Racing pulse, tense muscles, dry mouth, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating… The symptoms of anxiety are many, but sometimes we can’t pinpoint why exactly we experience this panicky feeling. Objectively, everything seems to be going well, and yet the sensations of anxiety are definitely there.
If you sometimes suffer from anxiety, you are not alone. According to several large scale surveys, up to one in three adults will be affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. In addition to anxiety disorders, most people are familiar with low-grade anxiety, where we are more or less still able to function despite the overwhelm.
However, it’s hard to focus, and all the bodily sensations that come with anxiety are not exactly pleasant. Worse, we often are anxious for no apparent reason: have no idea why we are feeling this way, and anxiety can randomly pop up at the most unexpected times.
Instead of trying to push through and hoping for our anxiety to disappear on its own, it’s much more helpful to press “reset”—to reset our body, our mind, and our plan. It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes, and will help manage your anxiety.
1. Reset your body
Anxiety can be a sign that you need a break. First, get up and stretch your body. Stretching will help you relax, with the bonus benefits of having a better posture and staving off back pain. It doesn’t need to be a full-on stretching session: a few dynamic movements and maintaining your muscles in a position to the end of their range of motion should be enough.
Then, drink a glass of water. Dehydration shares several symptoms with anxiety, such as having a dry mouth or feeling lightheaded. As with anxiety, it can also lead to tiredness. By stretching and drinking a glass of water, you will give your body a better chance to manage your anxiety.
2. Reset your mind
Turn your attention to your mind. Five minutes of journaling can do wonder to figure out what exactly is the cause of our anxiety. How are you feeling? Can you describe your emotions in words? When did the anxiety appear? What exactly could be worrying you right now? You may not be able to find out the exact cause, but you will have a list of potential culprits, and the act of journaling itself can be therapeutic.
Other mindfulness practices such as meditation may work too, but journaling is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reflect on your thoughts and emotions. And it’s practical as well: if you are sitting at a desk in a co-working space, nobody will wonder why you pull your notebook out.
3. Reset your plan
You should already feel a bit less anxious after resetting your body and your mind. Now, ask yourself: what is one thing you can do right now to make progress? Anxiety can stem from feeling stuck. Often, we just need a little confidence boost to get better. And immediately completing an easy step towards a bigger goal is a great way to achieve just that. Choose an action that doesn’t require too much mental energy and no extra planning. Resetting your plan means to stop worrying about the overall plan, and to focus on the present.
- Reset your body. Get up, stretch, and drink a glass of water.
- Reset your mind. Journal for five minutes to explore your emotions and your thoughts.
- Reset your plan. Do one easy thing that will make you progress.
That’s it. Again, those three steps should not take more than ten minutes. Anything longer may cause even more anxiety. Pressing “reset” needs to be easy and quick. The goal is to get rid of a random feeling of anxiety so you can get back on track.
Remember, if you are constantly feeling symptoms of anxiety or experience panic attacks, you may want to consult with a professional. It may also be a sign of impending burnout. Your mental health is one of your most precious assets. Good mental health allows us to achieve more and to enjoy our lives. Take care of your mind, whether it’s a quick reset or getting longer term support.