When times are tough, we go through a lot of emotional ups and downs. Anxiety, fear, and sadness can take over in seemingly trivial moments. If these feelings are new, they can be overwhelming and at times downright paralyzing.
Remember that we are living in unprecedented times. This hasn’t happened before in our lifetime and there is no rulebook. It may be lonely sometimes, but you are not alone. We are all in this together.
In this article, we will suggest a few different things you can try when you are not feeling so good. When anxiety or panic overcomes you, try something different. We understand that taking major steps may not be possible for several reasons. So our list is simple, with options. If one isn't possible, try another. Some of the suggestions below build on top of another and can be “stacked” for better results.
Most of the suggestions are simple and focus on giving you that much-needed break from the vicious cycle of negative thinking, anxiety, and sadness.
Put a hand over your heart
When we are anxious or feeling low, our heart’s magnetic field is affected. The simple act of putting a hand over the heart can help in feeling secure, rooted, and safe. If you have a supporting partner, ask them to give you a hand, literally. A loving hand over your heart when you are feeling overwhelmed can ease anxiety greatly.
Repeat a mantra
Contrary to popular belief, mantras (or chants or incantations or even affirmations) are not always religious. A mantra can be anything – it is a word or a phrase you repeat out loud or in your mind several times. For instance, if you are feeling anxious, you could try, “This too, shall pass”, or “All is well”, and “I am okay”. Repeating this mantra with a hand on your heart several times till you feel okay, can help ease anxiety. Some other mantras you can try are:
“I am letting it go”
“I am enough”
“I am safe”
“I will get better”
“I am getting better with each passing moment”
Take deep breaths
While this one may sound simple and a suggestion you may be tempted to scroll by, take a moment to consider it. Stacking breathing with a mantra and a hand over your heart can be very powerful. Breathing in and out deeply helps lower the heart rate and calms you down physically. Breathing deeply for a long time can also help stimulate your hypothalamus which can help in achieving a calmer state. No matter where you are when you experience an episode, you will always have your breath. So even though this suggestion is simple, it's powerful and can be performed almost anywhere.
Count your blessings
No matter the situation you are in, you always have something to be thankful for in this life. The fact that you can read this article means that you are better off in life than most of the world’s population. Recounting the good things in your life can help you out of the negative thought cycle. Actively looking for the good in life also attracts more good, helping you move from a vicious negative circle to a happiness circle. Counting blessings keeps you grounded in the goodness of now.
Recount happy memories
While counting your blessings is being grateful in the present, recounting happy memories is being grateful for the past. No matter where you are today, and how you arrived here, you always have something positive to look back to. For instance, if you are dealing with the death of a loved one, look back to the beautiful moments you spent with them. Be grateful that you experienced that time, be grateful for the feelings of love and friendship you experienced.
Looking back and thinking about the good times not only helps in breaking the negative thought cycle but also lends a different perspective to the past. When most of us look back on our past hurts, we tend to forget the good times we've had. Recounting happy memories gives us a more realistic and balanced perspective of our experience. Everything that happened was not bad, even though everything that happened may not good.
Talk to a friend
If you are blessed with someone you can share your feelings with, ask for support. Picking up the phone and asking for help can feel vulnerable, but it can help a lot when you are struggling with your feelings. Just expressing what you are going through and sometimes, even just being heard is enough to calm our nerves. Knowing someone is there for us can be pivotal in our path to recovery.
This suggestion may feel odd at first, but there are several good reasons to drink a lot of water when you are experiencing difficult feelings. First, drinking water can distract us for a moment and give us that mental break to get out of the vicious circle of negativity and fear. Second, drinking water will replenish body fluids, balancing hormones and resources that may have been depleted and maybe responsible for the low emotional levels. Our bodies are 70% water. The simple act of drinking fluids can be powerful.
Take a shower
Just like drinking water can be therapeutic, taking a shower, laying in the pool or a bathtub can also be calming. Something about water has always calmed us humans. There is a reason we all go on a vacation to beaches, especially when work’s been too stressful and we need to blow off steam. While going on a vacation may not be possible for all of us, taking a shower is much easier. A cold shower can be refreshing and a hot shower can be calming. However, when you alternate between a hot and a cold shower, you increase blood circulation in the body and the brain, making it easier to change your mood and get out of a rut.
Watch a funny movie
If nothing is working and if you have the luxury of time, watch comedy movies. Movies and series that make you laugh and forget yourself for a little while. It helps in releasing resistance within yourself and also releases oxytocin or happy hormones.
Plan ahead for mood swings like these. Keep a YouTube playlist of inspiring videos ready, have kindle ebooks handy, learn a new skill or just read something positive. Be it work-related or otherwise, take steps to feel inspired and motivated. This will not only distract you from the negative spiral, but also make you sharper.