COVID-19 UPDATE: my Midtown Manhattan office is currently closed. I am available for online therapy sessions (for NY residents only) via a secure video platform.

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” ~Jodi Picoult

You may find that anxiety keeps you tethered and stuck, or panicky and ungrounded. Breathing is one of the most important, and sometimes one of the hardest things to do when you’re feeling anxious. Here are 3 simple ways you can use your breath to help relieve anxiety and feel more grounded and calm.

  1. Name it.

Specifically naming what you want more or less of can be both powerful and calming. As you inhale through your nose, think of what you would like to bring into your body and mind. As you exhale through your mouth, think of what you would like to release or let go of. Repeat this gentle cycle at least 3 times, and speak it out loud (or to yourself) – “I inhale ____, I exhale _____” Be honest with yourself about what you need more of, and what you’d like less of. Set the intention for change and see how that may shift things.

Having trouble finding your own words? Some good things to inhale: peace, calm, ease, joy, happiness, lightness. Some good things to exhale: tension, stress, pressure, anxiety, hate, tightness, anxiety.

  1. Color it.

Take the intentions a step further, and choose a color. Think of a color that represents what you’d like to receive or take in – perhaps a color that makes you smile, or reminds you of a happy memory. And then think of a color that represents your anxiety or stress or worry – it can be the yuckiest, muddiest color (mine’s usually a mix of brown and neon yellow). Either close your eyes and visualize each color, paint or draw them on a piece of paper, or find items in those colors (I often use scarves when doing this exercise with clients). Then as you inhale, imagine you’re drawing in the bright, happy color. As you exhale, imagine you’re letting go of the “yucky” color (and feeling), just letting it flow right out of your body and mind. Repeat this imagery exercise at least 3 times.

  1. Sound it.

While sitting or standing, take a deep inhale. Imagine you can fill all the way down to your toes with air, then release the air on your exhale with a sigh or a sound. Any sound is good. If you’re standing, imagine that your feet are rooting you into the ground, like a tree. With each exhale, you plant your roots and feel the ground a bit more. This can help you ground physically into the present moment and into the physical space you’re in (you can do this exercise anywhere – work, home, subway).

If you would like support around living with less anxiety, please feel free to contact me directly – one of my specialties and passions is working with women who are dealing with anxiety. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, and help you take a bold action step towards a less anxious and more joyful and grounded life.