Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but problems arise when the body is stuck in the stress response and anxiety takes over. Occasional anxiety can be related to a particular situation or issue, but often becomes generalised, and permeates our everyday mood, which can make it difficult to relax and enjoy the good things that are going on in our lives.
Yoga practices, including breath and meditation, are proven methods for helping us deal with stress, overwhelm, and anxiety, and we can use these tools without rolling out a yoga mat - if you are starting to feel your anxiety levels rising, anywhere, anytime, in just a few minutes, you can dial it back with these 3 simple actions.
1. STOP - yep, that's the tip! Just stop whatever you're doing and bring your body to a standstill. Feel, or imagine, your feet firmly grounding you into the Earth, and grow taller, as though you have a beautiful bunch of helium balloons tied to the crown of your head. Coming to stillness will help you to step out of the spiralling feeling that anxiety can bring, and instead allow you to observe the feeling, and move through it, rather than getting stuck there.
2. BREATHE OUT FULLY THROUGH YOUR MOUTH - and then in slowly through your nose. Repeat. Feel, or imagine, the breath flowing in and out smoothly and comfortably. Observe the expanding feeling as you inhale, and the deflating as you exhale, as the lungs fill and then empty. Breathing fully and deeply moves the nervous system away from the Fight-Flight-Freeze response, and helps move it into the calmer, more relaxed state usually known as Rest & Digest.
3. USE THE 3-3-3 TRICK - Notice three things you can SEE, three things you can HEAR, and three things you can FEEL, right now. This will help you to come into the present moment. Anxiety tends to be a future-based feeling, and if we can ground ourselves in the now, it helps us move through the anxiety and into a calmer space.