Tips for When You Can't Sit Still
Two common symptoms of anxiety include feeling restless and being unable to concentrate. Fortunately, you can arm yourself with some practical tips and tricks to combat these symptoms on both a routine and as-needed basis.
Keep in mind that developing a treatment plan for your anxiety with the help of a professional will yield better long-term results. Confidant can connect you with mental health providers and get you started.
Put That Energy to Use
Take advantage of your restlessness by moving with a purpose. Research suggests that exercise improves executive function -- including the ability to sit still and concentrate -- due to the increase of oxygen supplied to the brain.
Take a walk, go for a jog, or follow a workout routine online. Try new activities to find an exercise that you enjoy, like bike riding, indoor rock climbing, or kayaking.
A few minutes of intense or frenetic activity can also provide relief during moments when anxiety causes restlessness, and there isn't time for regular exercise. For example, if you cannot sit still at your desk, go to the stairwell and jog up and down the steps several times. Your body may naturally relax to rest and restore itself after the intense effort. Try jumping jacks or dance. Get creative about fitting even just a few minutes of quick movement into your day when restlessness strikes.
Practice Mindfulness Every Single Day
Mindfulness can help calm both your body and brain, allowing you to sit still and concentrate for longer. For the most significant benefit, practice mindfulness for a few minutes every day. Schedule a reminder or alarm on your phone, so you don't forget this important "mental health hygiene" task. Mindfulness becomes more effective with regular practice. Don't skip it.
Practice Focusing on One Thing at a Time
Mindfulness draws your attention inward, but it helps to focus on external stimuli, as well. Find something that soothes you -- typically some sort of art like a painting, sculpture or photograph -- and give it all of your attention for several minutes. Just sit still and stare at it with your gaze locked. Remember to breathe.
Follow the 4-7-8 Breathing Method
Your heart rate and respiratory rate affect one another, and symptoms of anxiety usually coincide with a higher heart rate. You can lower your heart rate by focusing on and controlling your breathing for a minute or two. In particular, you need to exhale for a more extended period than you inhale to relax your body and slow your heart.
To accomplish this, try the 4-7-8 breathing method: inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. Then repeat several times or until you notice that you feel better. Inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth can also help.
Do a Full-Body Scan
Maybe you can't sit still because the tension has built up in a particular part of your body. Which area feels tense? Try to incrementally relax your body by focusing your attention on one area at a time, starting with your toes.
Consciously relax the muscles around your toes, then the muscles around your ankles and lower legs, and so on. If you encounter a muscle group that doesn't want to relax, tense them up before letting them relax again.
As helpful as these tips may be, remember that you don't have to try to treat your anxiety on your own. Let Confidant connect you with mental health professionals who work with you to create an effective, long-term treatment plan.