Anxiety & How To Destroy It: Simple Skills that Can Make a Difference
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely you’re old enough to have had a chance to run across one of my favorite book series as a kid, The Little Golden Books.
These books were short (kid-oriented) readers that covered a variety of topics, from classics like The Poky Little Puppy to more modern subjects like The Bee Gees or Oprah. No matter the focus of the story, it was always a brief, concise little story that taught a lesson or shared a life hint.
A quick search revealed there are 746 titles in the series. But none of them had the one title that would probably become an overnight bestseller: “Anxiety & How To Destroy It”.
So many people across every generation would line up for that book. It’d be downloaded faster than the latest superhero movie and everyone would celebrate the information contained, however, we know this isn’t possible.
I’ve sat across many counseling suites in various offices and heard “I want to get rid of my anxiety completely”. Again, I love the specific and measurable nature of the goal, but it’s not attainable. While reducing anxiety to a manageable level is possible, it does take some trial and effort to see what works best for you.
Luckily for you, you’re already aware of your anxiety and may be on to a few of the causes, so that gives you a leg up on overcoming this feeling.
Everyone breathes and we all know it. Just like that other kids' book that points out we all share common bodily functions, it’s good to know that just like breathing and bathroom trips, all people also have anxiety at one point or another.
Once you catch that your anxiety is sneaking up (or has lept on you like a spider monkey), taking some deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth is a great place to start. Many people attribute breathing through your nose as an easy way to avoid hyperventilating, however, there’s a lot more science to it as well.
Next time you see a video of a professional athlete, they’re all breathing through their noses as they perform. This is because your nose is attached to your sinuses, and no matter how full of West Texas dust, it’s still a humid and temperature-controlled environment that helps your lungs get air at just the right concentration and conditions that help you perform at your best.
Taking a breath for 4 seconds, holding it for 4 seconds, exhaling for 4 seconds, and holding for 4 seconds is a popular method called box breathing. Other people find that following the suggestions of a smartwatch or phone app to be easier to visualize when to breathe in and out. For an added effect for people who really like to practice their breathing intentionally, visualizing your heart beating in your chest and focusing on it slowing down has been known to allow you to consciously take control of your heart rate and slow it by 5% to 10%.
You may have also heard of grounding exercises. They’ve become popular and there’s a variety of ways to approach it. The idea is to “be where your feet are at” which in short, is to stop worrying or focusing on something that isn’t at hand and to be present where you’re at.
One way I really enjoy approaching this is to use your five senses. First, take note of any smells you notice (or think of the last smell you remember smelling). Second, do you taste anything currently? If not, what was the last taste you tasted? What was it like?
Third, take note of EVERYTHING you can hear. Not just the obvious traffic noise, or the clock, or the air conditioner, or the dog barking, really seek out every sound you can take note of. Fourth, look at the light in the space you’re in. Is it bright or dim? White light or more warm yellow? Finally, take note of how the couch/chair/seat feels beneath you. If you’re standing, how does the ground feel beneath your feet? How do your feet feel in your shoes?
The importance of taking note of how you’re feeling breaks that storyline that has been running in your mind. The more you can qualify and take note of each sense, the more effective you’ll be at breaking the spiral in your mind. If after trying and practicing a few techniques, you find that your anxiety is still appearing and playing a larger role in your life’s story than you’d like, then give us a call. At Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, TX, we specialize in helping people, just like you, manage their symptoms of anxiety. Getting rid of all anxiety forever isn’t an option, but instead of waiting on that future Little Golden Book to come out, you can begin to rewrite the role anxiety has in life. At Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, TX, we specialize in helping men cultivate the skills needed to overcome anxiety. One phone call could be the difference in your life.
Learn more about the Anxiety Counseling services we offer.
Contact us to schedule an appointment or to let us answer any questions you may have.