Words by Hollie McCollister
Anxiety; we all experience it to some degree due to the stressors of daily life.
What is it? It can be anything and everything from mild nervousness to a constant feeling of dread. It may include muscle tension, muscle aches, or shaky feelings. For me, I get that little fluttering in my chest for no reason that I can identify at the moment. Some feel it in their stomach area; some experience it as an all-over body sensation.
The question is, “What can I do to help myself when this happens?”
If it is mild anxiety, there are a number of things you can do. The techniques that I use and recommend to my clients are the following:
1) Deep breathing. Take several deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. I like to use a mantra as I breathe such as “I am love” or, if you’re of a spiritual nature, “Come Holy Spirit.” You can come up with a mantra that means something to you. Try to keep it positive as you’re telling your brain to tell the rest of your body to relax.
2) If you’re having anxiety inducing thoughts, one of the things you can do is wear a rubber band around your wrist and pop it every time you have a negative or anxiety inducing thought. You’re not going to hurt yourself; it’s just a technique to get you to recognize the thought and reframe it in a positive way.
3) When you have a thought that induces anxiety or you are feeling a bodily sensation that you recognize as anxiety, tell yourself, “I’m done with that!” It sounds a little silly, but I’ve seen it work for many people, myself included.
4) There’s a spot in the center of your body that is said to connect the body to the mind. It is right in the center of your chest. Tap or rub here for 30 seconds to relieve feelings of anxiety.
There are many more techniques to relieve anxiety. It’s all about finding the one that works for you, and putting it into practice.
If your anxiety is severe, the best thing to do is find a good physician to rule out any physical problems, and seek out the guidance of a good therapist. Speaking of therapists, if you decide to go that route, find one that you’re comfortable with and that will support you through this journey. There are some very good books on anxiety that can be purchased if you decide to go the self-help route. I’ve listed some of them below:
The 10 Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques: Understanding How Your Brain Makes You Anxious and What You Can… by Margaret Wehrenberg (Aug 11, 2008)
The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry by Lisa M. Schab LCSW (Apr 1, 2008)
These are just a few of the books that I recommend to my clients and also use myself. I hope this information has helped you in some way. See you again soon!
Hollie McCollister is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She is currently President of the Mississippi Licensed Professional Counselor’s Association and President Elect Elect of the Mississippi Counseling Association. She is married and lives at her home with her spouse and four dogs Bella, Bacchus, Buster, and Booboonoodle. She can be reached at email@example.com with any questions.