Do you feel regularly overwhelmed? Perhaps you have to take deep breaths as you walk towards the office in the morning, just to calm the nausea that threatens to emerge? Maybe you wake up every night and struggle to get back to sleep? You could be suffering from anxiety.
These are all symptoms of anxiety. We might describe them as “low-level anxieties”, but they’re tensions that disturb your life nonetheless.
We’ve all felt them from time to time: that bubbling under of something you can’t quite define. And it’s not until you suddenly snap at a friend or colleague or family member that you realise that – just perhaps – your anxiety is getting the better of you.
Anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental health disorders in the UK. And – more saliently – it’s the disorder that most people fail to address. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to suffer their low-level anxieties for ten years before they recognise that it’s something that, perhaps, they might need to address.
This article is going to explore some of the ways in which we can stay on top of our anxieties before they become problematic and challenging to our general wellbeing.
Am I experiencing anxiety?
Anxiety manifests in many different ways and – for the most part – we can probably cope with a fair amount of stress before it begins to impact our lives negatively.
Perhaps you’ve been given extra responsibilities at work, or your kid has started to play up for no apparent reason. Whatever the source of the anxiety, we often feel like we just need to crack on and get on with it.
But anxiety – if it hasn’t already – can lead to panic attacks, and long-term stress can have a range of adverse health implications such as an increase in blood pressure, heart conditions, regular headaches, and even weaken your immune system.
So, if you’re experiencing a range of symptoms that just make you feel a bit sick or a bit wobbly on your feet or cause you to sweat and make bad decisions, then you probably need to develop some coping mechanisms to help you stay on top of your anxiety).
Coping strategies for stress
Learning to cope with stress isn’t the answer – addressing the root cause of your anxiety is the answer. But that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?
Usually, we feel like we don’t have the time, the inclination, or the scope to address the root cause of our anxiety – that’s what SupportRoom is for.
But if you’re looking for approaches that could help you deal with your anxiety symptoms until you get the chance to speak to someone, then you’re in the right place.
How to develop approaches to self-care
You might be a busy parent, taking care of your family; juggling a job with managing a household, or just running a home in itself. Or you might have a super-stressful job – and that “To Do” list just never gets any shorter.
We hear people say “I don’t have any time for me” all the time.
But a lack of time for you is probably why you’re suffering from the symptoms of anxiety – low-level or more significant.
We all need a little time to ourselves. So, if that means locking the bathroom door and spending an extra five minutes in the shower just luxuriating in the steam, then that can have immense benefits.
Some ideas for developing self-care time
Some ideas for focusing on a little self-care time:
- Find a quiet space and just sit for five minutes. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. If you can’t find a quiet area, wear headphones and listen to calming music.
- Have a bath (and lock the door).
- Watch a movie (that’s just for you).
- Check out a meditation video on YouTube. Search “guided meditation for positive energy”, choose a video that matches your available time (from 5mins +). Even if you’ve never meditated before, give it a try.
- Do some gardening – there’s something very grounding about digging, planting, and tending to your plants.
- Be silent. Switch off the radio, and let your eardrums relax. We’re constantly bombarded by sound.
- Focus entirely on what you’re doing now. Even if you’re washing up, try to immerse yourself in the activity – observe the movement of your hands through the water, feel the satisfaction of a clean plate. It sounds bonkers, but focusing on the “now” is an excellent step towards letting anxiety drift away.
Breathing techniques to reduce anxiety
Your breath is a conduit into the present moment.
Think about it: every single breath is unique – it’s happening NOW.
Each breath has a sound: learn to listen to it.
Each breath has a physiological response: learn to recognise how your lungs respond to your breathing.
Some simple breathing techniques to reduce anxiety
Here’s a simple breathing technique that can bring genuine calmness to body and mind.
- Sit upright. Using a straight-backed chair can help.
- Close your eyes (if you feel comfortable). Breathe normally and listen to the sound of your breath. Notice that the sound of the in-breath originates at the nostrils and that the sound of the out-breath originates in the throat.
- Keep listening. Listen until each individual breath becomes inaudible. Notice the moment of silence between the in-breath and the out-breath (and vice versa).
- Continue in this manner for five minutes, remaining attentive to the breath.
- Open your eyes.
If you enjoy that technique, you might want to try Bhramari pranayama. The out-breath resembles the sound of a bee.
- Start with the above technique of drawing your attention to your breath.
- Your in-breaths are going to be normal. Try to let your lungs expand passively and without resistance.
- Hum your out-breath. Choose a low-note. Hum the note until you empty your lungs.
- Breathe in normally. Then hum the out-breath.
- Continue in this way for a couple of minutes. It’s very calming.
How to exercise to release your anxiety
You might not be a fan of exercise. The idea of going to a gym might fill you with dread. But you don’t need to join the body beautiful to benefit from an exercise regime.
Take a daily walk. If you can, find some woodland and spend some time walking among the trees. Or walk around your local park.
One of the positive things to come out of the Corona-crisis has been the proliferation of online exercise classes: anything from yoga to pilates, from boxercise to Zumba. Online courses give you an excellent workout, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the latest fitness wear (because no-one else can see you).
Do something boring
Sometimes anxiety comes as a result of overstimulation. So, try doing something purposely repetitive, like doing a jigsaw or knitting or mowing the lawn.
Or find a new hobby. Check out tutor ninjas for a place to learn and develop new skills.
Asking for help to reduce your anxiety
Sometimes you just need somebody to talk to, and you might not want to tell your friends or your partner about your anxiety. Maybe you feel that to talk about it makes it more real.
As anxiety becomes embedded, we often don’t even notice it’s there. But if you’re living with anxiety, there is help available.
Digital mental health providers such as SupportRoom offer flexible workplace therapy that can be accessed anytime. This can be highly valuable, especially in times of crisis when people need someone to talk to and can help you through your anxiety.
Explore our range of experienced therapists, coaches of mentors and remember: you’ve never alone. There’s always someone who understands how you’re feeling.
How SupportRoom can help
SupportRoom is a digital, behavioural healthcare company, connecting clients with a network of licenced therapists.
Our web-based platform is easy to use and super-convenient – accessible on the web or our mobile-first platform. Our therapies and web-based services are fully HIPAA-compliant and offer 24/7 support from qualified therapists.
Access our friendly, confidential services via text, video- or voice message at any time of the day or night; from anywhere with an internet connection.