Anxiety is notorious for feeding off of our uneasiness and fears. It tends to catastrophize the past and/or future events, leaving us with an out-of-control experience that is disconnected from the present moment. The key to combating debilitating anxiety is to use methods and means that help connect us in the here-and-now versus future/past thinking.
Treating anxiety should not be confused with curing anxiety. Anxiety has is a biological component to our survival as a species. It is impossible to rid our bodies and minds of it; however, it can be managed in a way that is safe, healthy and experienced without debilitation. There are psychological and behavioral ways to reduce anxiety that anyone can access at any time. And the best part – there are no side effects to using any of these methods! Here are three tips to help:
Unplug from social media and the internet
I know what you are thinking, “How would I read these tips if I weren’t on the internet?” Fair point. However, when someone is in an anxious state of mind, prolonged exposure to the internet can actually increase that anxiety. Avoid negative Facebook postings or news stories for a minimum of 24 hours. Or if you truly need exposure to political news or the latest Kardashian drama, check the headlines in the morning and shut it down for the rest of the day.
Engage in human touch
A 2011 article on CNN.com reported that simply holding hands with someone can produce a calming response. Whether it is holding hands with someone, a massage, or just a plain ol’ hug, the act of a simple touch “can lower blood pressure and heart rate…not to mention, make your happier and less anxious.” If you need a “simple touch” when no one is around, massaging your own hands and wrists can be an effective way to reduce tension and anxiety.
Create a gratitude practice
Another way to reconnect with the present moment is to engage in a daily Gratitude Practice. Writing out lists of what and who we are grateful for NOW can help ground us in the present. Engaging in daily prayers or meditation with a focus on gratitude can also help manage anxiety in the moment.
Should your anxiety persistent and become unmanageable, consider speaking with a therapist at Wyoming Center for Clinical Excellence for additional ways to help manage it.
Brian Edwards, LMFT, CATC, is a co-founder of the Wyoming Center for Clinical Excellence in Gillette, Wyoming. Brian specializes in trauma, group counseling, marriage and family therapy and substance abuse and addiction therapy.