Have you ever had one of those moments where everything started to spiral out of control and stress and anxiety became so overwhelming that you couldn't calm yourself?
I sure know I have! Living in a fast paced world like we do this is an all to common feeling these days. Juggling family, work, school, and social obligations can become more than we can handle sometimes.
I received a frantic email from a client a few weeks back saying to call her office number ASAP because she thought she might be having a serious anxiety attack and might be in need of medical care.
She had lost her cell phone, was overburdened with work, her nanny for her 1 year old baby was sick and had to go home, and her marriage was struggling. She felt that her whole life was spiraling out of control so fast that she needed to be medicated in order to calm down and regain control.
I quickly called her back and walked her through some instant stress and anxiety tips that she could put in place right then and there to provide some instant relief and avoid that trip to the hospital.
She laughed at me (which is stress reduction tip number one..to laugh) because my first suggestion was to find someone at work she knew, liked, and trusted enough to give her a great big long hug. You may be laughing too but studies conducted by the University of Vienna show a tight hug can increase your levels of oxytocin, a stress reducing hormone.
If a hug is not in the cards then here are some other tips you can try to get that anxiety and stress level down in a hurry.
- Deep yogic breathing exercises - Focused deep abdominal breathing helps to quickly calm the stress response by bringing awareness away from your stress and current situation and back to your body. The American Institute of Stress recommends visualizing hot air flowing in through inhalation from your feet to your lungs and as you exhale visualize this hot air leaving in reverse from your lungs back down through feet and out of body.
- Inhale lavender or citrus essential oil - Studies show that inhalation of certain smells such as lavender and citrus can significantly reduce stress levels. Taking a big whiff of fresh lavender with your eyes closed and let this amazingly simple stress reliever go to work.
- Positive verbal affirmations - Positive affirmations such as "everything is ok", "stress is leaving my body", or "I am in control of my life and well-being" can have an empowering effect on reducing stress and anxiety. Often times this anxiety gets out of control when you feel powerless and out of control. By bringing a sense of control back to your current situation by repeating these affirmations as many times as needed can help to instantly calm the mind and reduce anxiety.
- Move your body - Almost everybody knows that exercise increases blood flow to the brain and helps to stimulate endorphins or your feel good chemicals. Not only that but exercise can also help bring focus back on the body and away from your stress just as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises can do.
- Sip calming chamomile tea - This wonderfully mild herb has been shown to have mild sedative properties to induce relaxation and alleviate stress. So brew up a nice warm cup of tea and take a moment alone to drink in its benefits.
- Do self acupressure - Have you ever noticed under a stressful situation that you find yourself rubbing your hands or temples? One of my favorite acupressure points to self stimulate in times of stress is known as "union valley" It's located in the soft spot of the webbing between your thumb and pointer fingers and when pressed you will notice tenderness.
- Listen to music - In a recent article published by The Huffington Post, the author states that certain types of music can reduce cortisol levels and help to calm people down in stressful situations. I know that personally this has worked very well for me in the past.
- Lay with legs up on wall - Laying on the floor with your legs up the wall is an incredibly restorative yoga pose with the ability to calm the nervous system and decrease anxiety within about 5 minutes. It helps to calm and relax you adrenals, calm the mind, and release tension.
Remember that stress can only be present if you allow it to be. There are so many tools available to stop stress and anxiety in its tracks. Find what works for you and don't wait until the stress level is out of control. As soon as you start to feel it come on take a moment to yourself to try one of these techniques.
If you have a technique that you have found works well that I did not list please leave a comment below and let me know about it.
As always.....in good health and happiness,
Brandy Augustine PhD