These are some techniques that can help with the management of anxiety.
- Breathing: In through the nose, out through the mouth. Find the count that works for you (i.e. Inhale for 4 seconds/exhale for 5 seconds). Always exhale longer than you inhale. This helps empty the lungs of carbon dioxide of which a build-up can contribute to anxiety type symptoms.
- Systematic relaxation: Work on each body part in a systematic manner. i.e. clench hands tightly for 5 seconds, then completely relax all at once. Then, tighten lower arms for 5 seconds, then completely relax all at once. Do this for each part of your body.
- Visualization: Chose a positive, relaxing place/event that is very vivid to you. Engage all your senses in the visualization (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch). The more sensory involvement you have in the visualization, the more effective.
- Grounding: This is used to bring you back to the present and out of thinking/memories that may be triggering the anxiety. This is usually done though physical sensations. Snapping a rubber band on your wrist, using something intense (but pleasant) smelling, using something intense (but pleasant) tasting. A particularly effective grounding technique is to tightly squeeze an ice cube in the palm of your hand. Not too hard as you do not want to injure yourself but squeeze it hard enough to be mildly uncomfortable.
- Relaxing the vagus nerve: One technique that is a good place to start learning how to relax this nerve is to squat. When anxiety creates racing/abnormal heart rhythm and/or breathing issues, it is often due to the vagus nerve being interfered with as the abdomen tightens. When you squat and bear down (as though trying to “push out”) the muscles can not physically remain tightened and will relax around the vagus nerve, allowing the nerve to resume normal function. As you become more in tune to the sensation of relaxing this nerve, it can be accomplished though visualization and relaxation while in a sitting position.