How to cope with anxiety
Anxiety gets the best of us all sometimes, especially given how insane life has been for everyone lately. You probably know the telltale signs: racing heart, sweaty palms, feeling on edge or nervous, believing something is wrong or will soon go wrong—even when things are actually okay. When we start spinning out, it can be tough to relax, reset and come back down to earth. Here are a few easy ways to reconnect to your calm center, flood your body with the good endorphins and instantly feel better.
1. Get rid of tension
There are several quick ways to release pent up energy and stress that feels trapped in your body. Start by fluttering your lips—a movement that’s a mix of a sigh and a small vibration of your mouth—to instantly relax tension in your whole face and jaw. Or take in a big breath and let it out audibly with a long “ahhhhhh.” The louder you do this, the better it will feel. Repeat a few times and notice how it helps you let go of some of the stress you might be holding in. There are also meridian points on the body that release anxiety just by tapping on them. The most effective spot is your chest, where we hold in a lot of our tension. Lie back and tap lightly with your fingers in a steady and rhythmic motion and it will send calming signals through your whole body. The same goes for your temples, wrists and forehead—simply tap out that tension.
2. Get grounded
It might sound strange, but the earth itself is a soothing place to literally plant our feet. We lose our connection to it because we’re constantly walking on concrete, or putting shoes between us and the ground. It’s a commonly held belief that simply sitting or standing with your feet in the grass or the soil—sometimes called grounding or earthing—has healing properties to it, because electrical charges from the earth have positive effects on your body. Plus, sensory, tactile things have been proven to reduce stress—like the feel of the grass between your toes, or the coolness of the soil. So kick off your shoes and take a spin around the yard barefoot, or head to the park and lie back in the grass for a while and daydream.
3. Get playful
Take it from kids—there’s something about momentary silliness that, as it turns out, also solves all manner of adult problems. More and more research is being done about the positive effects of play on people of all ages. It evokes laughter, sends your endorphins through the roof, and helps shake out extra stress you may be carrying around. And it’s easy. Jump on a swing set and pump your legs. Steal your niece’s crayons and go to town on some paper. Buy a jump rope. Skip down an empty street. Crank up a guilty pleasure song and have a solo dance party in your living room. Sing off key and do it loudly and unabashedly. Lose yourself in something that feels good, and the effects will stay with you all day.
Practice is key
The first step to getting rid of anxiety is simply just noticing it. Scan your body and try to find where you might be clenching (your hands, your jaw) or tensing (your shoulders, your forehead). From there, you can try one (or all) of these tactics to alleviate those out-of-control feelings. Taking control of your body and calming your mind is a powerful thing—and the more you practice it, the more it becomes something you can do on autopilot. Also? Don’t feel the need to wait until you’re already anxious to practice these tricks—each one is amazing at stopping anxiety before it even starts.