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The best anxiety management tools are those that can be used most anywhere, take little time to perform, and are immediately effective.
One of the best tools to quickly relax, or nip a panic attack in the bud, comes from Steve Pavilanis, author of the book A LIfe Less Anxious. It can be used nearly anywhere or anytime, takes a whopping 10 seconds to do, and its effect is immediate.
This instant calming technique works because it engages our body’s parasympathetic nervous system, a part of our autonomic nervous system. The parasympathetic network allows our body to “rest and renew” after we have experienced stress. It counteracts the body’s “fight or flight” stress response by slowing the heart rate, dilating blood vessels, and generally restoring equilibrium.
You can pull out this tool to address any type of anxiety. Use it when anxious thoughts keep you awake at night, before speaking with the boss about a raise, before speaking in public, or in an elevator when you feel the discomfort of rising panic.
You will likely notice an immediate reduction in anxiety and may find that one 10 second session is enough. However, the technique can be repeated as necessary.
Relaxation techniques such as this are a welcome part of an anxiety first aid kit. However, learning to live with less overall anxiety usually means making adjustments to habitual ways of thinking and reassessing the beliefs we hold about ourself. Sometimes we must face painful situations from the past, or learn better skills for coping and communicating.
Quite often, we cannot make these adjustments alone. We need the experience, encouragement, and objective perspective of a caring person (or people). Individual or group counseling, and anxiety support groups can be a great help.
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