Stress and anxiety are becoming the norm in our modern lives, many people are turning to medication in order to cope with the strain.  The problem is the countless side-effects and the costs involved. (Please don’t get me wrong – there is a time and place for medication.) There are many alternative methods to try, and in some cases a combination of things may do the trick for you. Remember, if you are on medication for anxiety, some of the following may assist in conjunction with your current treatment – these techniques should in no way be considered a replacement for prescribed medication.

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn

Alternative Practices for When Anxiety and Stress Hit You Like a Sledgehammer:

  1. Anxious breathing technique – Breathing is naturally calming, you are flooding your body with life giving oxygen. When you are practicing a structured breathing technique, your focus is centred on the breath entering and exiting your body, on the expansion of your lungs, the number of breaths and the time you are holding it in for. By concentrating on your breathing you distract yourself from the issue that caused your anxiety or stress. This calming time allows you to pull back and review the situation objectively – it is really as bad as you think? You can download my anxious breathing technique here.
  2. Be aware of your body position – As anxiety hits you may find yourself hunched over, breathing shallowly and tensed up. Relax, think about actively stretching your body and then relaxing each part, starting at your toes until you straighten your back and spine. While doing this breathe deeply from the bottom of your lungs, filling them completely. 
  3. Be mindful of your thoughts – Negative thoughts can creep into your subconsciousness when you least expect it. When you are overwhelmed or stressed it is all too easy to allow negative thoughts you overtake your thinking. While practicing your anxious breathing technique try and focus on something good. Look for one reason to be grateful right then or one thing to focus on that is positive. Keep reaffirming your positive thoughts until you feel you are out of the storm. 
  4. Journaling – Not only is journaling useful to find what is triggering your anxiety or stress, it can be a wonderful way to cope with it. To be able to express yourself about a situation or event and reflect in private is a very freeing activity. The self reflection may very well reveal far more than what you are expecting. 
  5. Focus on action – Stop for a minute and think about what is causing your anxiety or stress, once identified, note what action steps can be taken to resolve your situation. What can you do right NOW? Even small steps towards resolving your situation can make you feel immeasurably better. 
  6. Let go – What’s in the past is in the past, what’s done is done. There is no point in fretting over something you have no control over… when all is said and done, when there is nothing you can do, leave it be
  7. Ground yourself – When things are too much and your thoughts won’t stop swarming, take a couple of minutes to practice the age old technique of grounding to realign yourself in the present moment. Grounding allows you to walk away feeling re-energised and better able to focus your thoughts. Regular practice of this age old technique helps to improve sleep patterns, relieve pain, reduce inflammation and improve general well-being. You will find a link to my handy PDF on Grounding here, where I walk you through what grounding entails, as well as different techniques used to ground oneself.
  8. Disconnect from others & reconnect with yourself – While this sometimes feels like you are letting people down, you need your “me-time”. Switch off your phone, meditate, draw, go for a run, have a bubble bath. Whatever makes you smile…

By Debbie Taylor