Sometimes coping skills lists offer platitudes like, “let it go” or “don’t worry so much.” Those are great, but sometimes they leave us without actual steps to achieving the outcomes we want. I hope to offer you a few REAL and effective anxiety management techniques. Check out these top 3 copings skills that help my clients manage anxiety.
- Use a grounding technique. A grounding technique will engage the rational, thinking, present part of your brain. I recommend you put both feet on the floor while sitting in a chair. Begin rubbing your palms on the top of your jeans by your knees/quads.
As you begin to create friction as you move your hands back and forth, observe and describe the following things: What do my jeans feel like? How can I describe this fabric? What sensations do I notice on my palms? Are the sensations different on my legs verses my hands? What do I notice about the temperature? What sensations do I feel now?
At this point… you will be thinking about one thing; your hands. It’s a POWERFUL technique that you can do anytime.
2) Breath into your belly: Breathing is likely on any list you read regarding coping skills. I’d like to explain one of the BEST ways to breath for anxiety. Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. As you breath in, bring the breath down into your belly and make the hand on your belly rise, while the hand on your chest stays still. We want to breath deeply into our belly and not with a shallow chest breath. This can be done laying down or sitting. Breath deep, raise that belly, and exhale slowly. This will make you focus on the here-and-now, focus on the mechanics of the breath, and give you the benefits of deep breathing.
3) Completely validate and accept the feeling: This is probably the hardest one, especially for anxiety…but the most effective. I call this the magic pill because it is THAT effective. My clients with anxiety disorders usually benefit from multiple therapy sessions addressing this skill along with consistent practice. The philosophy is: If I accept this emotion completely, it will go away. The rule is: Anxiety is not bad. Anxiety is like any other emotion. It is valid and deserves space. I can accept it and it will pass. The payoff is: By accepting and allowing this, it leaves faster and I feel better. How to apply this. Next time you feel anxious, state validating statement such as, “This is just energy in motion, I can allow it space, it is valid, it is my emotion, I have the right to feel this.” If this sounds like something you would like more guidance with, I have seen fast improvement with my clients as we learn this skill. I can help you navigate this skill effectively.