Happy springtime. The days are getting lighter and we’re shaking off those winter cobwebs from our psyche. Aren’t we? There’s been a lot about anxiety in the press at the moment and the enormity of the ‘anxiety economy’. A recent @Guardian article (shared at the bottom) reported on a billion-pound industry selling anti-anxiety resolutions from a squishy toy, to a weighted blanket to skin care products and stickers, the enormous range of anti-anxiety products. Do all of these products work? Who knows but stress statistics in the UK are certainly on the rise?
Stress and anxiety work closely together to inhibit our lives. Anxiety certainly adds to stress levels and stress can cause anxiety. With 11million days lost last year to stress we can assume that there are associated levels of anxiety too. While products such as the weighted blanket may work well for some individuals it doesn’t sound very portable, there’s a cost and what do you do for anxiety while you are waiting for delivery?
At Relaxation For Living and More, we apply a holistic view of anxiety and stress management. We see the body and mind as a whole and take a view of what is going on inside when applying solutions. As such we sometimes see anti-anxiety products as a temporary respite to what is really happening within your mind and body. We’d like to share three simple techniques to allay anxiety with you. These are all easy to apply and the tactics we use in our stress management training for healthcare professions and carers. They are free and effective, and we’d encourage you to give them a go if you are experiencing anxiety or panic attacks on a regular basis. These are also in line with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
Understanding The Body Response: Hyperventilation
The first is understanding exactly what is going on in your body when you experience anxiety. When your mind detects a threat, real or imagined, including anxiety, it will send signals to the body.; this is the fight or flight response. Hyperventilation is a common symptom of anxiety, including a panic attack. The breath shortens so there is an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body. The physical response to hyperventilation can include some of the following frightening symptoms:
- Numbness or tingling of the skull
- Cramps or spasms in your muscles
- Chest pains
- Blurry vision
- Faintness or dizziness
- Stomach pains
These can be terrifying sensations and if you are not aware of their cause’s chances are anxiety will increase and so too will the pain. Recognising that these are features of anxiety will not only help allay the fear of the symptoms but will also help you identify the root cause of your fight or flight response. See point three for a quick tip for reducing your anxiety and regaining control of your breathing.
The Holistic Approach
As mentioned briefly in point one and as talked about in previous blogs, RFL&M advocate a holistic approach to dealing with stress management and anxiety. That is, what happens in the body cannot be treated in isolation from what is going on in the mind, and vice versa. Anxiety and panic attacks will commence in the mind, with the physical symptoms acting in response to your mental reaction. If you are experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, try to take steps to calm your mind. Draw a map of your day and compare it to a map of your ideal day. Where are the areas you could take easy steps to improve? Some stress is unavoidable but we’re willing to bet there are areas for improvement. Could you make room for one of your favourite hobbies in your schedule in a day, or at least in a week? Tending to your optimum health can often be achieved by a few simple activities. Wellbeing and any activities that cause you to relax your mind can be a huge antidote to allowing anxiety to build up and affect your life. Give this a try and come up with 2 activities or regime changes that lead to your relaxation or happiness. Or conversely come up with 2 activities that are causing you stress, such as the long list of chores to do when you get home, or taking calls after 9pm.
And on a final point, we’d like to share with you a “quick calm down” technique which is the fastest and simplest way to deal with anxiety. Wherever you are in the world or the time of the day this technique works to reduce the pressure on your body using breathing. If you are prone to anxiety this is a good one to memorise or keep in your pocket as an immediate acting response to stress. Please click on the
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As ever we hope this article has been useful. Whilst not discounting any of the products in the ether, these tips for dealing with anxiety; knowledge, a holistic view and breathing control are part our belief at Relaxation For Living & More that tools and skills for a more relaxed, in-control and enjoyable life are within our reach. We work with those in healthcare and care who are looking to learn easy to teach methods for stress and anxiety reductions as well as individuals or corporate groups who would like to learn the same skills to enrich their lives.