If you’re someone who suffers from anxiety, you can often feel hopeless and frustrated in the search for effective treatments. Conflicting advice, strong opinions and the abundance of misinformation make it difficult to know what to do to relieve your anxiety.
While there are a number of pharmaceutical interventions that you can turn to, none are without side effects, and none offer a natural, healthy solution that acts immediately to alter your anxious state.
You can suffer from anxiety for a number of reasons. Anxiety covers a large spectrum of issues from those who suffer from panic attacks and obsessive thoughts to those who hyper-focus on potentially negative scenarios and outcomes.
There is a range of effective strategies that you can use to help you when anxiety strikes and begins to snowball. Many of these techniques can help you reach a calm, anxiety-free state.
5 Ways to Relieve Anxiety – Tried and Tested Mental Tools and Techniques
Many tools and techniques exist that can be used to nip anxiety in the bud or reel it in and make it more manageable. Below are healthy, effective ways to relieve anxiety using mental techniques.
1. Understand What Your Mind Is Doing
Panic attacks can make your brain play tricks on you. When you’re in a hyper-anxious state and are becoming overwhelmed, your mind will attempt to wreak havoc on your senses and create hyperbolic, high-stress scenarios that your body may start to believe.
If you can, remind yourself that your mind is attempting to trick you. You may not be having the physiological reaction that you think you are. Having this awareness can help to calm you and reassure you that you are able to get through this period of high anxiety.
2. Acceptance and Observation Without Judgment
Marla W. Dybler, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of the Psych Central Blog Therapy That Works, has an important reminder: “Anxiety is just a feeling.” Like any other emotion or sensation, anxiety is a reaction that will pass in time. Acknowledging this puts the power back in your hands, as you know that this is a feeling that you can survive and get through.
Having the ability to take an objective stance on your anxiety – without being hard on yourself and falling into negative feedback loops – allows you to accept your situation. At this moment in time, you are experiencing anxiety, but it is tolerable and will pass. Being able to do this can help you to eradicate feelings of hopelessness that can compound and worsen your anxious state.
3. Breathing Techniques
Not only does focusing on your breathing help to centre you in the present, but it also has a physiological effect on your mental state. By slowing your breathing and commanding deep, long breaths from the diaphragm, you move your body from a “flight or fight” state to one of relaxation. It’s a technique taught to soldiers and athletes around the world and has been tried and tested in incredibly high-stress situations.
This is the first method to use when trying to bring your anxiety under control. Inhale slowly to a count of 4, fill your thorax and torso, and hold your breath for a further count of 4 before exhaling slowly and repeating. Increasing the count and focusing on the numbers as you centre your thoughts on your breathing is another effective tactic that will help to calm your thoughts.
4. Meditation & Positive Visualisation
If you have never practised meditation before, this may be a little bit out of your comfort zone at first. However, regularly practising meditation improves your ability to cope when your mind overwhelms you and seems to be out of control.
While regular practice will give you the ability to tap into this skill when you need it most, calming, relaxed visualisation can also aid you if you have never practised meditation before. Focusing on images, moments and ideas that are calming and assiging your negative worries and emotions to them can be very powerful.
For example, visualising passing clouds or a gentle stream and assigning your anxious emotions to these visual elements allows you to let them float away from you and out of your current frame of mind.
5. Logical Interruptions
Your brain is an incredibly powerful tool. You can do incredible things with your mind. This can play against us when we’re feeling particularly anxious. At these times, it might feel like your brain is working overtime to come up with worst-case scenarios, tricking you into believing that they are an accurate representation of reality.
When you’re trying to break out of these dangerous, frustrating cycles, it may help to ask yourself a series of questions that will interrupt these patterns and force you to apply logic and past experience in a realistic way. Ask yourself questions like…
- How likely is this to happen?
- Is the worst-case scenario really so bad?
- If the worst happens, can I handle that situation?
- Is this an accurate reflection of reality, or does it simply feel that way right now?
- If something negative does happen, does that really mean anything about who I am as a person?
- What steps can I take right now to prepare for what happens next?
- Even if the situation goes wrong, so what? What are the real world implications?
What If These Techniques Aren’t Enough?
Working through these techniques will give you a set of skills and methods that you can use when you begin to feel anxious. While they are effective in the majority of situations – at least in bettering the situation if not halting anxiety in its tracks – many people feel the need to turn to pharmaceutical interventions to supplement these techniques.
Prescription drugs may work for some, but they do come with their drawbacks. Many of these drugs are addictive and come with numerous side-effects that can adversely affect your body and mind with long-term use. Dependency is another dangerous factor if these unnatural drugs are used as a crutch over a long period of time.
Combining the use of natural supplements with the traditional techniques discussed in this article can bring you powerful, effective relief when all else seems hopeless and frustrating. These techniques don’t come with nasty side-effects or force you to run the risk of addiction. Instead, they provide you with positive, empowering tools that help you to relieve your anxiety and stress through traditional tools that have been successful time and time again.
Do you have any techniques or tips for managing anxiety successfully? Do you have a go-to calming visualisation? Let us know in the comments below if you’ve put these methods to good use – we’d love to hear from you!