affect any of us at any time. It’s part of being human, and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or that you’re a weak person. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that or make you feel bad about experiencing stress or anxiety.
These techniques are meant to help occasionally and in the short term, so if you find yourself getting to a point where anxiety starts to seriously overwhelm, affect and interfere with your life, then I strongly recommend seeking help from a mental health professional and discussing all options available to you, including but not limited to talk therapy, ongoing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or medication.
In the meantime, here are a few solutions that I’ve found effective for helping to manage occasional stress and anxiety, and I very much hope they’re able to help you as well. Share this post with someone you care about if they could use some quick solutions as well.
The 4-7-8 breathing method
This is one of my favorite and most reliable ways to bring about some calm because you can do it almost anytime, even if you’re moving around. Because let’s face it, when stress or anxiety hits it isn’t always possible to drop everything you’re doing right then and there.
The basic technique goes as follows:
Count to 4 breathing in through your nose
Hold to a count of 7
Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 8
While the specific length of the breaths isn’t as important, the ratio is what matters.
Ideally this accomplishes the most if you’re able to take a few moments and be still, but again, it can be effective for calming even if you aren’t able to get a few moments of stillness.
Here’s a short video that can help you visualize the technique:
This can be one of the easiest fixes to practice, especially at home. The post I linked to includes free or inexpensive examples such as puzzles, drawing or coloring books. Other options are self-care classics such as taking a warm bath or shower, doing a beauty ritual that you enjoy such as a face mask, go for a walk or light a scented candle and have a glass of your favorite wine or non-caffeinated tea.
Sometimes taking care of yourself is as much about what you don’t do as it is about what you do. For example, if the news is currently stressing you out, strictly limit reading or watching it to a short amount of time daily (such as 15 minutes) or even a few days a week. This way you stay informed without triggering additional stress.
Another option is to avoid checking your email and social media for at least an hour after waking up. Use this time to practice self-care, exercise or meditate. Even if you have a jam-packed schedule, it can often be worth it to try waking up earlier to accomplish this, as it sets up the rest of your day to be calmer and you can forge ahead with what you need to do with a clearer mind.
Have something to squeeze or keep anxious hands busy
Ideal for stress and fidgets, this oversized glob ball that comes in 3 colors has a soft texture you can knead, pull, throw and squish. Strong and durable, it won’t break open and its responsive material always returns to the original shape.
Call or text a trusted friend
While it’s not quite a substitute for therapy, just venting for a bit to someone who gets you can work wonders in the short term.
Listen to music that makes you happy
If you’re able to, you might as well dance and sing along to it for an extra endorphin boost.
Do some yoga
This doesn’t have to mean putting on your full yoga outfit and busting out a matching mat for it to work. Sometimes just doing a few quick vinyasa flows or yoga stretches with deep breathing can have an immediate soothing effect. If you have a little more time, try these short but effective sequences for calming and see which one is most effective for you.
I hope these ideas and techniques help you as they’ve helped me. Which of these do you like to minimize your stress and anxiety? Anything you like to do that I’ve left out? Let me know below in the comments!