Chewing gum and holding an ice cube can help distract us in times of anxiety
Diseases, floods, earthquakes, financial insecurity – the reasons for anxiety are now so numerous that even the most cold-blooded among us begin to feel anxious. For some, it even becomes a way of life. They worry about everything, and even the smallest challenge can put them out of action for a long time.
Studies show that 284 million people worldwide suffer from some form of anxiety that affects their lifestyle.
And these are only those who have realized that this is becoming a problem for them and have sought professional help. Mass people think that when our surroundings are so uncertain, it’s only natural that we worry more. However, this is not quite the case, as in the end it also affects the physical condition. A person begins to feel permanently tired, suffer from headaches and heart palpitations. Avoids meeting other people because he finds social interaction stressful. He stops watching the news because it’s taxing him, and yet he can’t calm down.
“Part of dealing with anxiety means coming up with strategies to help you through those triggering moments. For social anxiety, this usually means activities and events involving other people,” says therapist Kelly McKenna. According to her, first of all, it is good
to identify the causes of anxiety,
so you can map out a plan to deal with them.
For example, one of the signs of social anxiety is not knowing how to continue a conversation. This is an extremely unpleasant moment, as you feel that you are falling into the situation, and there is no way to get out of it without the others noticing. However, if you use reflective listening skills – ie. you watch what words the other person uses and based on them you formulate your question or judgment, you can more easily continue the conversation. It’s also helpful to have a few small topics in stock that you can freely chat about and use when you get stuck with others. Or ask a friend or colleague, in whose company you feel safe, to accompany you to places where you are uncertain.
“Worry is essential to our survival and actually improves our performance when we need it. But when it becomes a problem, it interferes with normal life,” says Dr Kieran Schnack to the Daily Mail.
She has 20 years of therapeutic practice in England and has seen thousands of patients with anxiety disorders. From interacting with them, she has learned that anxiety tends to occur at certain times in life such as puberty, leaving home and going to university, beginning romantic relationships and careers, changes in relationships, having children of your own, menopause, aging and retirement, moving or bereavement of a loved one. And if one fails to deal with it in time, it can become a way of life. Constantly thinking catastrophically, pessimistically, or overgeneralizing, ignoring all the positives in a given situation and focusing only on the negatives.
“Whatever form your anxiety takes, an essential aspect of overcoming it is to address and manage the thoughts associated with it. This will help you see that
anxiety does not appear suddenly,
and you’ll learn that it’s not as out of control as it may seem,” advises Kieran Schnack.
An easy way to identify negative thoughts is to write them down in a notebook or on your phone, noting the date and circumstances of their appearance. Also have another column where you can mark yes and no if the thing you were worried about happened. By doing this, you will soon notice that there is a very clear distortion between your anxious perception and reality, explains the English psychotherapist.
She recommends that during stressful times you also practice some distractions like chewing gum, as chewing gives a physical outlet for the nervous energy created by anxiety. It is also able to help relieve tension in the jaw and neck and improve your cognitive memory and concentration because it increases blood flow to the brain.
An ice cube is another effective remedy. “You can hold it in your hand or try to run it along the inside of your hand between your elbow and wrist. The strong
feeling cold acts very grounding,
bringing you into the present moment and away from anxious thoughts,” reveals Kieran Schnack.
Counting backwards from 5000 to 500, for example, is also a tried-and-tested trick to distract the mind from anxious thoughts. By focusing on it, you give yourself a break from imagining catastrophic scenarios. Also, as you count, you synchronize your breathing along with saying each number, which helps to slow it down and make you feel more relaxed.