When we are anxious, worried, and stressed, our bodies can have a very physical reaction. Our heart rate increases. We have changes in our breathing, get sweaty palms, or feel like we aren’t thinking quite straight. Finding ways to self-soothe can be helpful in the moment to help you get through.
The key to finding the right technique is to try some out and learn which is a good fit for you. There’s not a one size fits all plan.
Here are a couple of stress relievers for you to try that take little time and cost nothing! Please note that these were written with an emphasis on being quick, but you can make them longer if you prefer.
Time needed to complete: 45 - 60 seconds.
Goal: Use the intake and release of air from your lungs to alleviate the symptoms of mental and physical stress.
We’ve all heard of deep breathing and perhaps you’ve even tried it out before. Deep breathing can be very simple and helpful in almost any situation. You don’t need special tools or skills. You don’t have to be in a particular place. You can do it anywhere and it literally takes less than 60 seconds.
Some people like to breathe in/out through just their nose or just their mouth. Try different ways out and see what feels most natural for you.
Time needed to complete: 3 ½ - 4 minutes.
Goal: Use your imagination to picture a relaxing place that you can visit to briefly escape the situation that is causing mental and physical stress.
Before we start, you need to choose your place. What comes to mind when I ask you to think of a relaxing place? This place can be real or imagined. A few examples I have heard from clients are the beach, the forest, downhill skiing, floating in space, a great aunt’s kitchen, a grassy field. Someone once told me that kneading bread dough in their kitchen is their most relaxing place!
Now that you have identified your place, let’s begin. You may find it helpful to have another person read the following steps out loud to you. As you go through each of your five senses, be sure to spend about 20-30 seconds mentally exploring that sense.
Once you’ve tried these techniques out, identify which helps you most and think about how you could use them in your daily life. The stressful situation won’t disappear if we breathe deeply or picture a beach, but the hope is that you can have a little escape so you can keep going and deal with the stress you’re facing.
Please note that the Toolbox articles are meant to be informative and are not a replacement for therapy.
Your path Therapy