By Dr. Thomas Horowitz & Ann Horowitz OMS2
Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress. While anxiety is normal, sometimes our brain may become overprotective and it can feel like it’s taking over our body. Different events or tasks can trigger anxiety among different people, but identifying the cause is important to cope with anxiety.
Below are few helpful ways to cope with anxiety:
- Be mindful: Take some time to recognize things around you and start listing them out. Focus on your feet—where they are and how they feel.
- Verbalize: Verbalizing is very important to process your emotions. Try to identify why you are scared—it might be silly, but that’s ok. If you can’t figure out why you are anxious, that’s also fine. Say aloud “I am afraid” and repeat it until you start to feel better. This usually takes 3-5 repetitions to take the edge off.
- Write: Sometimes, it’s good to get all your thoughts out. Writing is highly effective because it allows you the chance to organize your thoughts on a page—list everything and reflect on it. You do not need to do anything with it once you have written it down as the action of writing alone will help. You may also find it helpful to show it to a friend after you organize your thoughts.
- Exercise: Any form of exercise works, but more intense forms, such as running or lifting, tend to be a little easier because they divert your focus from things that make you anxious and make you feel better.
- Long hug: The body releases happy hormones after being hugged for 10 seconds. Weighted blankets or anything else that makes you feel snug and slightly squished will help if you can’t find or don’t want to hug someone else.
- Mammalian diving reflex: All mammals, including humans, have a primitive reflex to protect us from drowning. This reflex, called the Mammalian Diving Reflex, kicks in when our face is submerged in cold water and causes the nervous system to slow down. While this technique may sound wild, it may work when nothing else is working. You can stick your head in a bowl of ice water for about 10-15 seconds. People have reported that sticking their head in a freezer works as well. The cold forces the body to calm down, dropping the heart rate, and blood pressure among causing other positive effects.
While uncertain times are challenging, we can take steps to help ourselves feel safer, more satisfied, and more connected with others to conquer our fears and anxiety.
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