Updated: May 27, 2020
We are in the midst of change! When that happens, anxiety tends to spike UP. We all fear the unknown; human beings like to be in control and know exactly what to expect. Managing anxiety is about soothing and comforting our nervous system and getting back into our window of tolerance.
The window of tolerance represents a range of "settings" for the nervous system. When you are in your window, you feel relaxed, able to manage, can think straight, problem solve and control impulses. When you are out of your window, you can go "up" into hyperarousal where you may feel panic, fear, elevated heart rate, racing thoughts and inability to focus. Or you may go "down" into hypoarousal, where you may feel frozen, numb, lethargic, sluggish, tired and unable to function.
Any activity that gets you back into your window is a great tool to manage anxiety.
Here are some tips to help:
Find a grounding ritual (or five!) and do it every day. This can be as simple as having a cup of tea at particular times of the day - boiling the water, waiting three minutes for it too settle before pouring, warming the pot or cup, blending the tea with lemon or milk and sugar and watching it swirl. Or it can be more involved, such as settling on a mat or blanket, playing your favorite music, and doing some yoga or stretching.
Schedule set times to speak with a friend or family member. Connection is an anxiety buster!
Meditation apps are huge right now. Listen to David Ji's deep voice talk about "Soothing Healing Love" or to Sara Raymond's soft voice talk about developing "A Positive Internal Dialogue" on You Tube.
Go into nature. I can't say enough about the positive impacts of the beautiful combination of green and blue on your mind. Trees and the sky are natural healers. If there is a nature trail near you - perhaps with a creek or river - I highly recommend spending time there.
Watch your favorite comedies. Laughing is the best way to lower anxiety.
Listen to music. Whether it is soothing piano with nature sounds or dance music to have your own dance party to, music rocks.
Deep breathing. Breathe in through your nose and count, let your breath out through your mouth and count. This slows your heart rate.
Call a distress line. Speaking with someone can help to lower anxiety in the moment.
If you find that your anxiety is increasing in spite of your best efforts, don't hesitate to book a session with a therapist.