Practical Ways of Stabilizing Bodily Responses to Anxiety
In university, it is so easy to get caught up in all the business and noise of student life and become anxious beyond all measure. However, sometimes the solution to this is more simple than one may think.
When we are feeling anxious, we get a variety of physical symptoms like being cold and shaky, a fast heart rate, heavy breathing, etc. But how do we control this? First we must remind ourselves that these bodily responses to anxiety are harmless. There is no danger attached to the symptoms themselves. Then it is important to slow your breathing. A good way to slow your breathing is to direct your breathing into your belly, which ensures that you’re breathing deeply. As well, take twice as long to breathe out than you did breathing in. If you breathe in for five seconds, breathe out for ten. Another method that many people use to control their breathing is the five-finger method. This method is simply tracing one hand with a finger on your other hand, and as you trace up one finger you breathe in and as you trace down you breathe out. Something else that may help you re-center is to warm up. This could mean that you run your hands under warm water for a few minutes, making some tea, snuggling up in some blankets, or looking at photos of or thinking of warm settings. Looking at a photo of something warm or that brings you joy for a couple minutes can actually provide us with a sense of calm.
On top of all of these things, it is important to remember that as beings who heal holistically, and as Christians, turning to God with our worries can really help. A little time to take in God’s word and bring our worries to God’s feet can feel like a weight off our shoulders. Even though it’s easier said than done, it is helpful to remember that once you lay your worries before God, you don’t have to pick them back up.
As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can attest to how difficult it can be to calm down in the midst of a panic. Everything around me becomes a little foggy, a little muffled, and I just want to be alone. Taking just a moment to be mindful of my breathing and remembering the fact that physiological symptoms do not indicate real danger makes a huge difference. I think it is a pretty safe assumption that we do not want to spend a lot of time being anxious. So we should take the time to take care of ourselves, calm down, and re-center.