I Attended an Anxiety Workshop

I recently joined an anxiety workshop on campus because my cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) therapist suggested that I should see what workshops are available to students. Then she told me that she is happy with the progress I’ve made so far, and that I don’t need to book another appointment until the end of the year. Um, okay.

I have some mixed feelings here: Will I be mentally prepared to handle school in January? What if I have another major depressive episode like last time? Will the progress I made this year be enough to overcome failure? 

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“Confront the Discomfort” is the workshop I accidentally stumbled upon two weeks ago. When I signed up that day, I was innocently checking emails instead of studying, and thus, procrastinating like it was nobody’s business. This workshop takes place every Tuesday on campus and runs for a total of 3 weeks. I was unable to attend the second workshop since my toddler was with me that day, and I highly doubt that they would have wanted her running around and screaming the place down.

Fight or Flight

I admit that I was hesitant to join this anxiety workshop, since I often dismiss the possibility that anyone can help me with my problems. However, earlier this year I surrendered to defeat and accepted the fact that I do not have the answers to my problems. Shocking, right? I have some of the answers, but not all of them. Also, I am usually reluctant to join social gatherings since my natural instinct is to isolate myself from people. Social anxiety is real man, but I know that social anxiety is not an uncommon disorder. To make matters worse, [social] anxiety sufferers are the ones who are likely to refuse help, and thus, unlikely to attend these workshops in the first place. And yet, anxiety sufferers are the ones who are most likely to benefit by attending these workshops.

So far, I have only attended Session 1, and I plan to attend the Session 3 next week. I was unable to attend the Session 2 so I am missing that worksheet. Using the summary sheet from Session 1, I want to show you how to do the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique and the 3-7-8 Breathing Exercise. Both of these techniques are effective at calming your nerves so that you can focus to the present moment. I’ve been using the 3-7-8 Breathing Exercise for months now and can confirm that it works quickly and effectively.

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique 

Preparation:

  • Place both of your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lean back into your chair, and make a mental note of the feeling of the chair under you and against your back.
  • Cross your arms over your chest.
  • Gently tap your shoulders, alternating one side at a time OR place your hands on your thighs and tap one leg at a time.

Directions:

  • Find 5 things that you SEE in the room.
  • Notice 4 things that you can FEEL in the room (feet on the floor, itchy sweater you’re wearing etc.)
  • HEAR 3 things in the room right now (traffic, clock ticking etc.)
  • What are 2 things that you can SMELL OR 2 smells that you like?
  • Get 1 thing that you can taste (mint, gum etc.) OR 1 taste that you like OR think of 1 thing that you like about yourself.

3-7-8 Breathing Exercise 

  • Breathe in quietly through your nose for 3 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds.
  • With pursed lips, exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds.
  • Repeat the cycle as needed until you feel a sense of calmness.
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It is all about finding the clam in the chaos.

I am curious to know if you have attended workshops related to mental health, especially workshops focused on dealing with anxiety. When you were a college or high school student, were similar workshops available to you? If not, is this something that you would be interested in? Please join the conversation and leave a comment below ↓

Thanks for stopping by!

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30 thoughts on “I Attended an Anxiety Workshop

  1. Michelle says:

    These are great I have tried before. They are helpful when I can focus. I haven’t heard of workshops like these before but that could be because I don’t like going out either. It sounds like a helpful class

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Hi Michelle! I was told that these techniques are especially helpful when we are unable to focus because they help ground us. The 3-7-8 Breathing Exercise slows down the heart rate, thus bringing a natural sense of calm. 😊 I mostly find out about events like these from the university’s monthly emails.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. PoojaG says:

    I’ve never attended any anxiety workshop at school but I use the 3-7-8 breathing exercise for anxiety and it works pretty well for me too. I’m curious to see what you learn in Session 3 I hope you share it with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      It’s great that you use the 3-7-8 breathing technique! I found it to be the most effective technique, and I originally heard about it form The Minimalists podcast. BTW, I want to sincerely thank you for recommending Robin Sharma’s podcast. His podcast is one of my personal favorites now! 🙌

      Session 3 is currently a work in progress. I am hoping to publish it this week. Thank you for your support, Pooja! 😊💕

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ceponatia says:

    I haven’t attended specific workshops but rehab had several classes on managing anxiety. Similar to the 3-7-8 breathing exercise, I learned “box breathing” which is breathing in for 4 seconds, holding it for 4, exhaling for for, and holding the exhale for 4. It got me through my first month of sobriety. Every time a craving came up, I did that, and it would dissipate within 30 seconds. Now I don’t need it as much but if I’m ever super stressed I know what to go to.

    Like

  4. Ellen says:

    Thanks for sharing those techniques with us, Hilary. 😊
    As someone who suffers from social anxiety as well, I can completely relate to how you feel.
    All the best for the course! ☺️💛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Hi Ellen! Thank you for reading Part 1 and joining me in this healing journey. Part 2 is now available on the blog and it contains additional information if you are interested. I didn’t know that you suffer from social anxiety, and it’s actually a relief knowing that you understand how I feel. We aren’t alone in this journey. 😊🤗

      Like

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Yes, I definitely think that CBT can be helpful for anyone who is dealing with mental health challenges, such as anxiety or depression. My therapist is more about doing rather than over-thinking and getting trapped dead-end thought patterns. You might find CBT therapy helpful if you’re the type who likes to overthink things.

      Like

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I do research in my spare time and have found ways to cope on my own. I use CBT to help supplement my learning. Unfortunately, I was unable to book another CBT session since it’s fully booked until mid January, which conflicts with my school schedule. I guess that CBT is in high demand on campus, so I might have to look elsewhere if depression becomes unbearable again.

      Like

  5. popsiclesociety says:

    Accepting the fact that you don’t have the answers to your problems is a huge step dear Hilary!
    I never had problems of anxiety but these exercises just reading them seems like calming you down, creating a peaceful atmosphere around you!
    When I was in school, nobody used to discuss about these matters, I’m glad that at least now they’ve started to treat them in the right way and I hope people will start giving more importance to it as a lot of people and students may benefit!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. amymayj says:

    I’ve never actually attended one – I think I still have all those connotations of seminars at university where I would easily lose my patience 😂 although having had them suggested to me on multiple occasions its one thing I’d be open to trying, especially if they teach you different techniques to what you already know! I personally love the 54321 grounding technique, out of all the ones I’ve tried it’s definitely been the most effective! Xx

    Like

  7. Human Performance Psychology says:

    Hard times always create #opportunities for you to #experience more true love in your life. Tough times never last, but tough people do.
    I would like to mention a famous quote by Les Brown here, which is as follows: “When the challenges of life come your way, you have to find ways to increase your sense of self-appreciation, because if you don’t, you get bombarded with negative stuff every day that beat you down and you will find yourself unconsciously engage in self-destructive behaviour. If you don’t program yourself life will program you.”
    So remember one thing, struggle and hard times are the most inspiring things in the world. 👍💪🙂✊

    Like

  8. HintsforHappyLiving says:

    Very interesting programme Hillary! 😊
    Thanks a lot for sharing the two techniques. 🌸 I too have anxiety issues, so I do practice breathing exercise sometimes. Learned about grounding technique from your post. I would definitely try this technique next time.😊

    Liked by 1 person

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