Generalized anxiety means you experience the symptoms of anxiety throughout daily life. It is not specific to any one particular event or place. This is difficult because you may be sitting at work and experience a tightening in your chest. Or you're on your way to school when you begin to feel very tense with a racing heart. Often people are sitting at home after their day is over and begin to feel uneasy in their own skin. Since there is no exact formula for when you may feel these uncomfortable effects of anxiety, it is important to have a few tricks in your bag to pull out when you need to calm these symptoms down at a moment’s notice.
The great thing about these tricks is you can use them literally anywhere without anybody around you noticing.
1. Distract yourself with sights and sounds. Look at your surroundings and label everything you see and hear. Describe all the colors in the room. Count the people walking by or ceiling tiles. This helps to focus your thoughts on the present moment.
2. Progressive muscle relaxation. Scan your body for tension. Tense each muscle and release it while breathing out your anxiety. You may find it helpful to say a word with your in breath such as ‘calm’ and exhale the tension from your body with the word ‘stress’. You can even visualize the calmness coming into your body through the fresh oxygen you are taking into your muscles, allowing them to relax. Then visualize stress and tension being expelled from your body as you blow the air out.
3. Self talk. Talk to yourself in your mind the way you would a friend or a child: "You are okay. You will get through this. This will pass." It sounds silly at first, but is extremely effective at soothing yourself.
4. Pictures. Take out your phone and look a pictures of your family and friends during a recent fun event together. Visualize an upcoming trip you are planning or other enjoyable activity.
5. Transitional items. Carry with you an item that makes you feel safe and secure. Examples: wearing a lucky piece of jewelry or clothing during a stressful day coming up, wearing your mom's necklace to feel like she is with you throughout the day; keeping a small rock in your pocket from your favorite vacation spot; or wearing a bracelet a friend gave you.