Anxiety is defined as… ‘a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome’ and while most people will experience some degree of it in their lives, for some it can become an all consuming feeling.
When you consider that anxiety often stems from uncertainty, it is no wonder that over the past few years, for many people, these feelings of worry have become debilitating. Although we can often intellectually understand that we can’t be certain of anything and that many of our worries are not always rational, this doesn’t prevent our minds from conjuring up stories and focusing on potential outcomes that may cause us fear or concern.
Anxiety is often made worse by an overly analytical mind that is not living in the present moment and is tending to worry about ‘what if’ situations that may arise in the future. If we can anchor ourselves ‘in the now’ when anxious thoughts strike, we can help let our nervous system know that we are OK right now, and distract our mind away from future thinking.
Here we are sharing five of our favourite instant ways to soothe and support an anxious mind…
Just this one breath.
If you feel like anxiety is beginning to take hold, and you are worrying how you will ‘get through’ it, come back to simply focusing on one breath at a time. Oftentimes anxiety and overwhelm come together hand in hand – so take a moment to consider that this breath you are breathing right now is the only thing that matters. Repeating the words ‘just this one breath’ – without changing or manipulating it – can help anchor you into the present moment, and if you do that for a few cycles, it may be enough to prevent spiraling feelings of worry.
Have a shower
When you are overthinking and ‘in your head’ a little too much you are more likely to ‘talk yourself’ into a state of anxiety. Having a shower is a very grounding practical step you can take. You can consciously focus on the feeling of the water on your skin, the smell of any products you are using, the temperature of the water – all of these things are great mindfulness practices. It can also be helpful to visualise the shower cleansing your energy of any negativity and literally washing your worries away.
Hold on to an object.
Whether it is a stone, a crystal, a pen, a piece of jewellery – or anything else you can grab – holding on to something in your hand can be really soothing when you feel anxious. It is another way of bringing yourself back to the present moment and you can describe in your mind what the object feels like. We love to hold a piece of smoky quartz, or run one of our Mala Beads through our fingers.
Engaging the senses
A wonderful way to come back to the present is by engaging all of your senses using the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique. This helps you to orientate in your surroundings and can be instantly soothing to the nervous system. When you feel anxiety creeping up, name – out loud or silently – 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Repeat this as many times as you need.
I AM mantra
This sounds so simple, but it can be really supportive in moments where you feel intense fear or anxiety taking hold. The words I AM are incredibly powerful and when you combine them with a word that helps you to feel safe and calm it can be very beneficial for anxious moments. Think about the words that will help you most such as, I AM Safe, I AM calm, I AM OK, I AM supported. Try silently repeating the words to yourself whenever you can to help them anchor in so they are easily accessed when you need them.
We hope that these tips can become part of your anxiety support tool kit. There are many therapeutic ways you can support anxiety. Counselling, CBT, Mindfulness, hypnotherapy and many other stress reduction practices can be supportive, as can medication when necessary. Please always contact your health professional if your anxiety is making a significant impact on your wellbeing.