This post was written by a guest author.
Feeling ‘wired,’ stressed out, or just plain frantic? Those symptoms of anxiety can make you feel like a lab rat on a treadmill. They disrupt your sleep, spoil your day and can seem overwhelming. If you keep trying to focus on the reasons behind your symptoms, it’s often a losing battle — it’s not what’s happening to you that raises your anxiety, but how you react to it. Here’s how you can help yourself and relieve anxiety and stress.
Relieve Anxiety, Tension, and Stress with These Techniques
The ‘Don’t Listen’ Technique
Worry is a habit that affects your body. You can develop physical symptoms like headaches, grind your teeth until your jaw hurts, or develop ulcers. As you worry, your brain floods with neurotransmitters — chemicals that affect you physically and mentally. You can change the process with the ‘don’t listen’ cue. Remember, as a child, how you covered your ears and said “La, la, la” when you didn’t want to hear what a sibling or classmate was saying? The don’t listen technique is similar; your brain can’t listen to two messages at a time. As soon as you hear the siren call that tells you to worry, you say to yourself: “My anxious brain is getting all worried again; time to deep breathe.” Relaxation breathing — slow deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth — will stop the physical symptoms of worry and get your brain back on track.
When Anxiety is Really Anger
Sometimes anxiety can trigger anger, or can mask angry feelings that you are afraid to express. You can feel angry without expressing it, however. Try this exercise: when anxiety strikes, sit down and answer the question, “What might I be angry about if this anxiety is really anger?” You need not go into great detail; brief answers of a few words are sufficient. The answers may give you some insight into the connection between your anxiety and your anger. In addition, the exercise gets your mind off the anxiety treadmill and on to another line of thinking. Once the door is open, you can think about how to handle the situations that make you angry and develop new strategies to deal with them.
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Play Your Anxiety Away
Laughter is a wonderful way to discharge tension. People who make a career out of worry and tension just stress themselves out. Keep some funny reading material or comedy videos on hand. When you feel yourself start to tense, distract yourself with a joke. Learn to play — by yourself, with kids, or with another adult. How did you have fun when you were younger? Try to recapture that lighthearted child and feel the tension and stress in your life melt away.
The New You
Think of these techniques as a tension toolbox. Like all tools, they must be used regularly to be effective. Practice them at least once a day. As they become habitual, you should find yourself more relaxed and happier.