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5 ways you can decrease your anxiety right now

1) Breathe Breathe Breathe

You’ve probably heard people say “Just breathe” when you feel nervous or going through a crisis. The reality is thought, it’s not quite that simple. We all have what’s called a sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for elevating the nervous system while the parasympathetic nervous system is in charge of calming down the nervous system. You can activate your parasympathetic nervous system by exhaling, and the longer you exhale, the more calm your nervous system will be. Take a deep breath in for a count of 4 and as slowly as you can (imagine you’re breathing through a straw) exhale for at least a count of 8. Repeat this process as necessary and observe the feelings of immediate calm.

2) Tune in to your senses.

Tuning into your senses is a process called grounding. An easy common grounding exercise is called the 5-4-3-2-1. Notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. By tapping into your natural senses, the mind refocuses itself on the present moment and future thoughts and feelings of anxiety are significantly reduced

3) Start “noticing your thoughts”

instead of judging them or associating with them. Many of our feelings are proceeded by thoughts. We all have thousands of thoughts every day and starting to just notice your thoughts can give you some distance from your thoughts and reduce feelings of anxiety. Just because we have a thought, does not mean that thought is true.

4) Start challenging your thoughts.

Imagine you were in a court defending yourself against a prosecuting attorney with the prosecuting attorney acting as your negative thoughts. Not everything your brain tells you is factual and accurate. For example, if you have a thought of “I’m so stupid”, you could challenge that thought by reminding yourself of times you have done well on exams or received positive feedback from work. This may take some time to master, but thought challenging is a useful way to reduce anxiety

5) Get your heart rate up

Study after study shows that cardiovascular activity is one of the most helpful tactics in managing anxiety. Even 2-3 short 10-20 minute high-intensity training at intervals can be helpful in reducing anxiety in the short term and long term.


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