Today, you’re going to learn about the 333 rule for anxiety.
What Is the 333 Rule for Anxiety?
The 333 rule is a grounding technique to help you calm down when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
To practice the 333 rule, all you need to do is to look around your environment and:
- Name 3 things you see
- Identify 3 sounds you hear
- Touch 3 things (in your body, or external objects)
Even though there is no formal research into the effectiveness of the 333 rule, many people report feeling much calmer and grounded after doing this simple technique.
The 333 rule won’t get rid of your anxiety and is not a substitute for treatment. But it can be a great way to manage your anxiety in the moment.
Dealing With Anxious Symptoms
1. Adrenaline Rushes and Trembling
Usually adrenaline rush feels like a cold flush throughout our body. It can be followed by trembling as our body is trying to release and dispense of that adrenaline. (1)
So you don’t need to worry about it as it goes away on its own. the shaking and trembling is a sign that your adrenaline levels are going down.
2. Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is another symptom of high adrenaline.
We feel like we need to breathe manually or else we will stop breathing.
Fortunately, the part of the brain responsible for our breathing is out of our control and will keep working without our conscious intervention. (2)
In fact, the best way for our breathing to return to normal is to let the brain and lungs do their job without trying to intervene. This is why you don’t need to worry about this symptom.
3. High Heart Rate
Having a heart attack is one of the main things we worry about when we experience anxious symptoms.
Fortunately, no amount of adrenaline will ever cause a heart attack or stroke. This is mainly because a heart attack or stroke occur when our arteries become blocked by deposits, which has everything to do with our diet and nothing to do with our brain or adrenaline levels. (3)
4. Nausea and Other Stomach Issues
Nausea is another uncomfortable anxious symptom. It can cause us to worry we might throw up.
However, our body is usually capable of handling it without our conscious intervention and without any consequences. Vomiting is exceedingly rare when experiencing anxious symptoms.
Other stomach issues include cramps and irregular bowel movements, caused by adrenaline. These too should go away as you calm down by your doctor is the best one to advise you in the interim.
Adrenaline can also cause feelings of dizziness. We may even feel like we could faint, which can be scary, especially when we are in a social situation.
Fortunately, adrenaline cannot cause us to faint.
This is because fainting occurs when our blood vessels expand rapidly, like when we stand up too quickly. Whereas adrenaline causes our blood vessels to contract, not expand, which means adrenaline actually prevents us from fainting. (4)
6. Worrying In Bed
Some people would spend hours in bed going over the event of the day or worrying about an upcoming event or project.
One way to deal with this is to ask yourself, “Should I worry about this right now?” If there’s something you can do about it, you can write it down and take care of it the next day.
If worrying about it now won’t lead you to take action, it’s a waste of time and energy. In response, try telling yourself, “I will take care of it tomorrow.”
You can shift your focus by listening to a soothing story or meditating.
Many people would also worry about not getting enough sleep, which causes them to stay up more, creating a loop and making their anxiety even more intense.
It helps to know that, some nights of poor sleep are not enough to cause significant lasting damage. (5)
That’s why the best thing you can do is to be at peace with the idea of getting a only a few hours of sleep or even not sleeping at all. This will give your body the chance to finally relax and actually get to sleep.
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Other Coping Strategies For Anxiety
1. Exercise More
Exercising three to five times a week for a period of a half-hour or more boosts our mood and helps with overall health.
Exercise also helps reduce anxiety: it gives our body a chance to get rid of adrenaline excess.
2. Pay Attention These Aspects of your Diet
Dehydration increases the chance we will experience anxious symptoms.
There are four main factors that impact dehydration: water, electrolytes (essential minerals), alcohol and caffeine.
The body needs a certain balance of electrolytes and water to function. Without enough water or salts, our blood vessels constrict, which causes the heart and lungs to go into overdrive. (6)
Make sure you drink enough water and get enough salts in your diet.
This would also mean that you need to avoid substances that dehydrate you, like caffeine and alcohol. Both are diuretics, which means they make us urinate more.
Caffeine also causes our blood vessels to constrict, which can amplify the strength of our anxious symptoms. (7)
3. Maintain Good Sleep Quality
Sleeping well might not do much to reduce anxious symptoms, but sleeping poorly is proven to increase these symptoms. (8)
Studies show that meditation has positive effects on all kinds of bodily processes, including our mood.
If you’re not familiar with meditation, you need to keep in mind that it’s impossible to make our brain stop thinking so the goal is not to fight your thought.
Rather, the goal is to create a distance between you and your thoughts by noticing your thoughts without engaging in them, and to simply shift your attention to something else (like your breath or your pulse in your hand and feet) each time your mind wanders.
5. Grounding Exercises
The Safe Place
Take slow, deep breaths and visualize a safe and calm place in your mind. It could be real or imagined.
Use all of your senses. Notice what you see, what you hear, what you can smell, the texture and temperature you can feel.
Practice this visualization so you can use it whenever you need to. Having a photograph of that place in front of you can be helpful.
The Butterfly Hug
Cross your arms and rest each hand on the opposite shoulder. Tap your hands alternately on each shoulder until you are soothed. Focus on your breathing as you tap.
6. Have a Healthy Support System
A nonjudgmental support system can make a world of difference when recovering from anxiety.
It’s important to keep in mind that it’s our responsibility to request their help and communicate with them what’s helpful and what’s unhelpful.
Free Printable Worksheets For Anxiety (PDF)
- The 333 Rule for Anxiety and Other Coping Strategies (healthline.com)
- Managing and Reducing Anxiety – AdultMentalHealth.org
- Anxiety About Going to Work? 3-3-3 Rule to Manage Overwhelm – Atrium (atriumstaff.com)