4 Ways to Reduce Anxiety on Your Coffee Break
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States, affecting roughly 40 million people over the age of 18. In fall of 2020, college students reported the highest levels of anxiety of any prior semester according to the University of Michigan Healthy Minds survey. Unfortunately, only about one third of people living with anxiety receive treatment.
If you are experiencing anxiety, there are proven strategies you can practice that don’t cost a penny and take little time. In fact, you could try any of the following strategies on your lunch or coffee break. Here are some quick, coffee break-friendly skills you can practice to better manage anxiety:
Practice Deep Breathing
When we experience anxiety, our body and mind are responding to a perceived lack of safety. When the alarm center of the brain perceives a threat, our nervous system becomes activated in an effort to keep us safe. Deep breathing is helpful for anxiety because it signals your nervous system to calm down. Studies show taking slow, deep, breaths soothes our nervous system and increases brain activity. Learning to work with your breath to reduce anxiety may take time and practice. This makes it a great skill to build through some daily practice, such as during your coffee break. For extra nervous system calming effects, try repeating the words “I am safe” either out loud or in your mind.
Try Listening Meditation
One way to get your mind to settle down is to tap into your senses using mindfulness. An easy way to practice mindfulness (which is essentially bringing your attention to the present moment) is to practice listening meditation. This is exactly what is sounds like. Sit quietly, eyes closed, and begin to listen to the ambient sounds in the room. What do you hear? Buzzing lights? A fan? Someone cough? Birds outside? A lawnmower? Just be aware of all the sounds and try and expand that awareness to hear as much as possible. This form of meditation is effective because you cannot possibly listen, truly listen, and think at the same time.
Take a Walk
Nervous energy needs to go somewhere – it has to be burned. Taking a 15- minute walk around the block can be a great way to get rid of this energy while breathing deeply. As a bonus, your body releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins when you exercise.
Don’t Drink Coffee
Wait, what?! Yes, it’s your coffee break. But did you know that caffeine can make your anxiety worse? Caffeine and sugar can exacerbate anxiety by making us feel jittery and nervous. Try replacing your extra caffeine fix with decaf, water or an herbal tea.
I hope you will give these anxiety-busting strategies a try. If your anxiety is having a negative effect on your work, relationships, or studies, or if you’re just not feeling as well as you’d like to, you might want to consider working with a licensed therapist. Our team of therapists at Desert Lotus counseling is skilled in the treatment of anxiety. Give us a call or send us a message through our CONTACT page today!