Many of us are feeling more anxious than usual – with everything that’s going on, that is a completely normal reaction! Whether you are experiencing anxiety for the first time, or have suffered from anxiety in the past, it’s important to find some coping mechanisms that work for you.
We’ve been researching different techniques for dealing with anxiety and found 5 top coping skills that work for lots of people – and will hopefully work for you too!
Deep breathing is a really simple technique that is a great way of managing your emotions and anxiety. Not only is it effective, but it is discreet and easy to use at any place and any time!
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose, for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth for 6 seconds.
- Try and repeat this for 3 minutes, or until you feel calmer.
A powerful feeling of relaxation can be achieved by tensing and relaxing our muscles. Progressively relaxing your muscles will teach you to spot anxiety by recognising ht feelings of muscle tension. This is an excellent technique to try at home.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
Work through the list of body areas below, tensing your muscles tightly (but not straining) for each area.
Hold the tension for 10 seconds paying close attention to how this feels. Then release the tension, again noticing the difference in feeling between tension and relaxation.
- Feet: Curl your toes tightly into your feet. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax
- Calves: Point or flex your feet. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax.
- Thighs: Squeeze your thighs together tightly. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax.
- Torso: Suck in your abdomen. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax.
- Back: Squeeze your shoulders together. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax.
- Shoulders: Lift and squeeze your shoulders towards your ears. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax.
- Arms: Make fists and squeeze them towards your shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax.
- Hands: Curl your fingers into your palm and make a fist. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax.
- Face: Scrunch your facial features to the centre of your face. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax.
- Full Body: Squeeze all your muscles. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax.
When we’re feeling anxious irrational thoughts can creep in and overwhelm our mind, creating a vicious cycle as they make us feel increasingly anxious. Thoughts like “something bad is going to happen” or “I am going to do this wrong” might lack any evidence, but will still have an impact on our emotions. By examining the evidence and challenging these thoughts, you can take back control and reduce your anxiety.
Put your thoughts on trial.
- Choose a thought that is making you feel anxious.
- Gather factual evidence that supports and disproves your thought.
- Compare the evidence and determine whether your thought is rational or not.
Asking yourself these questions when you have an anxiety-inducing thought can also be helpful:
- Is this thought based on facts or feelings?
- How would my best friend see this situation?
- How likely is it that my fear will come true?
- What is most likely to happen?
- If my fear comes true, will it still matter in a week? A month? A year?
Your thoughts have immense power over how you feel. If you think about something sad, you’re more than likely to start feeling sad – however, it also works the other way round! If you think of something happy and calming, you will start to feel relaxed. This is the imagery technique and you can harness this inner super-power to reduce your anxiety.
Think about a place you find comforting – it could be absolutely anywhere! For the next 5 – 10 minutes use all your sense to imagine this place in full detail…
- Sight: What can you see around you? Look all around to take in your surroundings. Imagine the small details of what you can see.
- Sound: What sounds can you hear? Listen closely to everything around you, see if you can notice any distance sounds.
- Taste: Are you eating or drinking something pleasant? What is the flavour? How does it take? Savour all the different tastes.
- Touch: What can you feel? What is the temperature like? How does the air feel around you? How do your clothes feel on your skin?
- Smell: What can you smell? Are these scents strong or faint? Time some time to appreciate all the different smells in the air.
This is another really simple technique that you can use any time that anxiety strikes, no matter where you are!
- First, look around you and identify 5 things that you can see.
- Now identify 4 different sounds you can hear.
- Next, identify 3 things that you can feel.
- Then identify 2 things that you can smell.
- Finally, identify 1 thing that you can taste.