According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect roughly 40 million people over the age of 18 in the United States. Though these disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those with anxiety seek treatment. Perhaps this is because of busy schedules or a lack of insurance that causes so many people with anxiety to suffer in silence.
But there are proven strategies you can do that don’t cost a penny and take little time. In fact, you could do any of the following strategies on your lunch or coffee break. Here are some ways to reduce your anxiety:
According to a study published by the Journal of Emergency Medicine, 30% of people who go to the ER with complaints of chest pain and no evidence of coronary artery disease are actually suffering from a panic attack. Why is this so common?
When we are stressed or anxious, we tend to over-breathe or under-breathe. This can cause dizziness and hyperventilation. Deep breathing is a powerful way to gain control over your breath and reaction to a panic attack. Studies show taking slow, deep, breaths soothes our nervous system and increases brain activity. And you almost immediately feel a calm settle over you. Try it for yourself.
Try Listening Meditation
One way to get your mind to settle down is to meditate. And one of the easiest ways to meditate is to practice listening meditation. This is exactly what is sounds like. Sit quietly, eyes closed, and begin to listen to the ambient sounds in the room. What do you hear? Buzzing lights? A fan? Someone cough? Birds outside? A lawnmower? Just be aware of all the sounds and try and expand that awareness to hear as much as possible. This form of meditation is fun and effective, because you cannot possibly listen, truly listen, and think at the same time.
Take a Walk
Nervous energy needs to go somewhere – it has to be burned. Taking a 15- minute walk around the block can be a great way to get rid of this energy while breathing deeply. As a bonus, your body releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins when you exercise.
Don’t Drink Coffee
Yes, I am asking you on your coffee break to not drink coffee. Or soda. Caffeine and sugar can exacerbate anxiety by making us feel jittery and nervous. You are far better off sticking with water.
I hope you will give these anxiety-busting strategies a try. If you feel they are not helping as much as you need and you would like to speak with someone, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to speak a bout treatment options with you.
Chelsy A. Castro, JD, MA, AM, LCSW