Anyone with anxiety knows that some days are harder than others. Anxiety flare-ups can keep you from completing normal, everyday tasks and, honestly, they can make life miserable. Although there’s no universal way of dealing with anxiety, trying out new coping mechanisms can help you find the one that’s right for you. So in honor of Stress Awareness Month, we asked stress expert Jodi Aman to recommend her go-to anxiety hack to stifle anxiousness.
Aman is an experienced psychotherapist, self-proclaimed “anxiety-tamer,” and author of several books, including You 1 Anxiety 0. Her method for overcoming anxiety in the moment is a mental practice.
"If you stop being afraid of the feeling then it will go away," Aman told us. "Anxiety needs you to be scared because that continues the release of hormones."
The process of convincing yourself that you’re unafraid is easier said than done, and Aman is well aware of that. “The problem is that it feels scary,” she said. “But when you know you are not in danger, tell yourself it is just hormones that you don’t need to be scared of and it will go away.”
Like many coping techniques, you can tailor-fit this anxiety hack to work for you. Create your own mantra to remind you you’re not in danger. Visually remind yourself of your surroundings and tell yourself you’re safe. Take however long you need — one, two, or five minutes — to push the feeling of danger away.
Aman also recommends pairing this mental activity with a physical activity to dampen the anxious feelings. She told us,
"The combination of not being scared, 'I know what this is, it is just hormones, it'll [go] away soon,' and taking some kind of action allows the brain to release the GABA hormone which puts the breaks on anxiety. The action could be breathing, walking, cleaning something, taking a shower, organizing your junk drawer."
In short: Pull back the curtain on your brain and tell it you know there’s nothing for you to be afraid of. You see what it’s doing and you don’t appreciate it.
Accept that it might take some time and practice to figure out a phrase/activity combination that works best for you. What’s most important is that you find a way to take the feeling of danger out of the equation. Give yourself time to conquer this technique and you could end up with a potentially life-changing anxiety hack under your belt.