Finals week along with applying for internships and graduate schools all while the holidays draw closer merely means only one thing; our anxiety is currently at an all-time high!
Yes, this means panic attack after panic attack, however, this year we’re attempting to find ways to cope with our anxiety and to de-stress for the holidays.
For some, this may mean simply immersing yourself in a warm bath filled with Lush products, but for others (like myself) a lot more energy and thought is required to keep our worries from taking over.
So, we decided to talk with school-based counselor from the Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Kristine Bolognini, with the hopes of not only staying calm but helping anyone else who may be struggling with similar anxiety as well! Luckily, Bolognini has expert advice on how to do just that.
1. Be Mindful
The first step in relieving stress is acknowledging each moment you feel anxiety and understanding where these feelings derive from. You must be mindful of how your brain reacts to certain situations.
“It’s very difficult to be mindful and recognize what you might stress about or overthink,” Bolognini said. “However, it’s the first step in figuring out how to distract yourself when the situation arises.”
For many students, school-related triggers could vary from an overwhelming amount of homework, combined with anxiety about a major exam or even the fear of speaking in front of the class. Whatever your trigger may be, it is not until you become aware of which situations provoke your anxiety that you will be able to cope with your feelings of panic in the future.
2. Find a Support Group
The second step in overcoming stress is finding a support group. Whether such a group consists of family members, counselors, or friends, people suffering with anxiety must have a reassuring source to turn to during difficult times.
“Many times young people feel as though they are the only one experiencing anxiety and stress because they are not connected to people going through the same thing,“ Bolognini said. “It is crucial for teens to know that what they are going through is completely normal.”
In fact, it is not only normal but also natural for our bodies to feel stress because they produce “fight or flight responses” that increase the heart rate and make breathing more difficult. According to the American Psychological Association, 27 percent of teens experience “extreme stress’” during the school year.
Some people are simply more susceptible to such responses than others.
3. Stay Grounded
If you find yourself in a situation in which your mind begins to race, your heart begins to palpitate and other symptoms of a panic attack begin to consume your body, remember to ground yourself.
Bolognini suggests finding a technique that makes you feel safe in order to slow your mind and body down. For some people, touching something tactile or physically taking off their shoes to feel the ground does the trick.
“Once you become grounded, you can practice self-talk strategies to help get yourself through the situation,” Bolognini said. “Saying, ‘It’s not that bad, I will get through this, and it will get better’ prove most beneficial.”
4. Smell the Roses and Blow Out the Candles
In other words, practice deep breathing techniques. According to Bolognini, smelling the roses by taking deep breaths in and blowing out the candles by slowly releasing the oxygen back into the air can help reduce tension and relieve stress for any individual.
Although the success of stress relieving techniques varies per person, engaging in deep breathing strategies is effective for almost everyone because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heart rate and relaxes muscles.
6. GET MOVING
Whether it is a five minute walk with your best friend or going outside to look at the trees and leaves, any physical activity can relieve stress, clear the mind and reduce symptoms of panic attacks, according to Bolognini.
One tried-and-true suggestion is the practice of yoga to calm one’s nerves because of its relaxing nature. Poses like headstands, back bends or any pose that engages the spinal cord are most calming because you are forced to think only about landing that pose.
Yoga is really the practice of being present. It’s about focusing inward and finding strength from within. With channeling the strength from within, your battle against anxiety too can be won!