5 Daily Mantras To Get Through The Tougher Anxious Moments

AEDP Certified Psychotherapist By Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW
AEDP Certified Psychotherapist
Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, is a certified psychoanalyst, AEDP certified psychotherapist and supervisor, and licensed clinical social worker. She is author of the award-winning self-help book 'It’s Not Always Depression.'
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During these troublesome and uncertain times, it's important to control our anxious thoughts. One way to do this is by being kind to ourselves (yes, it matters). Speaking loving and supportive words to ourselves is calming, much like a parent reassures a child.

Experiment with soothing self-talk with the following phrases. See if the words relax you, calm your beating heart, allow you to breathe a little deeper, or lower the tension in your muscles. Even tiny shifts are important and can bring a sense of mastery that you have some control over your nervous system—which you do!

1. This is temporary.

It's true! This quarantine and virus won't last forever—it won't even last years. Humans can sustain stress for long periods of time. We are resilient. Remember, "This stress is temporary!" Say it again and again.

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2. Everything is going to be OK.

The future is unknown, not only now but always. But there is no sense in triggering our nervous system into states of panic. We can tell ourselves everything is going to be OK, and it most likely will be.

If you're too much of a realist or a pessimist, you can modify this mantra to "Everything is probably going to be OK." If that's still hard for you to believe, try "If everything is not OK, I will survive." And that is true! Try out different versions and see what calms the anxiety in your body.

3. I am not alone.

People are coming together during this time. You might be physically alone in your space, but we are connected through our common humanity, and we are connected to nature.

Anytime you need, you can reach out to others through the phone or internet. If friends and family aren't available, connect with a support group. Therapists, AA and NA groups, yoga and exercise classes, book clubs, and more are offering services online now. Between those resources, you are not alone.

These are lifesavers and remedies for loneliness. If you're shy or introverted, validate how scary or difficult it is to reach out. Then do it anyway. If you don't like it, that's fine, but give it a try if you're feeling anxious, depressed, or lonely. Search "online support groups for (insert your need here)," and see what you discover. 

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4. One day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time.

When emotions run high, we get overwhelmed. This is the time to slow way down. Remind yourself the only goal is to get through the next minute, hour, or day. Shift your focus to figuring out a pleasant and calming activity that you can do right now.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling really anxious after having several calm days. I knew I was anxious because my heart was beating fast. I reminded myself that my goal was to "slow down and take it a minute at a time." I read my list of state-changers, or concrete things that bring calm to anxious moments.

Here's what I did: 

  • Dedicated 5 minutes to grounding and breathing.
  • Vacuumed the house.
  • Made a cup of tea.
  • Exercised.
  • Took a very hot bath.
  • Wrote this article.

It took a few hours, but eventually I started to feel a bit better. If none of those methods worked, I would've told myself, "Hang in there! Tomorrow is a new day, and you will probably feel better in the morning." 

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5. Just because I feel anxious at this moment doesn't mean in reality things are worse than the moment before.

Anxiety has a funny way of generating worried and catastrophic thoughts. When you are very anxious, it's important to pause and notice your thoughts. If you're all doom and gloom, notice that and then remind yourself, "Just because I feel anxious right now doesn't mean, in reality, things are worse for me than they were yesterday."

Working with our emotions is a lifelong practice. The idea is to get into an experimental state of mind and have a wide variety of tools at your disposal. Try different calming phrases that have positive meaning for you; try different state-changers to help your mind and body relax. It's about progress and practice, not perfection. The simple act of trying helps to keep you focused on something productive rather than letting your mind wander.

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