4 Subtle Exercises to Calm Anxiety in Public
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults over 18 suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you are one of them, you know how difficult your life can feel most days.
When anxiety strikes, the world around us can become overwhelming. It is important to be able to self-soothe in these instances. But how can you calm an anxiety attack subtly when you’re out in public?
As soon as you feel the anxiety coming on, focus intently on your breathing and nothing else. Begin to take slow… deep breaths. Inhale for a slow count of five… hold for a count of five… and exhale for a count of five. Slow deep breaths send a signal to our body that we are not under attack and everything is okay.
Talk to Yourself
In your mind, remind yourself that you are having an experience but that you are NOT that experience. While you feel that something is wrong, remind yourself that you are actually safe.
Think of something that calms you. This may be your childhood bedroom or your grandparent’s home. It could be your favorite beach or your own bathtub. Imagine yourself IN that space. Use your full imagination to feel yourself there and allow the calm to settle over you.
Practice Listening Meditation
Stopping and consciously listening to the sounds around you can be especially beneficial when you are feeling anxious, and here’s why. Listening requires you to stop thinking. Try it now. Stop reading and instead listen to all of the ambient sounds around you, wherever you are.
What do you hear? Let your sense of hearing grow, picking up more subtle sounds. The buzz of the lights overhead… the noise of the ice maker… a bee at the window… your dog walking down the hallway.
Much of our anxiety comes from our anxious thoughts. It’s our reptilian brain trying to keep us alive by alerting us to all of the dangers around us. But when we meditate, this mind chatter goes away.
When anxiety comes on strong, it is very uncomfortable and even frightening. The next time this happens to you in public, try one or more of these techniques.
And if you’d like to speak with someone about your anxiety, please get in touch. I’d be happy to explore therapy options.