Are you feeling anxious right now? If not now, did you feel anxiety rising recently or expect it to hit you soon? Maybe it’s a sudden overwhelming feeling or something you’ve been trying to ignore for a while but it’s persistent and not backing down too easily.
Anxiety can be healthy, signaling you that maybe that alley is not a good one to stroll down or that crowded room could be too much of a sensory overload, but at other times it can keep you from feeling grounded, keep you worried about things out of your control, or tell you that you can’t handle your life. If you’re feeling anxious today, tomorrow, or any time down the road – here are five things to do in those moments.
Acknowledge that you are feeling anxious or that you’re in distress.
When you’re feeling anxious, it’s the perfect time to acknowledge that! This could look like a simple “wow, I am feeling anxious/stressed/overwhelmed” in the mirror to yourself. If you are around others you feel comfortable with, let them know that you are feeling anxious because the last thing we should be doing is ignoring these feelings! Not every moment feels like the appropriate time to stop all work or find a quiet place but taking the moment to recognize your feeling will benefit you in the long run.
Breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly.
Breathing is essential! Focusing on your breath for as long as you need will help cool you down, ease the racing thoughts, and give you some quick relief. Find a quiet space, get comfortable, and try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth in a slow rhythm for at least three cycles. This may help rid you of situational anxiety or panic, although we learn it isn’t always so easy, and give you some space to begin recollecting your thoughts more coherently.
Bonus, doing this every day will help you gain more control and awareness around your breathing.
Disrupt the feeling by taking a walk or doing an activity you enjoy.
Taking time to walk away, can be literally, can help you get the distance you need to regroup. You don’t have to take everything head-on when it gets too overwhelming. Working on puzzle, writing, trying out guided meditation, and spending some time with your pets are all healthy ways to take a break from the stress without ignoring it – instead, you’re allowing yourself to reset and refocus so that when you’re ready you can tackle the anxiety and make changes.
When in a better place, try to recall and recognize those potential triggers or stressors.
Once you’ve had the opportunity to put some distance between you and your anxiety, it’s important to double back. This doesn’t sound fun, I know, but it’s an essential step to figuring out where those triggers are and how to approach them differently. If you’re overwhelmed with work or school, you won’t be able to avoid those much, but you can figure out how to best approach them with your mental health in mind. If a certain event, person, or situation causes your anxiety to rise, you can begin to unravel the why behind it and where you may need to make changes. The key here is to not ignore your anxiety, as this only makes it stronger and you less happy.
Reach out to a friend, family member, or a professional to work through your anxiety.
If it’s all feeling like too much, reach out! This can look like a friend who listens well or a family member who always has your back. For many people, community and culture can be the very thing to help ground you. Additionally, you can seek out professional services! Professionals like therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists can help you identify your triggers, help you find the meaning behind them, and give you the tools to take them on.
Anxiety is never a one-off situation and shouldn’t be ignored. If acknowledged and addressed, in a safe and open space, it will begin to feel manageable. Next time you are feeling anxious, try these tips, and begin finding new tools that work for you as everyone has different needs!