As a psychotherapist in downtown Hoboken, NJ I see a lot of clients who experience anxiety. I help kids, teens, young adults (20’s and 30’s year olds), and parents with anxious feelings. Anxiety can present in different ways including agitation, nervousness, feeling on edge, obsessive/repeated thoughts, rapid speech, and/or trouble relaxing. The most common thing my clients want to know is how to relax. While I specialize in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) I can also help clients feel physically more relaxed as they work on decreasing their overall anxiety. Below are 5 different ways you can try to relax and find calmness.
Anchor Therapy is a counseling center in Hoboken, NJ with psychotherapists specialized to help teens and adults with anxiety, depression, and life transitions.
Yoga is a great way to help you feel calm as it will help refocus your anxious thoughts on your movements and breathing. Yoga can help you find your breath and assist in taking larger and longer breaths with more purpose. You will learn to move your body along with the in and out of your breath. This is great for not only your physical health, but also your nervous system and your mind. Attending a yoga class or practicing at home will carve out specific self-care time in which you don’t think about the stressors of the day. The goal of yoga is to increase your strength and flexibility, but also to be more aware in the present moment. This can actually help you in your daily stressful life. If you find yourself stressed while at work or school then you can pause, take some deep breaths, refocus your anxious thoughts, be aware of your surroundings, and then take on the stressful problem at hand with more ease and calm.
This has become more popular with my clients as there are many apps, youtube videos, podcasts, and classes that include guided meditaton. Meditation helps you in a similar way as yoga in which it can help clear your mind, get you to focus on the present, and will help you be in tune with your breathing. Meditation takes it to the next level in which you start to really be in sync with your thoughts and you can feel in control of what you are thinking and feeling for the moment. For your first few guided meditations, it is common if you find your mind wondering and having a hard time to focus at the task on hand. It’s also common that you find yourself in such a relaxed zenlike state that you fall asleep (been there!) It takes many times of meditation to truly get to a place in which you feel you are in control of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Practice makes perfect- and this is especially true with meditation. You need to practice it over and over to get good at it. Even if it’s just 5 minutes before bed each night. Your brain is like a new muscle that you need to exercise so when you use it in a new way, you need to continue to do so in order to train it to do what you want. If you practice meditation and get to a point in which you feel in sync with your breath, body, and thoughts then you will find the ultimate sense of calm. Outside of your meditation practice, you may find yourself feeling more calm in your daily life. You will also be able to refocus unwanted, anxious thoughts that automatically come into your mind. Meditation can really give you a sense of control in your life.
If yoga and meditation are not for you then that is okay. You may find that you are a creative person and that is a way to sort through and express your anxious thoughts. You may find that writing in a journal, writing a song, creating a poem, drawing, coloring, painting, etc. will help you feel more calm. Creating uses a different part of your brain so you will be able to refocus your anxious thoughts onto the task at hand. You may also find that in your artwork, your worries are now outside of your brain and on paper in front of you. This can help you sort through your anxious thoughts and really get them out of your mind so that you can feel more calm and less overwhelmed.
Start a Puzzle:
Puzzles are a great way to induce calm. I would recommend finding a large puzzle (1,000 pieces or more) and get started. I personally like to find a fun Disney puzzle and listen to a Disney song playlist on Spotify when I do puzzles. This creates a fun and relaxing atmosphere. The only thing I’m focusing on is the task at hand of putting the puzzle together. There may be times that you’re frustrated if you can’t find a piece that fits. You can always take breaks and come back to it. This should be a relaxing activity that helps create a time of calm in your busy day. You may want to work on the puzzle at night after a long stressful day to help transition out of the stressful work mindset and back into a sense of calm at home.
This is an activity that some people find calming and some find stressful. Cooking and baking are other ways that you can use the creative side of your brain. Have fun with it! This should not be a time limited activity that needs to be presented perfectly to a party of people. It shouldn’t be as stressful as a cooking show you watch on TV in which they have 20 minutes to present a perfect meal. When I say cooking or baking, I mean for your own enjoyment. There should not be a time restriction. You can put on an apron, some music you enjoy and start creating! If you are feeling anxious, you want to pick a recipe that’s not too difficult for you. You then get going and start to use this time to refocus your anxious thoughts into focusing on your cooking task at hand. You may find over the course of your cooking/baking that you are starting to unwind from the outside stress you felt before. At the end, you hopefully have a delicious meal or dessert to eat! If it doesn’t come out great, then you at least had an enjoyable, relaxing time and you can now order in take-out. :P
There are so many ways in which someone can practice self-care and relax. Even if you experience anxiety symptoms daily, it is still possible to take at least a few minutes out of each day to practice self-care and relax. You want to find time to slow down those anxious thoughts and get your body to physically relax. If you find this extremely difficult, then I recommend finding a mental health professional who can help assist you in ways to decrease your anxious symptoms.
Courtney Glashow, LCSW
is a licensed psychotherapist practicing in Hoboken, New Jersey. She specializes in helping teens and adults with anxiety, depression, and life transitions through counseling. Courtney can help NY or NJ residents through telehealth (video/phone) therapy sessions as well.