In this post, I will share the 10 easy self care techniques that I use for anxiety relief.
If you’ve found this page, then chances are you’ve experienced anxiety, or you know someone who has.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Still, when anxiety finds you, it can be very scary, and the terror you feel in the midst of a panic attack can be totally debilitating.
There are over 8 million people in the UK, over 40 million people in the US and more than 260 million people worldwide living with an anxiety disorder. In England, women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders as men.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of being worried, afraid or tense about a particular situation or about something that could happen in the future. Anxiety is a natural response to feeling threatened and can affect our thoughts, how we feel and can change our physical sensations.
It’s quite normal to feel anxious sometimes, and it’s usual to feel anxious particularly about big life-changing events. Sometimes anxiety can last for a while and become difficult to manage.
Anxiety can be scary
I’ve had anxiety since I was 18 after a scary episode that knocked me out of action for about 6 months. Not only was it unexpected, but I also had no idea what was happening and had no experience of mental illness until the day of my first panic attack. It scared the living daylights out of me. That terror and a range of physical symptoms set in for some weeks until I asked for help.
I was lucky and eternally grateful as I have a supportive family and the NHS at that time responded quickly with treatment. I’ve had two smaller episodes since and each time professional help is my number one go-to treatment choice as I know, it works.
Why I get anxious
Most of my anxiety I have learned is focused on control. If I feel out of control or overwhelmed then my anxiety levels can creep up or skyrocket depending on the situation.
Some of the signs of my anxiety increasing are:
- Not breathing correctly – I hold my breath when I’m stressed or anxious. This can happen on occasion or all day sometimes. I don’t always recognise the trigger for this.
- Tight muscles – my body tenses up mainly in the shoulders, neck and jaw.
- Lack of concentration – I can’t focus on simple tasks. This can happen when I’m juggling too many tasks, or my to-do list is ridiculously long and growing.
- I can’t remember things – Like how I got to work that morning or what I was just doing.
These usually are the early signs that anxiety is taking over and history tells me that panic attacks could be around the corner.
When I spot these signs, I know I need to take action quickly. Professional help get’s me through those tricky anxious times, but If I spot the early warning signs, I try to prevent anxiety with some simple lifestyle changes that can make a massive difference to how I’m feeling and provide anxiety relief.
In this post, I’m going to share the tips, tools and practices that help me beat anxiety.
Seek professional help to get anxiety under control
To tackle the root cause of your anxiety my advice is to seek professional help. Anxiety can quickly become unmanageable so ask for help. Speak to a friend or family member and seek professional help from your doctor. With professional help, you can quickly gain control of your symptoms and start to feel healthy again.
Online Free Resources
If you’re in the UK and registered with a doctor, you can refer yourself for treatment/help without even seeing a doctor here.
There are some fantastic websites that help people with anxiety, and I recommend that you check out:
Private online therapy
If you are seeking private therapy, some good online lower cost options can help you. From about £40 a session you can do an online therapy session with a therapist of your choice from the comfort of your own home. This is super convenient and takes any drama out of getting to a therapists office which can cause anxiety in itself if you are struggling.
Of the more significant anxiety episodes I’ve had I was certainly not able to manage these alone, and professional support helped me to get back on track quickly.
I’ve been exploring practices and tools to help with anxiety and here are the 10 easy self care techniques that I use for anxiety relief:
1) Daily Body Scan
This simple but effective guided body scan by No Panic.org is fantastic as all you have to do, is lie down and click play. This one really works, and if you do the body scan daily, you will start to feel less anxious and stressed.
Lie down, get comfortable and focus on relaxing each part of your body one by one until you are fully relaxed. If you practice this daily then naturally over time, your body will understand that it doesn’t need to be in “flight” mode.
2) 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
When we’re anxious we often hold our breath so when you catch yourself breath holding do this simple 4-7-8 breathing technique:
- Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4
- Hold your breath for a count of 7
- Release the breath from your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of 8
- Repeat without a break the entire technique 3-4 times in a row, then resume normal breathing and activity again
Reframe how you think about your anxiety with positive affirmations that can instantly relax you. Here are my top three positive affirmations that can be used when you feel anxious or even in the midst of a panic attack.
- I feel cool, calm and collected
- This feeling is only temporary and will pass shortly
- All is well, and I am safe, the universe has got me
4) Meditation Apps
Calm and Headspace are my two favourite meditation apps for anxiety relief. Calm often has a free trial period so it’s easy to try before you buy and the monthly subscription is only about £3.75 anyway so not a massive dent in the pocket, and it’s worth it for the focused meditations such as 7 Days of Calming Anxiety and 7 Days of Sleep.
There are loads of meditations that you can just dip into and set for as long as you want to meditate. They also have sleep stories and music to help you sleep. Headspace is another popular meditation app that similarly has a variety of meditations that are flexible to fit into your busy life.
5) Yoga Nidra
My friend introduced me to yoga nidra, and she said: “you just zone out and afterwards you’ll feel like you’ve had a good sleep”, and that’s just what Yoga Nidra is. It’s a yogic sleep although the idea is that you don’t go to sleep during the meditation.
This is one of my favourite ways to meditate and chill out, and it’s so amazing it’s proven to help people with stress and PTSD. Half an hour of Yoga Nidra is equivalent to 2 hours of sleep.
Yoga nidra balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and allows you to reach a state between wakefulness and sleep where the body rests, but the mind is still lucid.
6) Sound Bath
What’s fantastic about a sound bath is you lie down, get comfortable and listen to the beautiful sounds of crystal and Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, tuning forks, shamanic drums, chimes and rain sticks. Each of the sounds invokes a different response as you feel the sound vibrations running through your body and you drift into a meditative state and relaxation and healing occurs.
Read more in my post:
7) Restorative Yoga
Restorative yoga typically is the use of props, blankets and bolsters to help you relax into position in floor-based poses for about 5 – 10 minutes each. Then muscles relax, the heart rate lowers, and the nervous system starts to reset. Restorative yoga helps you restore the physical body and quiet the mind at the same time.
There’s little effort required from you as the aim is to get into position and get as comfortable as possible using the props to support you.
Try Cat Meffan’s 12 Minute Restorative Yoga Sequence
Cat Meffan also has a lovely 10-minute yoga flow for stress and anxiety.
8) Yin Yoga
Yin yoga is like no other yoga. Most poses are deep stretch poses on the floor that you hold each for 3 to 5 minutes each using props. The trick is to stay absolutely still in the pose and try to relax your muscles. Concentrating on your breath helps you to relax and quiet the mind.
It can be hard to do at first as it challenges your mind as well as body. The stretches penetrate the deep tissue and the practice of Yin Yoga forces you to slow down and focus on the breath. Holding a pose for a few minutes is difficult and can increase anxiety initially, but over time you learn how to sit with the uncomfortableness and surrender to your feelings and emotions. Learning to accept those anxieties and surrendering your control of the situation is something you then take off the yoga mat into your daily life.
Diaphragmatic breathing in these classes also helps you tap into the parasympathetic nervous system and reduces your stress and anxiety.
Check out some lovely, dreamy Yin Yoga by the sea in Borneo with Boho Beautiful.
I like a tipple now and then but hangovers are not anxieties friend. Nobody wants a hangover anyway but not feeling your best can spiral into a flush of anxiousness. Certain types of food and drink make anxiety worse so avoiding them will keep anxiety at bay.
Food and drink to avoid are alcohol, coffee plays havoc with the adrenal glands, refined sugars play havoc with the endocrine glands, refined oils and margarine cause free radicals to exist in the body and halm it.
10) Nighttime Routine & Sleep
Getting enough sleep and at the right times protects the adrenal glands. A simple nighttime routine can help you sleep better.
No screen time 2 hours before bed can help for better sleep and I recommend a soak in the bath before bedtime with Epsom Salts famed for its muscle relaxing properties and is made up of magnesium which is a natural sleep aid.
Read here how my night time routine helps me to reduce cellulite too!
Have you tried journaling yet? Read these fantastic guest post on:
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- 10 Journal prompts for anxiety and how to set up an anxiety journal
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