Ways to feel better
When you feel nervous, scared, worried or anxious, there are many possible ways to feel better. Try different strategies to find ones that work for you. A few of these helpful strategies are known as: Relaxation, Distraction, Self Talk, Meditation and Tell Your Brain to Be Quiet.
When you are anxious, try deep breathing as a beginning helper. Deep breathing is sometimes called “belly breathing” because you push out your whole belly at the same time as you breathe in. That makes your whole chest fill up. Breathe in through your nose (or smell the roses) …1, …2, …3… then squeeze your belly in and slowly breathe out (or blow out the candles) …1, …2, …3
Muscle relaxation and stretching can also help. Tighten and relax each part of your body (feet, then calves, then legs, …), then all of it. Tighten slowly … 1, …2, …3 …. Then relax slowly … 1, …2, …3 ….Feel your whole body relax. Or stretch your muscles slowly and then let go.
Thinking or doing something else—distracting your own attention—can be very helpful. Remember, though, the distraction has to be interesting enough to get your attention. Thinking distractions include remembering or imagining something fun. These distractions are great because you can do them anytime and anywhere! Doing something fun like games, movies, playing with friends, drawing, reading, building, music, singing, dancing and humor are excellent ways to distract. Remember, the magic way to distract yourself is to PLAY!
Talk to yourself!
Talking to yourself is basically about three things: get the facts, tell yourself you are OK, and tell your brain to be quiet!
Getting the facts and thinking about the truth when you are calm is simply using “reason.” This means asking yourself: Does the fear make sense? How likely is this fear? Has the fear ever happened? If it has never happened, it probably, probably, probably won’t happen.
By telling yourself that you are OK you remind yourself that nothing bad is really happening. You feel bad only because of your fear brain accidentally going off.
Telling your brain to be quiet is like bossing your fear brain around! Tell your fear brain: “Be quiet!” “Stop making those thoughts!” or “Go away!” Scary thoughts may be loud and seem true, but they can’t do anything, they are nearly always Not True!
When you focus on something really deeply and don’t notice the room around you any more, your brain is in hyperfocus and deeply calm. This is a way to meditate. Sometimes your favorite distractions make you feel deeply calm. You can also imagine using seeing, hearing and feeling. You can stare or notice only your breathing. You might play a sport. Breathing plus listening to music or imagining can be really helpful. Do more than one thing! Meditating can be done before you get anxious, when you are a little anxious or anytime!