The Holiday Season is fast upon us. We live such a fast-paced life… and it only revs up more in the Holiday Season. These are some tools for you to handle on your stress and anxiety levels. Stress and anxiety can appear to grab us by the tail and swing us around on a whim — its whim!
Are you currently struggling with anxiety or is it something that you struggle with sometimes? Or is their someone in your life that is dealing with anxiety?
Even if you do not have or know someone who labels their experience as “anxiety,” stress is a part of life, and certainly part of the Holiday Season.
And… many of us deal with chronic stress, a kind of chronic pain, as a general way of living.
Well, you are not alone! According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older. That’s about 18% of the population every year. According to the American Psychological Association, 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress and nearly half reported that their stress had increased in the past year.
Anxiety can show up differently for different people and even at different points in life. It can show up as not feeling like you have what you need, the habit of worrying, a general feeling of fear but you can’t put a finger on where that fear is coming from, not feeling like you can fully breathe, not feeling at ease, a racing mind, insomnia, hyper-vigilance, difficulty making decisions…. the list goes on.
While I am not a doctor, a therapist, or someone licensed to treat anxiety, I know what works for me when anxiety shows up in my life.
Here are tools to handle stress and anxiety.
Notice how you feel right now.
Orienting – Look around you… look for colors, textures and objects… and don’t judge what you see (such as, “that looks messy over there”, etc.). Just name them – floor, ceiling, table, etc. As you look around, turning your head as you do so, be aware of your body. Notice if you find a sense of ease as you look around.
What can you use around you to ground you?
– feel parts of your body
– your feet on the floor
– sit on a chair
– take your shoes off and place them on the ground
If your breath feels available to you, deepen your breath, extending the exhale. If using the breath in this way increases your anxiety, don’t force it. Relax the breath. When you take a few easy deepen breaths and extend your exhale, such conscious breathing is another tool that can calm anxiety.
Include your sense of smell… any soothing smell, like a homemade meal, a favored essential oil, or the smell of soil after a rain… these can help create a feeling of calm.
Mantra or prayer… a repeated sound is helpful in settling the nervous system.
Give yourself a break and release any shame you have about your anxiety. If you are saying something like this to yourself, “I’m freaking out! Everyone else is fine. What’s wrong with me?!” release your worry and your judgment about your experience. Open yourself to compassion.
It may sound paradoxical when we are feeling the high energy of “anxiety,” but even though we prefer not to feel all that energy, it really helps to allow ourselves to feel it and then consciously use these tools and allow the body to calm down.
The wonderful thing about these tools is that they are always available to you, no matter where you go, who you are with, or what you are doing. Use them for exquisite self-care and deep healing. For more tools to handle stress and anxiety, check out my blog here.