Have you ever been in a situation where you experienced undue stress and anxiety? You were away from your support system and didn’t have access to the tools necessary to alleviate your symptoms.
This is where a stress and anxiety relief kit can be beneficial. Carrying one around with you can give you access to tools that can calm and soothe that panic and stress.
Here is a guide to help you create a personalised stress and anxiety relief kit, so you are prepared for your next panic attack:
- Distance yourself from your anxieties
Sessions of anxiety often start with catastrophic thinking about an upcoming event. You start imagining the many ways you’ll embarrass yourself or you picture yourself tongue-tied during an interview, for example.
One way to reduce anxiety is to calm these racing thoughts. Don’t do this with basic mental force, simply trying to stifle the thoughts and push them out of your mind is unlikely to work and could even backfire. Instead, try to create some distance from the thoughts, to help you realise that thoughts can be wrong and are not self-fulfilling.
Having created this distance, calmly weigh the evidence for why you might make a fool of yourself, and then spend as much effort listing the ways that you might not. Remind yourself of times in the past when you’ve coped well.
- Ground yourself
If your mind is racing with catastrophic thoughts about what’s going to happen, your body responds: the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, bracing you for a threat – your breathing becomes fast and shallow, and adrenaline races to your muscles, which can cause you to tremble and feel faint.
A great way to diminish this reaction is to practice exercises that activate the parasympathetic nervous system, such as lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, and slowing your breathing. One exercise is called ‘grounding’, which helps you connect with the present moment and the environment around you, rather than being consumed by fears about the future. One popular way to do it involves:
- Pausing and naming five things you can see
- Naming four things you can feel
- Three things you can hear
- Two things you can smell
- One thing you can taste
Another technique that activates the soothing parasympathetic nervous system is to stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart and lean forwards as if you’re going to touch your toes – it doesn’t matter how far you can actually reach – and then just hang there for a minute or so (you can also do this in a seated position by leaning forwards and allowing your head to hang comfortably between your legs). The idea behind this exercise is that it sends a strong signal to your body that all is safe, and you can relax.
- Regulate your breathing
An additional way to calm your body down, promote parasympathetic nervous system activity and break the anxiety cycle (in which your body’s fear reaction to your thoughts makes you even more anxious) is to try a controlled breathing exercise.
There are many different exercises you can try, but one of the simpler and more effective examples is known as ‘box breathing’ or ‘square breathing’, so called because you breathe in, pause, and then breathe out each for the same amount of time.
To begin, sit somewhere comfortably and focus on your breath. Inhale for four seconds. Try to repeat this for at least 30 seconds and continue for as long as you feel necessary. The idea is that this will help to get your breathing rate and depth back under control, which is an effective way to calm the entire body.
- Plan a ‘worry window’
If you find that your worries keep coming back, even after you’ve calmed your mind and body, it can be very unsettling and give you the sense that you’re stuck in a loop. You might even come to form unhelpful beliefs, such as that you need to engage in worry to try to ‘solve’ a dilemma or to prevent a bad thing from happening – these are known as ‘meta-cognitions’ because they’re your beliefs about your thoughts.
However, unless you’re forming genuine solutions or constructive plans in your mind, then churning the same worries around and around is futile, like a car’s wheel spinning in the mud. Trying to banish these worries from your mind is unlikely to work.
A better approach is to plan a ‘worry window’ – a set period of time, about half an hour or so (ideally not too close to bed-time) when you’ll allow your mind to give vent to its worries. The rest of the time, whenever your worrisome thoughts surface, you can remind yourself that you’ll be turning your attention to them later. This can be an effective way to break out of a perpetual worry loop and allow you to get on with your life.
- Create a physical kit
Think about things that help calm you down to make you feel relaxed. This will help calm your anxiety when you feel a heightened sense of arousal due to stress and anxiety.
Soothing or relaxing music
Having a pre-made playlist of soothing, relaxing music or natural sounds on your phone makes it quick and easy to listen to.
Dreem Distillery Night Drops have been expertly formulated with broad-spectrum CBD and additional plant terpenes, focused on reducing stress an anxiety. Try taking 2-3 drops to help relieve symptoms of anxiety.
Tea can help relax and calm you down so having a couple with you can be very helpful. There are a variety of teas for stress and anxiety such as:
- Chamomile: calm and stress-soothing
- Lavender: mood-stabilising effects
- Peppermint: reduces feelings of frustration, anxiety, and fatigue
- Green tea: reduces anxiety
Inhaling the scent of essential oils provides a natural remedy to relieve stress and anxiety. There are various essential oils such as:
- Lavender: calms your body and mind
- Peppermint: cools you down and opens airways for breathing
- Jasmine: calms your nervous system without causing sleepiness
- Lemongrass: promotes relaxation and reduces symptoms of anxiety
Dehydration leads to higher cortisol (stress hormone). It is important to regularly stay hydrated. Taking a drink of water can help you cool down and make you feel calm.