You can start to feel it; your body is changing. Your heart rate picks up, you can feel it beating in your chest. Your pupils dilate, your breath quickens, your hands start to shake. This isn’t quite a panic attack, but you’re clearly in a moment of anxiety. If only you had a bandaid in your first aid kit for this kind of malady! Since this isn’t a problem some triple antibiotic ointment or ibuprofen can fix, let’s put together some tips that can help reduce your stress in these anxious moments. If you or your partner is feeling more anxiety than normal with everything going on in the world, these tips can help you manage day-to-day.
As Daniel Seigel says, “Name it to tame it.” Identify this anxiety in the moment you feel it. Sometimes anxiety just wants to sweep you away into a tidal wave of chaotic thinking, feeling like you’re having a heart attack, shortness of breath, or just absolutely unending, circular thinking, worrying thoughts. If you find yourself in a storm like that, there are a few things you can do for yourself (as well as reach out for help if you’re able).
1) Get your mind off of it. Escapism through a book, magazine, or tv show can help you step out of the whirlwind.
2) Breathe: Slow, deep belly breaths can ground you.
3) Write down your worried thoughts. Write, write, write; it helps to focus your thoughts and ground your emotions.
4) Get up and walk, move. A hard, fast, walk where you’re pumping your arms and getting your heart-rate up. The endorphins really do help!
5) Count things around you — five red things, five soft things, five green things. Just focus on counting. It gets your mind off of the stress.
6) Slowly drink water. It might sound strange, but this intentional physical action helps connect you to your body and ease stress.
7) Downward dog and cobra yoga poses — these are incredibly effective at getting you out of your mind and into your body.
Start incorporating these things the next time you feel panic. One of them is bound to get your brain out of the cycle of fight or flight. If your partner has anxiety, this article can help you to really understand what they’re going through — it’s so much more than basic stress. Remember, you’re in this together, and you can heal. We all just need to have a little extra grace with ourselves and each other for a while.