I’m often asked in my practice by my clients and also by people I know “what can I do to help with my stress and anxiety” where is there is no real all encompassing generic answer to that, there are a few things you can do that might help.
Obviously in the times we are in at the moment, these things have to be altered slightly, going out for a walk with friends is no longer really an option (at least not at the moment), so what can you actually do?
Focus on your breathing
This might sound little simple but it really works.
I suggest people stand up and place the palm of their hand on their tummy, just where your belly button is. Then focus on pushing your belly out as you breathe deeply in through your nose. Do this so you can feel your hand actually being pushed down by your belly as you breathe in. Moving out as you breathe in. As you breathe out, your hand on your belly feels your belly go back into its original position. It’s important not to push your belly in with your hand. Do this for about five minutes.
There are two benefits to this exercise:
- The first is that you’re focusing on your hand on your belly going out and going in and when you focus on that, you’re simply not focusing on the anxiety or stress you are experiencing.
- The second benefit, of course, is that by focusing on your hand on your belly you’re almost guaranteed to get diaphragmatic breathing, which of course, is far better for you than the shallow breathing in the chest area that can often happen when we are stressed or feeling anxious.
The power of visualisation
Another great idea that really helps with stress and anxiety is to use visualisation. Sometimes, when we stress, our mind is working very fast and we just don’t realise it. Focusing on an image can really help slow everything down. Simply close your eyes and imagine an image. For me, I always imagine that there is a speeding train that is slowing down and down and down until it comes to a complete halt. This exercise is also symbolic of how we might be feeling. I always use the term imagine because we can imagine by thinking – we don’t have to see it in our minds.
Use your senses
Another great strategy for stress and anxiety that I really love is utilising other senses, for example music. Is there a piece of music that you love listening to that just relaxes you? or maybe a song that makes you just want to dance? This can be a great way of releasing and relieving stress and anxiety.
Any physical exercise/ activity such as dancing or walking are fantastic for stress and anxiety but at the moment they are very difficult to manage outside of the house. By having a prance about the house with your headphones on, you can still have fun.
Aromas can also transport us to places away from our stress and anxiety. For example, mine is the memory of olive oil, basil and tomatoes. This just takes me back to a time when everything was more smiling for me. Maybe you have a favourite perfume, favourite smell or perhaps combine aroma with music?
Involve yourself in something completely different
If you’re a creative, or even if you’re not, trying your hand at something different can be helpful. Painting or cooking can be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. Believe it or not cleaning and/ or household chores can actually really help with moving your head out of the space of anxiety and stress.
The main thing to remember is that stress and anxiety builds because of apprehension or a concern with not feeling in control. It’s about finding a way of not fearing, of not feeling powerless or stuck. By taking time and changing our focus, we can move away from these difficult feelings.