Many people struggle with anxiety every day. Recent NAMI statistics show that nearly 40 million adults struggle with it. However, that doesn’t mean 40 million people aren’t living a good life, as anxiety can be managed through lifestyle routines, exercise, sleep and many other techniques. However, sudden panic attacks can be an added challenge as your mind is suddenly racing, and your body feels overwhelmed.
Working with anxiety isn't always easy, especially when you’re in a public or unfamiliar space and don't have access to your usual coping mechanisms. Some quick things can still be done to help manage anxiety. Try these ten quick tips to help manage stress in just 5 minutes.
1. Fix Your Posture
Your mind and body are always connected, and posture is no exception when it comes to making an impact on both. According to the National Library of Medicine, those who maintain good posture during conversations tend to have a more positive self-image and mood than those who don’t. Additionally, those who slouch tend to use negative language, while individuals with good posture exhibit higher pulse pressure even after being stressed.
Do you experience poor posture? Here are some indications you do:
- Back pain or discomfort;
- Fatigue or lack of energy;
- Slouching or hunching forward;
- Rounded shoulders or a forward head tilt;
Luckily, there are simple tips and tricks to help improve your posture:
- Straighten your spine by holding your head straight and tucking in your chin. Make sure your ears are over the middle of your shoulders.
- Strengthen your upper back, chest, and core muscles with exercises like isometric rows and scapula squeezes.
- Take breaks! Stand up and do a few stretches and shake out some energy every 30 minutes or so.
- Invest in supportive shoes and use a posture corrector to help align your spine.
Give these a try, it can make a world of difference!
2. Play the 5-5-5 Game
The 5-5-5 game is a simple grounding exercise that can help ease your mind and body and tap into your parasympathetic nervous system to help level you out.
Here's how to play:
- Find a calm and quiet place to take a moment.
- Inhale through your nose for 5 seconds.
- Exhale through your nose or mouth for 5 seconds.
- Wait 5 seconds.
- Repeat until you feel your body calming down.
This exercise can help you focus on your breath and reduce the intensity of anxious thoughts or feelings. And the best part? You can do it anywhere, anytime.
3. Look at Old Photos or Videos
When was the last time you scrolled through old photos or videos and had a good laugh or smile? Revisiting old memories via photos or videos can induce positive emotions and provide a temporary escape from everyday stress. Not only that, but it’s great for your mental health!
According to experts at HelpGuide, laughing can:
- Shift perspective;
- Help relax and recharge;
- Stop distressing emotions;
- Draw you closer to others;
And the benefits of laughter remain even after the moment subsides. So, the next time you're feeling blue, remember the healing power of laughter and throw on a funny movie or podcast to help get you through.
4. Go for a Walk
A five-minute walk may not seem like much, but it’s enough time to bring those anxiety levels down. Whether you go outside in nature and soak up the beauty or simply walk indoors, moving your body and increasing blood flow can make a big difference in how you feel.
Need help getting started? Try out these tips:
- If you're feeling overwhelmed, grab your most comfortable shoes, and take a stroll.
- If you're indoors, try walking around your home, office or building.
- If you're outside, find a quiet, secluded spot to breathe in the moment and focus on what’s around you.
- Focus your breathing, try to tap into the moment clear of thoughts, and focus on your current surroundings.
And there you have it; just a simple walk can pull you out of your anxiety.
5. Listen to Music
It’s almost too good to be true, but listening to music can truly brighten your mood, and in more ways than you think. As those melodies swim through your mind, they help to release dopamine and serotonin, which help to balance your mood. In addition, playing and listening to music can positively impact the immune system, stress levels, and social connections.
Creating or finding pre-curated playlists can be a great way to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Whether you prefer something to kickstart your day with a bang or need a more relaxed tune to keep you calm, every mood has a playlist. If you're overwhelmed and need to destress, try searching for calming music or instrumental tracks. For a quick mood boost, choose songs with upbeat tempos and positive lyrics.
Everyone breathes, it’s a natural part of being human, but it’s often overlooked when it comes to reducing stress. But taking time to monitor and reign in your breath can help ease that anxiety. Focus on taking a deep inhale, or try out one of these breathing techniques:
- Box breathing: inhale, hold, exhale, and hold again for 4 seconds each time.
- Belly breathing: place a hand on your belly, then inhale through your nose, hold, and exhale for 4 seconds each time.
- Alternate nostril breathing: close one nostril with your finger and inhale with the other. Hold. Switch nostrils on the exhale.
The power of deep breathing can be transformative, so don’t be afraid to give it a try.
Whether you're stretching for positivity or stretching for stillness, take a five-minute break at your workplace or home with some simple stretches like:
- Shoulder and neck rolls;
- Forward and side bends;
- Seated spinal twist;
- Chest opener;
- Child's pose;
These gentle-but-powerful exercises can help you ease stress and release tension from your muscles. Plus, they help to improve your flexibility, posture, and overall range of motion.
While meditation isn’t easy for everyone, it can be a powerful tool for releasing anxiety. Find a place to sit quietly, close your eyes, and clear your thoughts. Focus on your breath and being in the moment. It’s easy for your mind to wander, but do your best to gently redirect your attention back to your breath. Just five minutes is enough to release anxious thoughts and feelings.
If you're new to meditation, try using guided meditations or apps to help get you into the right mindset. Once you feel comfortable enough, try it on your own.
Affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself. They can help shift your mindset and boost your self-confidence.
Repeat these affirmations daily, especially in moments of stress:
- "I am capable of handling whatever comes my way."
- "The feelings of panic are leaving my body."
- "Today, I choose to think positively."
Whether you need affirmations for the morning or affirmations for anxiety, repeating these statements can help you stay in a more positive mindset.
10. Get Some Fresh Air
Seeking spirituality and spending time outdoors can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels. Grab your pup for a walk in the park, take your lunch break outside, or take a walk around your neighborhood. Harvard Health studies show that spending just 20 minutes outside in the great outdoors is realan help improve mood, energy level, and concentration.
Not only does your mood get a lift, but so does your physical health. From reducing inflammation to soaking up vitamin D, your body enjoys the outdoors too. Plus, the natural light helps regulate sleep cycles — so enjoy some time outside for a healthier lifestyle!
Don’t Feel Ashamed for Being Anxious
There’s no shame in anxiety, it’s a very normal emotion. It’s part of being human, and everyone feels anxious at some point in their life. It doesn't make you weak or less capable of handling situations, nor does it have to run your life. So instead of considering anxiety a burden, try to embrace it and use these coping strategies to help manage your feelings.
When you start to feel your anxiety climb back up, take note of what’s triggering you. Once you can identify these, you can make changes to help effectively control it. Doing so helps build resilience and increases self-awareness and overall mental well-being.