We’re now well into Q4 and the end of the year is fast approaching… fuuuuck. Are the end of the year deadlines and sales goals spiking your anxiety? It might feel like your engine is revved up higher, pushing you forward through each day, while also simultaneously wanting to crash onto the couch with a scotch (or five) and hours of video games or Netflix binging.
You can’t really afford to slow down, let alone stop, and yet your body is telling you otherwise. There’s a tightness in your chest that feels like you’re slowly suffocating, struggling to just get a deep breath one minute. And then your heart is racing and feels like it’s going to pound out of your chest the next. Maybe the tension and pain in your back feels like it’ll never unwind. Seriously, what the fuck body? Chill the fuck out!
It’s times like these you might find yourself reaching for that extra drink, extra puff, extra coffee, or extra pill just to get you through. I get it. Sometimes it feels like the only thing you can do to get through. But it doesn’t have to be!
Here are 3 of my favorite tips to help manage the extra spike in anxiety or burn out that may help you too.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). This technique uses the counterbalancing effect of tensing and releasing various muscle groups in order to stimulate deep relaxation and reset. You can follow a script to help the first couple of times, but it’s also simple enough to practice on your own. Here’s what you do…
For each breath in you’ll contract a different muscle group and hold it as tight as you can for about 4-5 seconds (if you have pain or injury anywhere skip that part; seriously, don’t “muscle through” and make it worse)
For each breath out you’ll release and focus on the sensations of relaxing for another 4-5 seconds
If you’re pressed for time, follow a shortened sequence moving from upper thighs- to stomach- to biceps- to fists- to shoulders. Rinse and repeat so that you contract and relax each muscle 3-4 times before moving on to the next. You can also do the whole sequence 3-4 times in a row for deeper relaxation.
If you’ve got a little more time (say 10-15 minutes) follow along with a script like this one that walks you through the entire body- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihO02wUzgkc
Practice this anywhere from once a day to a few times a day over the next few weeks and see how it can help you feel more relaxed and calmer overall, as well as in the moment.
2. Box Breathing. This one is commonly used by Navy Seals and first responders to slow down and regulate breathing by activating your parasympathetic nervous system (the one that brings on relaxation). You know those careers are the epitome of strength, endurance, and managing stress under pressure. Here’s how it works. Breathing in and out of your nose only...
Inhale for a count of 4 (trying to breathe from deep in your belly as opposed to your chest)
Hold for a count of 4 without breathing out
Breathe out for a count of 4 in a slow, controlled manner
Hold for a count of 4 with all of the air out of your lungs & diaphragm
Repeat 3-5 times
Try this one when you wake up in the morning, in bed at night, sitting in meetings, throughout the day or in any stressful situation.
3. Visualization. Just because you may not be able to take a long winter vacay yet doesn’t mean you can’t take a quick mental vacation to restore your focus and boost those feel good and relaxing neurotransmitters like GABA and Serotonin. Here’s one way how...
Favorite place visualization
Get into a comfortable position sitting or lying down if possible
Slow down your breathing and take a few slow, long deep breaths
Now picture one of your favorite places (my go-to is a beach I visited once in the DR)
Here’s how to make it really good and juicy, incorporate each of your 5 senses to really fill out the experience
Sight: create as detailed an image as you can. Using my beach example I picture the exact curves of the beach that stretched for miles in one direction, the details of the palm trees that lined the shore and bent towards the water, the light blue-green shade of the water that stretches forever towards the horizon, the color of the sky as the sun set, turning from blue to pink to purple etc.
Sound: I imagine the sound of the waves softly crashing on the shore in rhythmic flow, the birds singing in the trees, the distant sound of voices from others down the beach
Touch: I imagine the feel of the soft, warm sand below my feet as I dig them in, the temperature of the water as I walk along the shore and sinking sand beneath me, the slight warm breeze brushing over my shoulders and face
Smell: the salty ocean air, and smell of coconut sunscreen
Taste: the sweet taste of pineapple or whatever fruity cocktail I may have been slowly sipping and enjoying
Getting as many details and senses engaged as you can helps really transport you to another world. Stay there for as long as you want and take a break there as often as possible.
So there you have it, god I feel more relaxed having just written this! Experiment with each one, try all three, mix and match a couple at a time, and remember the key to reducing anxiety, stress and burnout is not just a one-time affair. It’s practicing techniques like these and others on a consistent, regular basis.
If these helped but you still feel like you could use a little more support, reach out and set up a free consultation call. I’ve got plenty of other tricks up my sleeve to help you feel better. And the truth is, taking just one hour a week to prioritize and improve your health is going to carry you a lot further than just through the final quarter of the year.