Anxiety can affect anybody at any time. Anxiety is normally a tell-tale side-effect or symptom of other things that are affecting our mental well-being. When your stress levels are high it can be easier to become more anxious and what was a healthy level of anxiety can start to spiral.
To help reduce anxiety, you may want to find a release or way to expel nervous energy or tensions. This release may be physical, or emotional. The exercises below can be done by yourself as an adult, or you can use them to guide your child or young adult.
When you can safely express yourself without judgement, acknowledge and accept your worries you or your child will feel calmer.
The first exercise you can try to reduce anxiety is to journal. You do not have to keep a diary but at times of stress before bed, if your anxiety is preventing you from sleeping take a piece of paper and write down all of your worries you can express any frustrations grievances anything that comes to mind. do not worry about what you put on the paper empty your mind of anything that comes into it as you write when you feel you are finished place the paper into a box envelope or bag away from the sleeping area. You can then continue with your bedtime routine. If you wish to attend to the paper the following day then do so, if not it can Simply Be discarded.
The second exercise to help you or your child/children with reducing anxiety is to practise mindful breathing. When you take time to notice how you are feeling as you breathe, you will increase your self-awareness, and slowing the breathing down will help improve the flow of oxygen to the brain, sending calming signals to the rest of your body. You can do this in many ways, and there are videos online with different breathing tutorials. You may choose to breathe in silence, or with some calming music. But set aside 2-5minutes, sit comfortably, and slow your breathing down. Notice the sensations as you inhale and exhale. Clear your mind. The more you practise the quicker you will be able to return to a state of calm, and this technique can be done anywhere, without equipment. It’s brilliant for children in that sense, as you can breathe together, even if out walking. If you have much younger children and they too wish to practise breathing, you may find it useful to hold an object up and ask them to draw in a large breath, and try to blow the object down – it may be a fun game, but it will help them to breathe.
The third exercise you may wish to try is visualisation. There are also many videos for such a thing available online, including things like guided meditations or imagery. But a commonly used theme is that of a beach. You may wish to start with this simple one, and use your imagination to create others that hold significant feelings of peace, calm and relaxation for you.
Firstly, find somewhere comfortable to sit, or lie down and close your eyes. Breathe in deeply and imagine the sound of the sea, somewhere close by. You are surrounded by white sands – you can feel it in between your toes. Focus on what that might feel like. Can you imagine the smell of the sea air? The warmth of the sun on your skin. Continue to breathe in slowly, hold and exhale slowly. What other sounds might you hear? Birds? Waves chopping at the sand as they slowly roll in. Perhaps you are laying on a soft beach towel, and the heat from the sun has enveloped you, like a warm, velvet cushion, by the blue of the sea, with the rustle of trees nearby. Continue to picture in your mind all of the things that you may find on your paradise beach scene. Use your imagination to transport you to this tranquil place. Relax and focus on your breathing.
When you finish your time practising your visualisation, take your time, have a drink of water, and then ease yourself back into normal activity. The more you practise, the more relaxed you may find yourself.
These exercises can be used on their own, or mixed throughout your week and repeated as many times as needed – only you will know what works best for you. If you are experiencing higher levels of anxiety for long periods, without much improvement, and noticing that you feel irritated, withdrawn or lacking enthusiasm for your normal activities, or any other symptoms – talk to someone you trust, a family member, or your GP, who can refer you to professional help or assist you in recovery.