Straight Up Guide To Quickly Reducing Stress and Anxiety
These guides were born out of Noah and Christine’s frustration with overly complicated and jargon-filled articles, newsletters, books, and therapy websites. Our mission is to create clear and practical guides in order to learn, grow from challenges, and lead more meaningful and impactful lives.
Tip #1: Think of at least 1 thing you are grateful for in life currently. Spend one minute bringing this thing, person, or experience to mind and allow yourself to embrace the sense of gratitude and other pleasant emotions that arise. You can repeat this exercise with other positive experiences like peace, joy, and love by remembering the last time you experienced those feelings, and recalling the details of the experience to “re-live” the moment for a few minutes.
Tip #2: Give your breath some focused attention. Try directing your attention to the rising and falling of your chest and belly as you breathe. No need to control the breath or breathe deeply, just track the natural rhythm of your breath for a minute. Allow the breath to be the anchor, grounding your mind in the present moment. Whenever your mind wanders, just bring it back to your breath as a way to “unhook” from anxious and stressful thoughts.
Tip #3: Use your body and senses to change your current state. Trying to control our mind and emotions is usually a losing battle. Instead try using your body or one of the 5 senses to indirectly change your state. It can take as little as 1 minute to shift your mind and mood. For example, smell some essential oils; turn on some “happy” music really loud and sing (maybe dance) along; run in place or do jumping jacks to recalibrate the nervous system; force yourself to laugh out loud (sounds strange, but it works!); do some self-massage to release muscle tension.
Tip #4: Intentionally remind yourself about what is most important and that you are capable. For example, if you want to learn to embrace uncertainty and learn to minimize stressing over things you can’t control, then tell yourself something like this: “I am doing the best that I can and there is only so much I have control over. Whatever happens, I will get through it. For now, I want to focus on the things that matter most to me in life, like connecting with myself and others.” If you are wanting to combat stress and anxiety in order to be productive or stay committed to a stressful task, then consciously pivot your mindset like this: “I will choose to get my to-do list done today because I am capable and it will leave me feeling empowered.”
Tip #5: Say something nice to yourself. When you are feeling stressed and anxious, the last thing you need is your mind beating you up about it and making you feel worse. Stop bullying yourself when things are hard. Instead, talk to yourself like you would a dear friend in a moment of need. Imagine what you may say to a friend feeling anxious and stressed, then try to offer that care and kindness towards yourself. You deserve your own care and kindness as much as anyone else!
Research has shown that practicing these tips for 5 minutes a day (1 min each) can deactivate the stress response and promote a sense of calm, well-being, and empowerment.
Christine Izquierdo and Noah Laracy are the co-founders of Straight Up Treatment, an anxiety disorder specialty treatment center. Straight Up Treatment utilizes a variety of cognitive-behavioral approaches to treat anxiety-based conditions such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Social and Performance Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Depression, and Generalized Anxiety.
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