Anxiety is both a physical and cognitive issue. Anxiety can plague our body and our thoughts -- leading to the tightening of our chests, to us not being able to catch our breath, to cycling negative thoughts. So here I present to you a specific practice to utilize when you experience anxiety, both in your body and in your mind. All I ask is that you commit AT LEAST 15 minutes a day to this practice in order to achieve the best results. These tips can be used at the onset of anxiety or panic, however, I suggest utilizing them daily in order to maintain an overall calmer state.
Accept your anxiety without judgement and prepare yourself to work through it. Try not to fight it, and allow yourself to ride the wave.
Sit with your eyes closed and turn your attention to your breathing. Breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control your breath.
Be aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. Place one hand on your belly, and the other on your chest. Take a deep breath for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale for a count of eight. Slowly, deeply. The hand on your belly should go in as you inhale, and move out as you exhale.
Concentrate on your breath and imagine that your mind is blank. This will take time.
Resist the temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, and focus on the sensation of the breath. If you discover that your mind has wandered and is following your thoughts, immediately return it to the breath.
A good imagery exercise is imagining there is an open door in front of you and then imagine all of your thoughts, problems, worries one by one fly through that door until they are all gone, then imagine the door slamming shut and return to your breath.
Repeat this as many times as necessary until your mind settles on the breath.
Attempt to ground yourself, paying attention to where you are sitting, how it feels to be sitting and the ground beneath you. Pay attention to the sounds you hear, the temperature, anything you smell. Ground yourself to the present, allowing yourself to leave the past and not trip into the future.
Reframe any negative thoughts to a realistic, more balanced perspective. Although you may not believe it in the moment, attempt to talk yourself through the anxiety -- changing the negative thought to a more positive and realistic one.
The sooner you make this a daily habit, the easier it will be for you to relax when faced with anxiety. When you implement deep breathing into your daily routine, you start the day in a here-and-now state. Better yet, you're not wasting time worrying about the future, or reliving the past.
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