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Tips for managing anxiety in the moment

December 5, 2023

Anxiety can come up at any moment, and oftentimes it comes up when we least expect, or a time that isn’t super convenient. We’ve all been in a situation where we start feeling anxious, and then get anxious about that anxiety and how we are supposed to deal with it. Maybe you’re walking into a job interview, or in the Uber on your way to a first date, or maybe you just woke up feeling anxious for no reason (we’ve all been there). Moments like these can become so debilitating if we don’t acknowledge that anxiety and then lean into skills to manage it. When you’re experiencing anxiety in the moment and need some quick strategies to manage it, here are a few techniques you can try:

1. Deep breathing: Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Focusing on your breath can help calm your body and mind. Our breath is connected to everything we do, and can often be the first thing to be impacted by our emotions. If our body is calm, it sends the message to our brain that it is okay to relax.

2. Grounding techniques: Engage your senses to bring your attention to the present moment. Name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This helps redirect your focus away from anxious thoughts. Connecting with our surroundings in this way can help defuse ourselves from our thoughts, even if only temporarily, so that we can address those thoughts and feelings with a calmer perspective.

3. Progressive muscle relaxation: Start by tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in your body, starting from your toes and working your way up to your head. This technique helps release tension and promotes relaxation. There is so much power in the mind + body connection, and it’s important to remember that while our thoughts and feelings exist in our mind, our body is connected to them as well.

4. Positive self-talk: Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive and encouraging statements. Remind yourself that anxiety is temporary and that you have the strength to manage it. This can be hard when our anxiety is mixed with self doubt or a sense of low self esteem. If positive self talk feels too challenging, try neutralizing your experience. An example of this could be reframing “I am so nervous I am going to fail” to “I am entering this experience with confidence and hoping for the best”.

5. Use a grounding object: Carry a small object, such as a smooth stone or a stress ball, that you can touch or hold onto when feeling anxious. The tactile sensation can provide a sense of comfort and grounding. You can make any object into a grounding object if you want – it could be the pen in your hand, your keychain, or even a coin you found in your wallet.

6. Engage in physical activity: Engaging in some form of physical exercise or movement, even if it’s just a short walk or stretching, can help release tension and reduce anxiety. Movement can release endorphins that help our brain feel more positive feelings, reducing feelings of anxiety and helping you to reconnect to your body.

7. Distract yourself: Shift your focus away from anxiety by engaging in an activity that captures your attention. This could be listening to music, reading a book, solving a puzzle, or engaging in a hobby you enjoy. This can also look like talking to friends or family. Remember that distraction can be a helpful tool in the short term, but can lead to avoidance if we don’t address our feelings at some point.

8. Practice mindfulness: Pay attention to the present moment without judgment. Observe your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. Mindfulness exercises, such as focusing on your breath or body sensations, can help anchor you in the present.

9. Seek support: Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist who can provide support and reassurance. Sharing your feelings with someone who understands can help alleviate anxiety.

Remember that these techniques may not eliminate anxiety completely, but they can help you manage it in the moment. It’s important to find what works best for you and to practice these strategies regularly to build your resilience over time. If anxiety persists or significantly interferes with your daily life, consider seeking professional help from a mental health professional.

Other Therapy Services at Manhattan Wellness in Manhattan, Westchester, Brooklyn & Throughout New York

Our therapists understand that there can be a variety of different needs that arise. Apart from helping you navigate anxiety, our therapists also offer a variety of services to cater to your individual needs. The therapy services we offer are Anxiety Treatment, Therapy for Depression, Stress Management, and Therapy for Women. As well as Therapy for Self-Esteem, support for, body image therapy, and so much more. Do you feel like you’re not living the life you want and need to make changes? Let’s talk about it.

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