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Top 5 Tips to Relieve Anxiety

Hi, my name is Michael Pulman and I am a Healthcare Practitioner and Clinical Therapist specialising in anxiety.

We all suffer with some form of anxiety from time to time; sometimes we don’t even know what caused it. But, when it does happen you know all too well how debilitating it can be to your health, the impact it has on your immediate family, and how it affects your daily life in general. That’s why I’ve put the following tips together for you. My top 5 tips are tried, tested, and proven to have helped many of my clients to take back control of their lives and no longer feel a slave to anxiety and its side effects.

I hope you practice, persevere, and most of all enjoy the wonderful benefits they can bring.

1. EXHALE NEVER FAILS

This breathing exercise is a quick to learn and easy to use tool that can be used anywhere for all manner of stress related issues.

Ideally you want to sit up straight while learning this exercise. Place the tip of your tongue just behind your upper front teeth, just on the ridge of your mouth. Keep it in this position during the complete breathing exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this help. Take a deep breath in and then exhale completely through your mouth and make a whooshing sound at the same time.

Then close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a mental count of FOUR. Hold your breath for a count of SEVEN, exhale completely through your mouth, again making a whooshing sound to a count of EIGHT.

This is one breath.

Repeat the exercise three more times for a total of four breaths.
It’s important the ratio of 4:7:8 is maintained.
This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilliser for the nervous system and will become an increasingly powerful tool with repetition and practice.
Use it whenever you feel anxious, stressed or physically tense.

2. PROGRESSIVE RELAXATION

This simple technique involves tensing and relaxing all of the major muscles in your body from the top of your head to tips of your toes. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a wonderfully relaxing and effective technique for reducing overall physical tension.

When you tense your muscles before relaxing them, you enable yourself to relax them more thoroughly after you release, letting go of physical tension much more effectively.

Research shows that physical relaxation can also release emotional tension and stress.
As you practice this technique and become more familiar with its positive affects you can create your own shortened version to suit.

Make sure you give yourself at least 15-20 minutes to complete the exercise. Find somewhere comfortable and quiet where you won’t be disturbed and switch your phone on silent. Sit or lie down and settle yourself into a comfortable position. Unfold your arms and uncross your legs so that your body is able to really relax.

Start With Your Face. Begin by tensing all the muscles in your face and scalp. Make a tight grimace, close your eyes as tight as you can and clench your teeth. Hold this for the mental count of eight as you inhale.

Now let go of that tension. Exhale and completely relax. Just let your face go completely lax, as though you were fast asleep. Feel the tension draining away from your facial muscles and enjoy this feeling. Take your time and relax completely before you move onto the next step.

Move to your neck. Tense your neck and shoulders, again inhaling and counting to eight as you tense. Then exhale and relaxing. Work your way down your body, repeating the steps with the following muscle groups:
  • Chest
  • Stomach
  • Right arm
  • right forearm and hand (make a fist)
  • Left arm
  • left forearm and hand (again, making a fist)
  • Right leg
  • lower right leg and foot
  • Left leg
  • lower left leg and foot
Practice, practice, practice until you are happy to create your own unique shortened version, which includes the four main muscle groups:
  • face
  • neck, shoulders, and arms
  • stomach and chest
  • legs and feet.
With repeated practice you can relax your whole body to de-stress in the most anxious of situations.

3. STAY GROUNDED

This is one of my clients’ favourite go to techniques to alleviate feelings of anxiety. It is especially useful for sufferers of panic attacks. It is a very fast, simple, yet effective method for regaining control and composure when anxiety threatens to quickly take over.

If we use our five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste it can bring our mind back to the present before our imagination takes over and allows us to fear the worst case scenario of an attack.

When you are beginning to feel anxious, lost or fearful do the following

Look around at your surroundings and identify FIVE things you can SEE.
Then identify FOUR things you can HEAR.
THREE things you can FEEL – which can be anything from your feet in your shoes to an item around you or even the floor.
TWO things you can SMELL.
ONE thing you can TASTE, even if it’s the toothpaste from brushing your teeth.

4. BAND TOGETHER

It is often our thoughts that govern our feelings, leading to anxiety and stress. How many times do you find yourself in a situation when that unwanted thought pops into your head? It almost seems to take pleasure in telling us a situation isn’t safe or that you can’t get through a particular task. Quite often the more you try to distract yourself the worse you feel. As these feelings grow the worst your symptoms become. In this situation the following technique can work astonishingly fast and temporarily stop these negative thoughts and unwanted feelings in their tracks.

Use an ordinary elastic band and place it around your wrist. Whenever you hear that unwanted thought just pull the elastic band and let it snap on your wrist. It should not be painful but a sharp short reminder to let that thought go. When you snap the band replace the thought with a vivid mental picture of something pleasant. A person, a place or event, whatever it is, really allow yourself to feel that positive energy through your entire body. Over time you can use this technique to also stop any negative language you use about yourself, for example “I can’t” or “I’m not clever enough “.

5. JOYFUL JAR

While it can be easy to focus on the day to day anxieties we face in our lives, all too often we forget to celebrate the amazing things we already have. The Joyful Jar is a really lovely and tangible way to remember all the special things we are and have around us.

Find a jar or anything that is special to you. Maybe it’s the colour, shape or style that you love. Now each and every day write something down on a piece of paper or card that meant something lovely, peaceful or grateful in your life. The list is endless but could include:
  • Family
  • Friends
  • A kind gesture
  • Your health
  • A sunny day
  • A pleasant surprise
  • Children laughing
  • Visiting a new place
  • Helping someone
  • Hobby
  • A helping hand
  • Today reminded me of…
  • Something you learned
Whatever means an “attitude of gratitude” to you, write it down and put it in your jar. Each week, month or even at the end of the year empty the jar or pick just one card to read out. Read it aloud and really immerse yourself in that memory and how good it felt at the time and how good it feels as you read it out.

The above techniques can play a major role in helping you to cope with anxiety, stress, panic attacks or fearful feelings in general. If you want to learn more about ending your anxiety and building confidence and empowerment, then why not contact me for a FREE telephone consultation.