Anxiety can impact your ability to live, work, and enjoy your life. Fortunately, there are some things anyone can do to help rein in their anxiety and calm a racing mind. Below, therapist Sondra Sexton-Jones in Juneau, Alaska, discusses three ways to cope with anxiety and panic issues.
3 Ways to Cope With Anxiety
Mindfulness meditation is scientifically proven to decrease anxiety. Regular practice is best for staving off anxious thought patterns, but even in the grip of an attack, you can still benefit from mindfulness practices. Sit comfortably, breathe deeply and slowly, and take a big mental step back from the thoughts speeding through your brain. You want to become an observer of what's happening inside your head. As you watch your thoughts, don't become attached to them; simply let them come up, and then fall away. This simple practice can anchor a churning mind and restore calm.
2. Do Breathing Exercises
While meditation utilizes the breath as a way to secure the body and mind, specific breathing exercises can achieve the same calming results. These exercises involve focusing one's thoughts squarely on the in and out breath. Take a long, slow inhalation; hold it to the count of three, and then let it out in a long, slow exhalation. Try to always inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. As you settle into this cycle, your body and brain will likely relax and allow you to take longer and slower breaths, inviting even more serenity.
3. Engage in Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a combination of both meditation and breathing exercise. Lay down in a spot where you can get comfortable, and focus on your feet. Take a deep breath in, hold it, and tense up all the muscles in your feet for a few seconds. Breathe out and release the tension. Now, do the same to your legs: Breathe in, tense your leg muscles for a few seconds, and breathe out. Do this with every muscle group as you move up your entire body. With every out-breath, visualize your body relaxing completely. Go slowly, and take your time to really feel the tension of the contraction and the relief of the expansion.
The above tips can provide relief in even the scariest anxiety situation. If you need some help mastering these exercises, or you just require additional support, let Sondra Sexton-Jones help. She offers individual therapy and couples and family counseling to area clients. Call (907) 586-3313, visit her online, or send her a message on Facebook or Google+ to schedule an appointment.