Mar 19

Anxious? Three quick ways to cope

Anxious? Many people with ADHD traits are. It goes along with having a quick mind and a lot of interests.

Heart racing? Butterflies in stomach? I understand. I’ve been there.

What do you do when you are anxious about everything you have to do? Do you try to calm down but find it difficult or impossible?

There are no shortcuts or secrets. But with patience and perseverance, your anxiety will ease.

There are many ways to work with anxiety. But first, don’t try to force yourself to relax. Don’t struggle. Accept your feelings. Be there with them like a good friend would do. They want your attention, so let them have it.

But then, switch the channel and focus on your breath. Host your anxiety, but find the space around it.

In mindfulness meditation, we allow the breath to come and go, without trying to control it in any way. But sometimes other breathing methods can be helpful.

Here are a few techniques to use on the spot. Try them and see which ones work best for you.

1. Breathe in through your nose. On the inhale, feel the air expand your diaphragm/lower stomach. Feel your ribs expand. Feel your lungs filling from bottom to top.

Then, breathe out through slightly pursed lips. Drop your shoulders and make the exhale as long as you can. Pull your stomach in at the end to release the last bit of air.

Then begin another breath. Do this several times.

2. This one comes from Allen Elkin, director of New York’s Stress Management and Counseling Center:

Take a deep breath through your nose. Hold it a little longer than is comfortable. At the same time, squeeze your thumb and forefinger together for six or seven seconds. Then exhale slowly through your mouth, release the pressure from your fingers, and allow all your tension to drain out. Repeat these deep breaths three times to extend the relaxation. With each breath, allow your jaw to drop and your body to relax.

3. Exhale completely through your mouth. Then, inhale through your nose to a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale through your mouth to a count of eight. 4:7:8.

Do this three more times.

You can use these breathing techniques whenever you are stressed, tense, or something upsetting happens. You can also use them before you go to sleep.

“Breath is the bridge, which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Learn to practice breathing in order to regain composure of body and mind, to practice mindfulness, and to develop concentration and understanding.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Author, and Nobel Prize nominee