Anxiety Resources

Anxiety is your body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. Anxiety can manifest in many ways, like jitteriness, nervousness, increased heart rate, sweating, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, and changes in eating habits. 

Stressful situations — a big test, public speaking, a first date — might make you feel anxious, but that feeling will probably pass once the source of the stress is gone. If you have an anxiety disorder, the fear and dread do not go away even when the source of the stress is gone.

Often, our first instinct is to avoid an anxiety-producing situation by procrastinating or physically avoiding the situation. Although this might lead to an immediate feeling of relief, the feeling doesn’t last long, and next time we’re confronted with that original anxiety-producing situation, we’re likely to feel even more anxious.

If you’re feeling anxious, try one of the following techniques: 

  • Box Breathing: One of the physical symptoms of anxiety is quicker and shallower breathing. To combat this, try to breathe in deeply and slowly while counting to four. Hold the breath while counting slowly to four, and then breath out while slowly counting to four. Hold your lungs empty while counting slowly to four. Repeat this until your breath is steady and calmer. It can also be helpful to imagine a box in your mind, with each side representing each of the four steps
  • Count Down: First, identify five things that you can see. They can be big (like a tree) or small (like a stain on your clothes). List them off to yourself, one at a time. Do the same with four things you can hear, three things you can smell, two things you can physically feel. Finish off the exercise with one deep breath
  • Put It On Paper: Write out everything that’s whizzing around in your mind using a pen and paper. Writing it out can sometimes help you identify rational versus irrational worries, while physically writing it out (versus typing) is a slower and more methodical practice that can help calm you down. Writing things out on paper is a way of diffusing from your thoughts and creating some space between your worries and yourself
  • Reframe the Narrative: Sometimes, we get caught in unhelpful thinking patterns that can trick our brains and amplify anxiety. For example, we might use all or nothing thinking (“If I’m not perfect, I’ve failed), a mental filter (noticing our failures while ignoring our successes), or emotional reasoning (“I feel embarrassed, so I must be dumb”)
  • Freeze: One of your body’s reactions to stress is to produce more cortisol. Cold temperatures from a splash of icy cold water to the face, holding an ice pack to your body, or sucking on an ice cube can help offset the feelings of cortisol rushing through your body
  • Walk It Out: Movement can help relieve some symptoms of anxiety. For instance, going for a walk can help you shake out the physical and mental jitteriness that often accompanies anxiety. Walking also changes the way you breathe, which can also provide a sense of quick relief. While walking in nature has been shown to have powerful benefits, even a walk down the hall and back can help