Tools to Combat Anxiety and panic

worried lady
Adding “me-time” is a must-have to look after your mental and physical well-being and overcome anxiety

Relaxation, Breathing & Visualization:

Anxiety is a common condition that affects 1 in 7 Australians. It is a natural response to perceived danger, but when anxiety becomes too frequent or severe, it can lead to mental and physical health issues. Common symptoms of anxiety include excessive worries, nervousness, tight chest/throat, sweating, faster breathing, irritability, sleep issues, muscle tension, upset stomach, avoidance, increased heart rate, poor concentration, and brain fog.

Anxiety often grows through avoidance. When we avoid the things that scare us, we get short-lived relief, but the next time a similar threat arises, it feels even scarier. This creates a harmful cycle of avoidance and worsening anxiety. But there are tools that can help us relax and break this cycle.

Grounding Technique:

If you find yourself overwhelmed or feeling panicked, try the following grounding technique:

• Acknowledge FIVE things you see • Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch • Acknowledge THREE things you hear • Acknowledge TWO things you can smell • Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste

Relaxation Techniques:

Relaxation techniques can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s calm response. Deep breathing is a simple yet effective technique to combat anxiety. During the fight-or-flight response, breathing becomes rapid and shallow, but deep breathing can send messages to the brain to begin calming the body. To practice deep breathing:

• Breathe in slowly for at least 5 seconds • Hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds • Breathe out very slowly for 5 to 10 seconds • Repeat the process until you feel calm

Visualization and Imagery:

Visualization is another powerful tool to combat anxiety. Our brain has the ability to create emotional reactions based on our thoughts. To use visualisation:

• Think of a place that’s calming for you • Paint a picture of the calming place in your mind • Pay attention to what you see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and the emotions present • Repeat this exercise daily

Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

Progressive muscle relaxation is another technique that teaches us to become more aware of the tension in our muscles. During the fight-or-flight response, the tension in our muscles increases, which can lead to a feeling of stiffness or even back and neck pain. Progressive muscle relaxation teaches us to intentionally tense each muscle and then release the tension. To practice progressive muscle relaxation:

• Find a private and quiet location • Sit or lie down somewhere comfortable • Tense and release muscles all throughout your body • Follow this pattern from your feet up to your head or vice versa • Repeat this exercise daily

Using these tools to combat anxiety will require practice to work effectively. Don’t wait until the last minute to try them out. By incorporating relaxation, breathing, and visualization techniques into your daily routine, you can take control of your anxiety and lead a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

Genine, a passionate Clinical Hypnotherapist, specialising in anxiety and stress therapy. Her personal journey overcoming anxiety, combined with her corporate and leadership background, drives her to use techniques like NLP and Coaching to empower others in their mental health journey. With a highly effective anxiety program, Genine offers a supportive space for individuals seeking help.

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