By Advice From a Twenty Something

We all experience anxiety, some of us more than others. While for the most part, this stress is triggered psychologically, your body has a lot to do with it as well. Using your mind to take control of this stress is always a great solution, but sometimes your head can get so cloudy that you just can't think. These moments are when you should turn to your physical body to help you out. Even though the anxiety is often mental, your body reacts to it as well, excreting hormones (like cortisol) or even making it difficult to breathe. When you just can't get control of your mind in these stressful moments, turn to something you can control: your breath. Here's how:

STEP 1:
Start by sitting down somewhere, preferably on something comfortable like a couch, but anything will do as long as you don't have to use your body to keep yourself up. If you can find a private place, that's even better so you can avoid as many distractions as possible.

STEP 2:
Lower your eyelids or shut them. Place your hands gently on your belly, on top of one another, or whatever is most comfortable.

STEP 3:
Take slow, long, deep breaths using your belly, not your chest. As you breath, picture your belly as a balloon, filling with air and then slowly deflating. Initially, it may be difficult to breath with your stomach as opposed to your chest, but the more you do it, the more you body will get used it. As you take these long, slow breaths, you can even count if it helps you really elongate the breath. During the exercise, continue to focus on your body and any sensations you're feeling. This will not only help you do the exercise correctly, but it will also distract you from any anxious thoughts you were having.

This exercise helps to slow down your body, your heart rate, and in turn, your mind. It's a great way to regain control of your body and mind, and to wipe your mind clean of those cloudy thoughts and start fresh. And of course, a little chocolate always helps too.

Photo credit: Advice From a Twenty Something