- Nov 1
Everyone faces periods of uncertainty or unease in their life. Often, this can awaken feelings of anxiety. For most people, this natural stress response is temporary and will dissipate on its own. However, if you live with an anxiety disorder, these feelings can be strong enough to interfere with your personal or professional life.
Being able to calm yourself in moments of intense stress is a skill that can empower you when faced with anxiety. While it may take time and practice, here are five actionable steps that can help you relax your body and regain control of your thoughts:
1. PRACTICE DEEP BREATHING
Breathing is the most effective way to reduce anxiety. Deep breaths can help calm you down so you can refocus. There are many breathing exercises to try, but you don’t need anything fancy. Instead, focus on taking deep, even breaths. Inhaling and exhaling can slow you down and re-center your mind.
2. FOLLOW THE 3-3-3 RULE
Anxiety is often directed toward the future — what’s going to happen? Am I going to be okay? Instead of worrying about what’s to come, focus on the present. The 3-3-3 rule helps you concentrate on what’s happening right now. Look around and name three things you see. Then, listen for three sounds. Lastly, move three parts of your body. These simple actions can help bring you back to the present moment.
3. TRY PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION
Progressive muscle relaxation is an excellent way to release tension and relax your whole body. In this technique, you inhale and tense specific muscle groups. You then relax those muscles as you exhale. Most people work on their muscles in a specific sequence — such as hands, upper arms, shoulders, face, back, stomach, legs and so on.
Progressive muscle relaxation can be done nearly anywhere. The more you practice, the better it can help you relieve stress.
4. TALK TO SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS
Anxiety disorders can be hard to manage on your own. While many find relief speaking to a mental health professional, simply talking to a friend can also help. You undoubtedly know a few people who’ve struggled with anxiety. It can be helpful to share the feelings you’re experiencing with someone who understands. They can offer advice or just listen and empathize.
5. DO SOMETHING
If you find yourself caught in a cycle of anxious thinking, get up and go. Taking action interrupts your train of thought and can help you regain a sense of control. Remove yourself from that environment and take a break — even if it’s just for a few minutes, you can:
- Drink a glass of water.
- Go for a walk or exercise.
- Spend some time outdoors.
- Listen to music.
- Journal your thoughts.
- Eat something.
- Take a bath.
GET HELP FOR CO-OCCURRING ANXIETY AND ADDICTION
There’s no quick fix for anxiety. Yet, having ways to calm yourself can help. Sadly, many people struggling with anxiety never find healthy coping strategies. They turn to addictive substances like drugs or alcohol to quell their fears and apprehensions. This form of self-medication puts you at high risk for addiction.
If you struggle with addiction and a co-occurring anxiety disorder, treatment is available for both conditions at Gateway Foundation. Our dual diagnosis services can help you break free from the anxiety issues that may be fueling addictive behaviors. Don’t struggle with addiction and anxiety on your own. Contact Gateway Foundation today.