Beat anxiety – in the moment.

Multiple recent studies have shown that – in the last two years globally – the number of people suffering from anxiety disorders has increased significantly. No surprises there.

Anxiety is complex, and often needs a multi-faceted, whole-system approach. So an expert should consider hormones, gut, genetics, diet, history, thought patterns, and many other possible contributing factors.

What I am surprised by though, is how little information there is out there on simple (and free) tools that can be used to make a big difference to anxiety in the moment. So today, I’m sharing three anxiety-tackling techniques that I love and are shareable:

1. Nose breathing

Your nose is specifically designed for breathing (I cover this in depth in my online Breathe into Being program) and, when you breathe through your mouth, the nervous system thinks you’re being chased by a tiger. The mouth is an emergency source of breathing and the message is clear: mouth breathing is equal to danger. If you make only one change, let it be this: Breathe through your nose.

2. Lengthen your exhale

A simple practice of lengthening your exhale will go a long way to sending the message that you are safe. Inhale for 4 and exhale for a count of 8 and your body will begin to calm down. This is a great practice that can be done in traffic, in the queue at the supermarket, or even around the boardroom table.

3. The 5-4-3-2-1 technique

This technique takes you out of your thoughts and brings you back to the present. One of my teachers told me this story many years ago.

“Let’s say you’re afraid of being bitten by a shark? One day you go swimming in the ocean and you get bitten by a shark. Your fear is no longer being bitten by a shark, you are now fearful of losing your leg. Fear is always in the future. By using this exercise you bring yourself back to the present and out of those ‘what if’ thoughts of the future.”

The 54321 exercise is simple. Notice: 

5 things you can see

4 things you could touch

3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell

1 thing you can taste

This simple exercise will bring you back to the present and help you out of the negative thought cycle. It is effective when you find yourself spiralling down into the “what ifs” and I have even used it with a client during session who was in the beginning stages of a panic attack.

These three tools (alone or in combination) are great for situational or even chronic anxiety and will help you come back to the present.

If you are suffering from anxiety, consider reaching out to our team at Hanya House. In addition to the Functional Medicine starting point, we use functional movement therapy, breathwork, life coaching, sound and community events to share invaluable information and tools that people can put into practice immediately. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out by clicking here.