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3 Coping Techniques for Anxiety

Top three methods of calming an anxious mind

Throughout my journey of therapy, I've had the opportunity to learn and use different coping methods to help combat my day-to-day anxiety while doing the work to find healing overall. These techniques became pivotal methods of managing my anxious thoughts over the last few years. They may prove useful to you in your struggle with anxiety or even in managing stressful days. Here are three coping techniques for anxiety.

1. Calm Place

Early on in my counseling journey, I was guided by my therapist to establish a mental calm place. This concept is sometimes known in a more general sense for when people wish to escape their current stress or circumstances and just go to their "happy place." Establishing a calm place that is more intentionally created and implemented takes that "happy place" to the next level.

For me, I began by taking the time to create the mental calm place with all the details. For example, choosing a beach cove that can be night or day, rain or shine depending on my mood. Then, establishing different sensations I would experience in that calm place such as feeling the sand and swimming in the water. When anxious thoughts begin to happen, I find some space alone, close my eyes, take some deep breaths, and then I can visualize that calm place and myself in it so that I am able to bring my anxiousness down to a manageable level.

This calm place can be whatever you wish to create, and the mental image you do create can also change and fluctuate as you need it to. Sometimes even playing sounds in the background that might match your calm place (such as waves for an ocean scene) can help you more easily picture and take yourself mentally to that place. This method has been very helpful in helping me calm not only my mental anxiety but also calm the physical feeling of anxiety in my body.

2. 5-4-3-2-1

When spiraling anxious thoughts are running through your mind and you find it hard to focus on what's happening right in front of you, it can be helpful to find a way to ground yourself to the present and to the room around you. 5-4-3-2-1 is an effective way to bring yourself back to the present environment and transfer the focus of your thoughts away from the stressful and anxious worries.

First, notice and name out loud, or internally, five things you can see in the space around you. Next, choose four things in your surroundings that you can feel, and then touch them. This can be as simple as your shirt, a desk, a water bottle or even your hair. Third, listen for and name three things that you can hear around you. Then, notice two things you can smell. One recommendation I was given was to carry an aromatherapy oil scent that I could dab on my wrists and smell for this step. You can also notice scents like the smell of your shampoo or the lotion you use.

Lastly, there are two options for number 1. Some people use the last one to notice something they can taste, however that was not how I was taught to use the last number. Instead, I end this grounding technique by asking myself 'what is one thing I need?' and then either meet that need at that moment if possible or create a plan for how I can meet that need at a later time. For example, I can pray in that moment if that's what I need, or I can schedule alone time later that night if that's what I need.

The combination of all these steps can be very helpful in helping refocus and center my mind on what is happening around me. Also, they allow me to recognize and validate my needs and find a way to meet them. This is a great method to better function when I might not be able to give myself the time and space to really sit with and process my anxious thoughts.

3. Container

The last coping strategy that has been crucial for my anxiety both in and out of a counseling session is the container method. Like the 'calm place' technique, this one involves mental visualization. The purpose of using a mental container is to have a method for 'containing' disturbing, unsettling, unpleasant, anxious, or otherwise triggering thoughts, images, or feelings.

It starts off by creating a mental image for your container. This can look like a safe, a big box, a trash can. Then create a method for sealing and locking that container mentally. Once this is done, visualize the key and you being the only one who has that key and has access to open and close that container. You can even further visualize it by having your name on the container.

Once the image is established, you now have a mental way of taking whatever may be triggering your anxiety or making you stressed and safely putting it into a container where it gets to stay forever or for as long as you need. You get to decide if it needs to come out at some point on your healing journey to address it, or if it's something that is safer left in the container. It's all in your control.

This technique gives you a visual way to not simply shove under the rug and ignore whatever is making you anxious, but rather visualize and contain it. It has proved very useful for me, especially with having OCD and intrusive thoughts that I wish to contain. It helps you feel safe and strong in your mind by giving you a powerful way to help control and manage anxious thoughts.

While these techniques have been useful for me in my struggle with anxiety, there are many more out there if you wish to try others. I chose to focus on these three as they've been the most personally beneficial on my journey. If you have your own techniques you'd recommend to others or try one of these out and wish to share your experience, please leave a comment below!

*** Anything written in this blog is based on my own personal experience and not a professional opinion. If you or someone you know is struggling with any mental health issue, please speak to a professional. For a list of some mental health resources and contacts available to you, please download the file below. ***

For more blogs on mental health, check out the mental health page! And if you wish to stay up to date on all future mental health or travel blog posts, subscribe below! Thank you for reading!

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4 comentários

Victoria Brown
24 de mai. de 2023

Love the method! It has helped me tremendously and my daughter. Very good grounding technique!!

Mind on the Path
Mind on the Path
25 de mai. de 2023
Respondendo a

It’s definitely been one of the best ways to help ground me when my mind is spiraling. I love how tangible it is in getting me to re-focus on my surroundings! Thank you so much for reading! 😊


Kayla Mitchell
Kayla Mitchell
16 de mai. de 2023

Loved loved this!! I personally use 2 of these and loved learning about the third! Thank you ask much for sharing your journey through mental health and sharing useful techniques on how to manage anxiety.

Mind on the Path
Mind on the Path
19 de mai. de 2023
Respondendo a

I’m so happy you found something helpful from the post! It’s been amazing having this opportunity to write about my mental health journey to hopefully help someone else out there experiencing a similar struggle. 💕

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