6 No-BS Strategies for Diffusing Anxiety
Quick Strategies for Keeping Your Cool in High-Pressure Situations
Let's face it, we've all been there. You're in a high-pressure situation and anxiety starts to creep in. Maybe you start to feel your heart race or your palms get sweaty. And then what do you do?
You try to ignore it, or you distract yourself with your phone, or maybe you even turn to drugs or booze to try and calm your nerves.
But you and I both know those strategies never really work. So here's the no-BS truth:
If you want to diffuse anxiety in the heat of the moment, you need to be equipped with some real coping mechanisms.
Here's 6 you can try that might be your secret sauce to finding your center when you need it most.
THE ROOT OF ANXIETY
Before we get into the tactics for kicking anxiety to the curb, let's take a look at what's really causing it.
It's no secret that life can throw some crazy curveballs your way. Maybe you're in the middle of a high-pressure mission, dealing with a difficult boss, or just facing the everyday stresses of life. No matter what the situation, it's normal for all of us to face some level of anxiety in our daily lives, either on occasion or for some of us, several times each day.
But let's be real for a minute.
Anxiety isn't just a feeling. It's a full-on assault on your mind, body, and reality. It can make you freeze up, lose focus, and even spiral into a full-blown panic attack. And that's not something any warrior worth their salt wants to experience, especially when the stakes are high.
So where does this anxiety come from? It's different for everyone, but some common culprits include fear of failure, uncertainty about the future, and feeling like you're not in control.
But don't worry, soldier. We're here to help you take back control with some no-BS strategies for diffusing anxiety in the heat of the moment.
6 ZERO-BS STRATEGIES FOR GETTING BACK INTO THE ZONE
When you're in a high-pressure situation, it's natural for your body to go into fight-or-flight mode. But sometimes, that response can be overwhelming and get in the way of your ability to perform at your best. Here are some quick strategies you can use to diffuse anxiety in the moment:
6. The Battle Buddy System
Just like in the military, find a buddy you can count on to have your back. Having someone to talk to and rely on can do wonders for reducing anxiety, and a real game-changer if you can call 'em up for a pep talk when you can't find your cool. If you don't have someone solid in your life you can rely on, consider reaching out to a professional for support.
5. Mental Rehearsal
Imagine yourself successfully completing the task at hand. Visualize yourself as a confident and capable individual. This technique helps to build self-confidence, and reduces anxiety by giving you a mental blueprint to follow.
4. Progressive Muscle Tensing
Stress energy gets trapped in the muscles in the heat of the moment, but if you're in a charged environment where you can't get up and move your body to expel the energy, this trick can easily be done without making a scene. Tense and then relax different muscle groups one at a time, starting with your toes and working your way up to your head. In just one round, you'll blast out the pent-up tension plaguing your body and free up a clearer head.
3. Tactical Box Breathing
The 4x4 Box Breathing Technique is used by Navy SEALs to help steady the mind and refocus the nervous system in high-pressure situations. It involves taking slow, deep breaths in a specific pattern:
Box Breathing Exercise
• Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds
• Hold the inhale for 4 seconds
• Exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds
• Hold the exhale for 4 seconds
• Repeat until you're feeling calm
Imagine you're tracing the outline of a square in your mind as you complete the breathing circuit. Repeat until you feel like you've found your center again. This breathing style powerfully regulates the body's stress response and clear your mind so you can make better decisions in stressful situations.
2. Get Grounded
When anxiety strikes, it can feel like you're losing touch with reality. Grounding techniques can help bring you back to the present moment and calm your mind. Try focusing on the physical sensations around you, such as the feel of your feet on the ground or the temperature of the air. You can also try counting backwards from 100 or reciting the alphabet backwards to help shift your focus away from frenetic thoughts and onto something more concrete.
1. The Power Pose
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips, and your chest lifted. Hold this pose for 2-3 minutes to boost your confidence and lower your stress levels.
BUILDING RESILIENCE OVER TIME
At its core, building resilience is about training your mind and body to withstand stress and adversity. While we've already covered some immediate strategies for diffusing anxiety, it's important to remember that long-term resilience is just as important. Here's a few ways you can build resilience over time:
This isn't some hippie-dippie BS. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment, and it's been proven to reduce stress, improve focus, and even boost your immune system. Take a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, whether that means meditating, doing yoga, or simply focusing on your breath.
Get Your Sweat On
You don't need to go ham in the gym to get the benefits of regular exercise for your mental resilience. While nothing makes you feel like more of an unstoppable force than being ripped and strong, be sure to take care of your body so it can carry you through, no matter what life throws at ya. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress, boost your mood, and increase your overall resilience.
You might think that staying up all night and powering through is the mark of a true badass, but the truth is that good sleep is essential for your physical and mental health. Make sure you're getting enough sleep each night, and establish a sleep routine that works for you.
Find Your Tribe
No one can do it all alone. We all need a support system of people who care about us and have our backs. Make sure you're building strong relationships with friends, family, and other like-minded badasses who can provide the support and encouragement you need to keep going.
RECRUIT THE PROS WHEN NEEDED
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we need a little extra help to get through tough times. There's no shame in that. Here are some no-BS tips for finding professional help when you need it:
Recognizing When to Seek Help
There's no shame in admitting that you're struggling, and recognizing when you need help is the first step toward getting it. If you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, or if you're just feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, it's time to reach out for help.
Find Your Flavor of Therapy
There's a plethora of professionals who can help you get a handle on your mental health, including therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists. Do your homework and find a provider who specializes in the type of help you think will resonate with you.
Overcoming the Stigma of Seeking Help
Unfortunately, there's still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, and getting help can be seen as a sign of weakness. But the truth is, asking for help is one of the bravest things you can do. Remember that reaching out when you need a lifeline is a sign of strength, not weakness, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
All in all, diffusing anxiety is no easy feat, especially for those of us who have to deal with high-pressure situations on a regular basis. But by recognizing and ditching ineffective coping strategies, adopting no-BS techniques like the ones we covered today, we can improve our mental endurance and rise to any challenge that comes our way.
It's also important to recognize when we need professional help and to overcome the stigma that sometimes comes with seeking it out. There's no shame in reaching out to a therapist or counselor when we need it, and doing so can make all the difference in our ability to function at our best.
So let's commit to taking care of our mental health as fiercely as we take care of our physical health. We owe it to ourselves, our loved ones, and our fellow tough guys to be at our best, both on and off the battlefield.
Fefe | MME Lifestyle Contributor
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