Of course, everyone has anxieties and concerns.
But what do you think you should do when they start to have some negative impact on your daily life?
You may be thinking,
“Why worry about something that I can’t even see?”
“It’s just a waste of time to be anxious!”
“I have to face my anxiety head-on and fight them!”
However, it is not so easy to solve problems associated with your mental health because unseen problems create fear, which further prevents us from reasoning.
Even if you recognize the problem and know it is essential to face it, oftentimes, you can lose yourself while dealing with it. For example, you may be overwhelmed by fear and anxiety, unable to see the problem directly, and unsure of what you are doing or what to do. It is common for people to deny that they are struggling because of social pressures or prejudice against mental health.
In my previous article, “How to Ride the Waves of Your Emotions,” I wrote about facing and controlling your emotions. It may sound contradictory, but I believe it is also important not to face them sometimes as a quick fix.
Do you ever have times like this?
You spend a night anxious and sleepless; the more you try to stop thinking about it, the harder it is to sleep. When you want to deal with a problem but the problem has taken you over, how should you solve such situations?
Strategies are needed to face emotional state.
When you are trapped under anxiety and fear, you often get stuck and stop thinking. Unable to face the problem well, we gradually lose confidence in our ability to solve it and feel only more helpless...
I know it is difficult to do so, but let us divert your attention to something different to stop the vicious circle.
If you have ever seen "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," do you remember the scene where Harry and his friends were almost strangled by the devil's snare (the vine that was set when they went looking for the Philosopher's Stone)? Hermione knew that if she stayed still and relax, she would not be killed, so she calmed herself down in some way and escaped from the vine.
But how exactly can you calm down by turning your attention elsewhere?
The following are some of the things you can do in your daily life:
Take a relaxing bath
Listen to meditation music
Box breathing This is a relaxation technique to concentrate on breathing. Imagine a box in front of you. What to do: (Follow these 4 steps by following 4 sides of a square)
Breath in for 4 seconds by following the first line
Hold for 4 seconds on a second line
Breath out for 4 seconds on a third line
Hold for 4 seconds on a last line
You can adjust the time according to your ability.
Guided imagery This is a method of managing your stress. What to do:
Imagine a moment, place, or memory that makes you feel relaxed
It is more effective if you imagine a place that is meaningful to you (e.g. I always felt calm when I was exposed to nature, so I think of a mountain that I used to visit with my grandparents when I was little).
You may use an app or video as needed
Yoga to reset your nervous system
Body scan This is a technique to tune in to your body (reconnect your spirit and your body). You can notice a sensation without any judging. What to do:
Find a position that you find comfortable (sit in a chair, lie on your back, etc)
Take a deep breath (Let your belly fill with air as you breathe in, then breathe out to empty your belly)
You focus on your body from head to toe and deliver the breath around the body to release any pain or negative emotions
54321 method This is a tool to subdue anxiety and panic attacks. What to do: (5 steps repeat until you calm)
Say 5 things you can SEE ceiling, lamp, books you were reading
Say 4 things you can TOUCH cat sleeping beside you, comforter, hair
Say 3 things you can HEAR the sound of trees in the wind, the sound of cars on the road after the rain
Say 2 things you can TOUCH the smell of candles, the smell of softener
Say 1 thing you can TASTE the sandwich you ate for lunch, the coffee you just drank
Once you are in a condition to think calmly, you will surely be able to find a solution to the problem. Now, you can face yourself little by little.
But even if things get better, you might be worried and think,
"What if I face anxiety, fear, or negative emotions again?"
In that case, remember how you have overcome obstacles and regained your confidence.
Even if you go into the darkness again, you will be able to get out.
If you keep practicing with this in mind, the fear will gradually disappear.
When I am distressed, I try to see the moon on a cloudy night.
Depending on the weather, some days you can see the moon, some days you cannot. There are days when we cannot control it as we wish to, but the moon, the light, the hope, is always there.
Corliss, J. 2022. Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/six-relaxation-techniques-to-reduce-stress (accessed 1 February 2023)
日本臨床心理士会・日本心理臨床学会. 2011. 『こころほっとニュース No.２』, 参考URL: https://www.ajcp.info/heart311/?page_id=2616, (参照 2023-02-01)
Battistin, J. 2016. 54321 Method to Reduce Anxiety. Hope Therapy Centre. https://www.hope-therapy-center.com/single-post/2016/04/06/54321-method-to-reduce-anxiety (accessed 1 February 2023)
Translated by Ann Oe
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphics by Ren Ono