The Montfort Group

Soothing Techniques For High Anxiety

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt anxious before? I’m curious. What’d it feel like? And where did you feel it in your body? Before I share some of my soothing techniques for these moments of high anxiety, I want to share with you a personal story.

High Anxiety

When I was attaining my Master’s degree (to become a therapist, mind you), I ended up in the ER due to being so ill that I couldn’t keep anything down. I was admitted, and the nurses immediately inserted an IV due to severe dehydration. After three bags of fluids, the nurse on duty took my vitals. My heart rate read 147. Ten minutes later, the doctor came back into my room and asked if I was in any pain, to which I replied “no.” He felt concerned with my elevated heart rate. He requested that I get an MRI to ensure that I didn’t have appendicitis. I agreed to it, and moments later, iodine was injected into my IV to help highlight any abnormalities on an MRI scan. Fast forward to two hours later when my scan came back normal. My heart rate still read 147, and I felt completely “normal.”

The doctor turned to me and asked, “are you anxious?” My response: “I didn’t think so.”

I’m telling you this story because the girl getting her Master’s degree in counseling was neglecting herself so severely. She didn’t even recognize when she was feeling anxious. My body was telling me.

Soothing Techniques

This moment brought me the awareness to start turning towards my body when feeling anxious. Sometimes my chest feels tight, my teeth are clenched, my tongue is touching the roof of my mouth, or I’m picking at my nails.

During moments where I notice and recognize intense feelings of anxiety, I do what’s called “naming it to tame it.” Where you say what you’re feeling out loud.

“I feel scared.” “I feel anxious about the fight I just had with my significant other.” “I feel nervous about the upcoming presentation that I have to give to a class of 30 people.”

When we are emotionally heightened, and the central nervous system is activated, the amygdala becomes heated. When this happens, the amygdala is incapable of receiving information. Naming what you’re feeling out loud will allow the information to be sent to the amygdala, which will enable your central nervous system to relax. During this time, you will notice a physical shift in your body, which will reprieve from this anxiety.

I went from being unaware of feeling anxious to recognizing how and when I feel anxious. And now, be able to calm my heart rate down.

Courtney Strull, MS, LPC

Courtney Strull, MS, LPC

I attended The University of Texas in Austin where I majored in Psychology and minored in Sociology. During my undergraduate coursework, I did research under Dr. Rebecca Bigler, where I studied gender and racial attitudes among children. Upon competition of my undergraduate degree, I moved to Dallas to attend Southern Methodist University’s Master of Science in Counseling program and completed all the training to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.

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