We all experience anxiety from time to time – so we can all benefit from learning the best ways of calming anxiety naturally.
We all know the feelings generated by an upcoming job interview, a major exam, or speaking in public. Just the very thought of them causes the adrenaline to pump, resulting in physical sensations such as rapid heart rate, tightness or pain in the chest, shaking, dizziness, sweating, shortness of breath, and nausea.
Originally, anxiety – along with all the associated symptoms – was meant to protect us from danger, and help us perform at our best. The “fight or flight” response was incredibly valuable to our ancient ancestors, when they were confronted by an angry lion or bear!
These days the situations that activate an anxiety response are not necessarily a matter of life or death, but rather occasions when we want to perform at our best; however the symptoms may actually hinder rather than help us.
This is where learning techniques for calming anxiety naturally can be of huge benefit.
When Anxiety Becomes Overwhelming
For some individuals, anxiety can become so forceful, and so frequent, that it can have a debilitating impact on their daily life. At this stage it has likely become an anxiety disorder.
The core of any anxiety disorder is worry about potential threats, and fears of not being able to cope. Once you notice anxiety symptoms, you may feel that you won’t be able to cope with the situation; consequently you become even more anxious, triggering a vicious cycle.
If anxiety has become a problem in your life, a psychologist can help you with strategies for calming anxiety naturally. In therapy, you will learn methods of relaxation that enable you firstly to recognise tension in yourself, as well as how to then release that tension from the muscles. Research has shown that self soothing strategies and meditation can also be effective.
Calming Anxiety Naturally
The good news is that whether you are facing a job interview or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, by changing your breathing, you can greatly reduce your anxiety symptoms.
Scientific studies have shown that diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful way to promote relaxation. Consciously slowing your breathing allows your body to calm down, and take control of the nervous system.
How To Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing
Lie down flat on your back or stand in a relaxed manner, feet slightly apart, and knees loose. Rest your hands on your abdomen. This will help you to notice if you are breathing deeply enough, and whether your chest is tight.
Breathe in slowly through your nose – so that your stomach moves out against your hand, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. The pace of exhaling and inhaling should be slow and steady. Counting in your mind as you breathe in and out can help you to maintain even breaths.
For best results, practice diaphragmatic breathing regularly. The most effective practice involves 1 minute at a time, 10 to 15 times a day.
Difficulties with Practising Diaphragmatic Breathing
Some people find that they have trouble concentrating on their breathing. The best way to handle this problem is to acknowledge your thoughts and redirect your attention to your breath.
Others become even more anxious when they start breathing quietly; this is usually caused by distressing emotions. Again, seeing a psychologist can help you to slowly work through your emotions, and reduce anxiety symptoms.
If you have been plagued by anxiety, reaching out to find a therapist can seem like a big step. However I can assure you that beginning therapy, and learning how to take control of your symptoms, can be a great relief!
Author: Claire Pang, B Psych (Hons), Masters of Clinical Psychology.
Claire’s work in the hospital environment, the disability sector and private practice has expanded her knowledge and skills in helping people dealing with life’s challenges, such as better managing the symptoms of anxiety. She gains great fulfillment and inspiration through witnessing human resilience again and again in her clinical work.
To make an appointment with Clinical Psychologist Claire Pang, you can book online or freecall 1800 877 924 today.
- Leahy, L. (2012) Treatment plans and interventions for depression and anxiety disorders. New York: Guildford Press.
- Andrews, G. (2003). The treatment of anxiety disorders: clinician guides and patient manuals. New York: Cambridge University Press.