Anxiety got you by the throat? Here's what to do about it

Manage your stress like a boss with these quick and easy “chill tips”

If you’re alive and currently breathing at this very moment, you’re probably familiar with the fact that the universe is not your mummy and sometimes in life ‘bad’ shit happens that is out of our control. One of my favourite bossbitch writer’s, Ash Ambridge, says:

“You know what’s crazy? There’s not actually a team of people assigned to your life, sitting around monitoring your blood work, and your bank accounts and the health of your relationships jotting down notes, circling areas of concern”.

When this supposed ‘bad shit’ happens, we can get angry about it, sad, or anxious. Sometimes all of the above. After working one-on-one with a Life Coach for four months and then studying Life Coaching myself the last two years, I’ve learnt a thing or two about the mind-taming benefits of being mindful and practicing meditation especially when it comes to anxiety.

2014 was a pretty shitty year for me. Shitty situation 1: My only brother was sent off to prison and shitty situation 2: Not long after, my long-term partner announced that he was jetting off to Europe for a 5-week ‘boys trip’ with his mates. When I wasn’t wasting my brain space feeling anxious about situation 1, I spent the rest of my time fretting over situation 2. Looking back, sleep was one of the only times I felt absolutely calm during that period.

Shit was heavy.

But, such is life really. I know all of you, out there, reading in internet-land would know all too well about this struggle. The thing is, life will never be without problems. As one of my new author crushes, Mark Manson says in his book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.”

“Problems are a constant in life. We are never without them; they are merely exchanged or upgraded.”

Next time something happens to jeopardise your ability to stay calm try one of these quick and easy “chill tips” which have helped me manage my stress like a boss ever since.

Chill tip 1 – The Diving Reflex Technique

What is it?

When in a state of panic and anxiety, submerse your face in cold water for 30 seconds. If you aren’t in a position where you can easily do this, you could also use a bag of frozen peas (rest it on your face) a cold can of soft drink pressed into the side of your nose or use a cold face washer (ice cold if you can).

How it helps

The cold water forces you into the ‘present moment’ and is usually enough to break a cycle of negative or anxious thinking. The shock of the cold also stimulates your vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the most important part of your parasympathetic nervous system (the part of your nervous system responsible for making you feel calm and relaxed) - as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system which is what causes you to feel anxious and stressed when something ‘bad’ triggers you.

Even more effective is if you team this ‘diving reflex technique’ with either of the following breathing techniques below:

Chill tip 2 – The 4-7-8 breathing technique

What is it?

A way of manipulating your breathing so that your inhale is longer than your exhale thus switching you into the parasympathetic (the one that’s responsible for you feeling calm) state.

Here’s a quick and easy to follow ‘how-to’ video. Try it for three rounds, reassess and then continue for longer if you’re still feeling stressed or anxious.

How it helps

A study shown here (and another here) found that people who practiced this type of slow breathing for 3 months found an improvement in their autonomic function. In layman’s terms that is, less likely to be triggered and prone to bouts of anxiety.

Chill tip 3 - Alternate nostril breathing

What is it?

A way of manipulating your breath by breathing in and then out, one nostril at a time. Watch this quick ‘how to’ video here

How it helps

According to an article published by womens health magazine, Prevention, this particular type of breathing is shown to reduce anxiety by 44%. On top of this it helps calm an agitated mind, improves sleep and improves brain function by bringing equal amounts of oxygen to both sides of your brain.

Disclaimer: You might have noticed that my name is without that impressive “Dr” prefix at the beginning. That obvs means that I’m not a Doctor and the advice above, while learned from Mental Health Professionals and my own research, is that of my own experience and opinion.

For more on all of this nerdy, fun stuff, see my other article: “I’m sh*t at meditating, what else can I do?” on my blog over here.

X Bec

(Originally posted on

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