You can’t heal in the same environment that made you sick — the same goes for our headspace. In order to grow, you have to change, and that often starts with building up a toolbox of resources. When you’re anxious, the last thing you want someone to tell you is to calm down, but that’s exactly what needs to happen.
As the nature of anxiety tends to be future-oriented, the best way to quell it is to bring yourself back to the here and now — something that’s not easy when you’re on the brink of a panic attack or just can’t get out of your head. It’s essential to keep a few self-soothing tools in your back pocket; the ones ahead are perfect for when you need a fast-acting fix so you can ground down and figure out what’s really going on.
Managing your own anxiety needs a holistic approach that combines other modalities such as talk therapy, balanced nutrition and active attempts to reduce daily stress. Think of the following tips and tools as emotional supplements — they’re not going to cure everything, but they are going to work in a gentle yet effective manner to get you out of your own way so you can get to the heart of what’s propelling your anxiety. Whether you’re constantly quelling feelings of anxiety, only have the occasional bout, or are just really sensitive and need to learn how to self-soothe, these actionable techniques will help you manage anxiety now and later down the line…
8 Ways To Self-Soothe
Breathwork | Inhale slowly for 4 seconds, hold for 7, exhale for 8, repeat 10 times. One of our favorite ways to do this is by laying down on your back. Place your hands over your belly (skin to skin) and breathe into them — so much so that your hands rise as your belly does. Have your knees bent and knocked together. Consciously focus on the lower part of your leg and the bottom of your feet. Breathwork pro, Ashley Neese showed us this technique, and it honestly helps us feel grounded down fast.
Gentle yoga | You don’t have to go into a class, you can take one at home from online studios like Gaia. Focus mostly on your breathing, and just go through the poses one at a time. Be in your body. This will help bring you out of your head and into the moment where you can start to feel more grounded.
Gratitude journaling | Write a list of things you’re thankful for. It’s nearly impossible to remain overwhelmed by anxiety when you’re filling up with grateful feelings. Write down 5 things you’re grateful for and why. You could even tape it to a mirror or wall to remind yourself. Write a new list tomorrow — before you know it, you’ll have a whole inventory of good things in your life that deserve more of your attention than anxiety.
Grounding | There’s a practice called ‘grounding’ which, for those who are unfamiliar, is literally just walking in nature barefoot. Put your phone on silent and find somewhere to be in nature, even if it’s just a local park, and focus on finding something beautiful. Take it all in, and let yourself be immersed in the moment. It’s a thing.
Read out loud | This is a great way to manage anxiety in the moment. Reading out loud brings you fully into the present. It fills your brain with words and sounds and activity that isn’t related to your anxiety.
Body scan meditation | Find one on YouTube or use a meditation app on your phone — here are a few of our team’s faves. You could do this first as kind of a grounding ‘appetizer’ before doing something else from this list.
5,4,3,2,1 | There’s a grounding/ journaling technique called 5,4,3,2,1 that’s really effective at bringing you into the present. Here’s how to do it:
+ Write down 5 things you can see (look around the room or out the window)
+ Write down 4 things you can feel (the softness of your skin, the itchiness of your sweater, the smoothness of a chair etc.)
+Write 3 things you can hear (traffic, birds, air conditioner)
+Write 2 things you can smell (take a deep breath)
+Write 1 good thing about yourself. Take another deep breath and read over your answers.
Get Smart With Supplements | Get some nervous system-soothing adaptogens like reishi or pure full-spectrum hemp CBD and take it daily to soften your stress response and reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. Learn more about which (functional medicine doctor-approved) natural supplements are the best at helping to manage anxiety here.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.