Take a deep breath. By the time you count to five, we’ll have you feeling better. Read on…
Let’s start by acknowledging the causes of anxiety: we’d be lying if we said there isn’t a reason to worry – starting with global political unrest and the impending climate crisis. But you don’t have to worry about it. You could take action to make a difference (register to vote; take mass transit/carpool). Then let it go. You’ve done your part.
Now choose to focus on the positive aspects of being alive (hint: sunny days, friendship, a walk in the park as snow starts to fall while bundled up in warm woolens). Make a list of your favorite things (Julie Andrews has a few suggestions here) – because shifting your perception goes a long way towards reducing the anxiety chemicals which flood into your body during an attack.
Understand the biophysics of an anxiety attack
According to the Mayo Clinic, we’re hard-wired to be on the alert for predators and other threats – our ancestors wouldn’t have made it without this neural feedback loop. But here’s what the Mayo Clinic says happens inside your body when you get stressed – you’re risking your health:
“Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with the brain regions that control mood, motivation and fear.”
Now let’s get practical. Imagine you feel an anxiety attack coming on. What do you do? At Nano, we do what the US Marines do. This technique is used by the US Marines to calm the nervous system and send oxygen to the brain. Ready?
4-7-8 Relaxing breath exercise
- Sit with your back straight. Place the tip of your tongue against your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. This is one breath.
- Inhale and repeat the cycle three more times. Do this for a total of four breaths.
Caveat: not sure if your anxiety (or a loved one’s) is due to everyday stressors or something that needs clinical treatment? The National Institutes of Health has a useful guide here to help you understand the different levels of anxiety and modes of medical intervention, like CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).
Still stressed? Watch this (and dance – exercise is a great way to throw off anxiety and start smiling again).