• Amanda Smyth, LCSW

Anxiety Busters


We can often feel swept away by our anxiety. Below is a list of short-term strategies to help deal with episodes of anxiety, just pick one to start with. It is also beneficial to identify and change behaviors that reinforce stress or anxiety.


Counted Breathing

Inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and exhale for 7 seconds. Allowing yourself to exhale longer allows your body to recognize that it is no longer in survival mode and safe to rest.


Rainbow Grounding:

  • Focus on something Red, focus on it while you bring your hands from a prayer position in front of your chest to over your head breathing in deeply, then out to the sides as you exhale slowly = Rainbow Breath.

  • Focus on something Orange & Rainbow Breathe

  • Focus on something Yellow & Rainbow Breathe

  • Focus on something Green & Rainbow Breathe

  • Focus on something Blue & Rainbow Breathe

  • Focus on something Purple & Rainbow Breathe

This technique helps you focus on real things right in front of you, removing focus from your trigger. If you are not someplace you can rainbow breathe, find 4 things of each color while taking slow deliberate breaths.


Journaling

Set a timer for two to five minutes. During that time, write what comes to mind. When the timer goes off, stop writing. If the thoughts are still distressing, spend 2 minutes questioning those thoughts. Getting your thoughts onto paper helps get the thoughts out of your head. This journaling technique may be beneficial for people who overthink at night and have trouble sleeping.


Questioning Your Thoughts

If you’re dealing with distressing thoughts, do some Fact Finding:

  • Do I have any evidence for this thought? When we get back to the root of our anxiety, we realize that there’s no evidence that what we’re worried about will come true.

  • What is the worst-case scenario? It can be helpful to identify when we’re focusing on the worst-case scenario instead of the more likely scenarios.

  • Is it possible or probable? What’s the likelihood of this thought coming true? It is true almost anything can happen, but worrying about unlikely outcomes creates more anxiety.

  • What has worked in the past? Remembering skills we already have to combat our thoughts and anxiety is helpful as we often forget we are equipped to cope.


Practice Meditation to boost your mood and feel more calm throughout your day (it can be for just 2 minutes!)

Practicing meditation can be a great way to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. You can find meditation videos on YouTube, the Calm App, the Headspace App, of other free Mindfulness Apps. You can also try to hum to yourself in the sound of Om. No need to empty your mind when meditating! Observe your thoughts and let them pass rather than continuing to think about them.


Make Positive Lifestyle Changes

  • Getting enough continuous sleep helps your body reach deep sleep, restoring the part of our brain that regulates emotions and therefore preventing the escalation of anxiety. Make sure you get between 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

  • Your physical health can have a direct impact on your mental health. Drink water throughout the day and make sure to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. By taking care of your body, you can improve your overall well-being. The gut-brain connection is strong and affects our mood.

  • Caffeine can give you a short-term boost of energy, but it also stimulates your body’s fight or flight response, making your anxiety worse and even triggering anxiety attacks. If possible, try to cut back on your caffeine intake or stop drinking caffeinated beverages altogether.

  • Move your body for 30 minutes daily. Moving your body and getting exercise can help release feel-good endorphins and other natural brain chemicals that enhance your overall well-being. It can also help take your mind off your worries and break the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety.

  • Minimize screen time


If your anxiety is interfering with your daily life, meaning it’s causing you to avoid events in your day or causes stress in your relationships, seeking therapeutic help is recommended.



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