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Anxiety and Self Care Techniques

Anxiety is a body as well as a mind-based experience.


Often, to calm our over aroused nervous system, we need to attend to our bodies first. Self-soothing or ‘regulation’ is a great place to start.


We can’t live without anxiety or fear as it’s hard wired into us for our survival, but we can learn how to work with, and manage our distress through self-care and compassion, until our anxiety starts to settle.


lady at desk looking anxious

Grounding techniques:

5.4.3.2.1 exercise


Take a moment to get still and seated. Take two long releasing breaths.


  • 5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. ...

  • 4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. ...

  • 3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. ...

  • 2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. ...

  • 1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste


For panic attacks try:


  • Sucking an ice cube or a slice of lemon

  • Biting an apple

  • Flicking yourself with an elastic band

  • Put your hands in cold water

  • Pick up something you can touch near you or get a stress ball you can pick up and keep squeezing on and off



Breathing:

7/11 breathing – Slowly change your breath pattern by breathing in for 7 breaths and then out for 11. (You may need to do 3/5 then 5/7 first) so that we can sit and have a longer outbreath.


Doing 60 7/11 breaths will move us out of the sympathetic system (ANS system) to the parasympathetic system and we feel calmer.


If breath is a problem because of panic, try using a grounding technique above first.


Other resources:


  • Headspace App

  • Calm App

  • Listening to anti anxiety frequencies on spotify



Journaling:

Journaling can be a great way to connect with ourselves and quite literally take thoughts out of our head on to paper.


Getting a journal and using it daily, or as and when, can offer the opportunity for reflection. This activity is ‘mindful’. In the moment.


There is no right or wrong or a way to journal, simply write whatever is on your mind or what you are feeling. Use it as your space to write anything, completely uncensored about what is going on for you.


Some days it may be more positive, other days it may be your distress, worries, anxieties, sadness etc.


It can be helpful too if you struggle to sleep or find yourself ‘stuck’ in your head. The act of writing helps validate your experience and form a release, whilst giving the opportunity to look back on your writing and be curious about behavioural patterns, thought patterns, feelings, and relationships.


If journaling gets you thinking more, stop – its intention is to let your thoughts go on to paper and leave them there or sooth you, not trigger you.



Essential oils:

Our senses are a powerful tool and can often trigger emotions and feelings within our bodies, something that essential oils can also benefit.


Oils in the bath, inhaling oils, or in oil burners can also be a great way to soothe via our senses.


A mixture of neroli, geranium and clary sage work well together in the bath – soak for around 20 minutes. This often helps with sleep too. Adding magnesium (Epsom salts) can also aid sleep.


Below is a link for further information on oils, their uses and a guide:




Movement:

  • Going for a walk

  • Bike ride

  • Yoga

  • Qi gong

  • Pilates

  • Swimming

  • Jog or run



Exercise is a scientifically proven mood booster.


What people can sometimes believe is that “exercise’ only means doing something intense such as a run, gym session etc. This is not the case.


ALL movement can contribute to reducing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, it also stimulates the production of endorphins – the body’s natural pain killers and mood elevators.


Each day try to do one thing that gets you moving.



Human contact:

Being held is a good way of regulating the nervous system. If you feel you can ask a loved one for a hug, this can be helpful. We can also hug ourselves by placing our arms around ourselves or try placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your tummy and taking some slow breaths.


Wrapping yourself in a blanket is another way of comforting and regulating ourselves.




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