Anxiety is an excessive, unrealistic worry or psychological distress that leads to motor tension (restlessness), autonomic hyperactivity (symptoms such as shortness of breath and palpitations), and hypervigilance (insomnia or constantly feeling on edge).
In a study to estimate a 12-month prevalence of disorders, 40 million American adults, aged 18 and older, were reported to be affected by Anxiety disorders. Anxiety is generally caused by stressful or traumatic events which leads individuals to expect a potentially life-threatening event to occur in their future. In some cases it is a side-effect of an already present form of mental illness.
Most medical professionals tend to treat anxiety with the prescription of medications. However, there are available calming techniques for anxiety today that can help individuals faced with this condition. It is recommended that patients try different treatments or a combination of treatments to find what works for them because anxiety is not a straight-forward disorder to treat as it could depend on several factors specific to individuals.
Lets take a look at a few anxiety calming techniques that can help you deal with or prevent anxieties.
1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This involves using self-relaxation of muscles to distract the individual from the consciousness of the anxiety problems. During this process, different muscle groups are relaxed in a specific sequence. The patient has to be taught to figure out what muscles in the body are being stressed and how to voluntarily relax those group of muscles. The key is to release tension from the muscles when there is an external distraction or conflicting situation.
2. Slow Diaphragmatic Breathing: This is also known as Deep Breathing. During anxiety or panic attacks, an individual can hyperventilate (releasing more carbon dioxide and inhaling less oxygen). Therefore, deep breathing equilibrates the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body. The individual must be taught to inhale air deeply through the nose and then exhale from the mouth. Exhaling usually leads to a sigh of relief as it generally feels like some negative energy has been let out. The body is forced to breathe as the individual would in normal conditions, and this usually leads to a release of calming neurohormones. The key is to breathe in and out very slowly.
3. Yoga Breathing: ‘Pranayama’ is the yoga practice of controlling breathing. It originates from the word ‘Prana’ which is interpreted to mean the vital force circulating around us. This ‘Prana’ is what is channeled during yoga breathing. In this practice an individual connects moving the body with meditating. Basic pranayama is breathing slowly while imagining that the lungs are getting filled from the bottom toward the top. After that, it requires breathing out while imagining the lungs are being emptied in the reverse direction. There are also more advanced forms of yoga breathing available.
4. Autogenic Relaxation: Two things are necessary during this type of relaxation: visual imagery and the awareness of one’s body. The individual must use visual imagery to travel to a relaxing destination, for instance, a beach, and once there, forcefully repeat words or processes such as slowing the heart rate.
These calming techniques for anxiety are very useful not only for anxiety disorders but also during any other stress-related events either at home or at the work-place.
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2. Tranell, K. Calming Techniques that help with stress, anxiety [internet]. TheHuffingtonPost.com; 2013 February 27. Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/27/calming-techniques-stress-anxiety_n_2736457.html
3. Cummins, C. Prescriptions For Pranayama. Cruz Bay Publishing, Yoga Journal. Available from: http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/673