Whether it’s a full-on panic attack, nervousness in social situations, or sweaty palms that you just can’t shake, know that you’re not alone when it comes to experiencing anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some 40 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, making it the most common form of mental illness in the U.S.
While some level of anxiety is perfectly normal to experience, like a pitter-pattering heartbeat when prepping for a date with that someone special, or uneasiness when gearing up for a job interview, extraordinarily high levels of anxiety that interferes with your everyday life is when it might be time to consult with a medical professional.
Whether it’s normal anxiety or excessive anxiety, taking time in your day to calm your nerves and reflect on your thoughts can help immensely. Here are five basic anxiety-reducing exercises to consider adding into your daily routine.
1. Address distressing thoughts and emotions
Anxiety can present itself in a number of ways depending on the person and situation, but one common signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is thoughts that run together in an endless stream of worry. If you find your anxiety spiraling out of control, take a minute to address the thoughts and emotions running through your mind.
With practice, people can often come to the realization they’re having irrational thoughts, and with more practice, can begin to question these thoughts. Consider resources such as “Mind Over Mood,” a book often used in cognitive behavior therapy that shows how accepting, addressing and questioning irrational thoughts can result in anxiety relief and more control over thoughts.
2. Breathe easier with guided exercises and deep breaths
It’s hard to tell when anxiety might sneak up on you – it may be in the grocery store when you have your hands full, in a crowded classroom, or while traveling on a plane. What’s one exercise you can always do without needing any special equipment? Breathing exercises.
Publications ranging from TIME to Psychology Today have outlined easy breathing exercises that can lead to decreased anxiety and lowered heart rates. There are a variety of breath-based exercises, but perhaps the most simple is to push away other thoughts, close your eyes (helpful but not required), and focus on breathing in and breathing out, in and out, in and out.
3. Visualize yourself in your “happy place”
As long as you have your eyes closed, try another anxiety-reducing tactic by using the power of imagination. It could be memories of lying in a peaceful meadow, cuddling with your best furry friend or walking a tranquil beach – whatever your “happy place” is, visualize yourself there and feel anxiety melt away.
4. Take a moment to pamper yourself – even if it’s doing something small
Oftentimes with depression, anxiety, or other disorders, it can be easy to forget to take care of the most important person there is – yourself. Stave away bad moods by taking a moment for yourself, whether it’s taking a calming walk, reading your favorite book, taking a relaxing bath, tuning out for a moment by indulging in a guilty pleasure TV show, or savoring a piece of chocolate.
5. Consider group therapy or personalized treatment
General anxiety disorders are common, and depending on your specific circumstance, some anxiety issues can be kept under wraps with a toolbox complete with anxiety-reducing exercises such as the above.
For a more involved, personalized evaluations and therapy sessions, along with treatment options such as live-in residence programs and outpatient day programs, contact Balance Treatment Center, where the staff believe that clients are more than their diagnoses and that when it comes to addressing anxiety, every person is different.
Balance programs include a fully licensed primary mental health residential center located in Calabasas and intensive outpatient programs in both Calabasas and San Luis Obispo. The team at Balance believes it’s important to open a dialogue and engage with family members of those suffering. By working together with other professionals in the industry to share innovations and collaborate on ideas, Balance continues the work to end the stigma of mental illness. For more information, visit them online at BalanceTreatment.com or give them a call at (855) 414-8100.
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