It’s the start of a new year!
While the new year brings about hope and exciting new experiences for some, others may be overly pressured by new school or work demands, and challenging targets to meet. It isn’t unusual to find ourselves anxious about the seemingly daunting new year.
Anxiety happens when you encounter a level of stress which is too much for you to handle. Having too much stress in your environment or stretching yourself beyond your capability could lead to unhealthy levels of anxiety which may result in health problems or an irrational fear which stops you from performing your daily activities. The good news is that you can better manage your anxiety levels and find some relief with coping strategies and relaxation techniques.
When your mind starts to race and anxiety threatens to consume you, these simple relaxation techniques may help you be more mindful of the present moment, relax and regain control.
BREATHING AND BODY SCAN EXERCISE
The purpose of this exercise is to help you find relieve from especially stressful and difficult situations.
- Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Take several breaths at your own pace.
- Examine the sensations going through your body. At the same time, continue with the deep breathing. Feel the expansion and contraction of your body with each breath.
- Notice if there are any images that come to your mind. Observe them without passing any judgments.
- Start with your head. Notice if there is any tension or feeling in your forehead, eyes, ears, nose, mouth and jaw.
- Proceed to scan for any sensations in your neck, shoulders, forearms and hands. Notice if there is any pain or stiffness in your shoulders. Are your shoulders relaxed and flexible or are they stiff and tense? Are your fingers clenched or relaxed?
- Continue to scan the rest of your body; your spine, abdomen, hips, legs and feet. Observe the feeling in your joints and between your toes.
- Whenever your mind wonders off during the exercise, remember to bring your attention back by focusing on your breathing.
HOT TEA EXERCISE
The purpose of this exercise is to help you focus better. It trains your mind to focus on one thing at a time in the present moment instead of getting engaged in unhealthy thinking patterns as your thoughts run wild. Better control over your thoughts helps keep you calmer and makes you less vulnerable to emotional distress.
- Brew yourself a cup of hot, simmering tea.
- Find yourself a comfortable spot and seat. Make sure there is minimal distractions.
- Place the cup of tea close to your chest and feel the warmth of the steam. At the same time, inhale the aroma of the tea deeply and exhale slowly. Enjoy the scent and take slow sips.
- Feel the warmth of the tea move down your throat and into your stomach.
- If you find your thoughts wondering, bring your focus back to your deep breathing and the warmth of the tea.
- Repeat these steps until your mind is calmer and more focused.
The next time you find your stress levels rising and anxiety creeping in, try out these exercises to calm yourself down and clear your mind. If your anxiety is severe and debilitating, do seek professional help or call the TOUCHline at 1800 377 2252 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm) to speak with a trained counsellor.
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This article is by TOUCH Youth Intervention (TYI). TYI runs Do You M.I.N.D.?, a mental wellness programme which promotes mental wellness in youths across schools in Singapore and activates the potential in them to be a pillar of support for their peers with mental health issues. Through educational talks, adventure-based activities and experiential station games, youths are educated on common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive behaviour, self-harm, and eating disorders.
TYI also provides mental health counselling and therapy for youths to equip them with emotional regulation skills, increase their resilience towards distressing situations, and strengthen their socio-emotional functioning as individuals. Youths or parents seeking help related to mental health issues may call the TOUCHline at 1800 377 2252 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm) or email [email protected] to speak with a counsellor. You may also follow @doyoumind on Instagram for mental health updates.