While it’s normal to feel nervous about an important event or major change in life – such as pregnancy or moving to a different state – being in a constant state of worry can be a sign of a more serious underlying problem. Anxiety refers to intense, excessive, and constant worry and fear about everyday situations. It comes in all shapes and sizes and affects about 40 million Americans.1 For those with anxiety disorders, it’s important to adopt habits for anxiety relief to properly manage symptoms without turning to harmful behaviors like overeating or substance abuse. Among common anxiety coping skills is the 333 anxiety rule.
As the saying goes, three is the magic number, and in light of this, the anxiety 333 rule was born. From Aristotle to the Bible to modern-day content writing and psychology, three seem to hold a certain level of magic.
Since the 4th century BCE (and maybe even before then), the number three has been a cornerstone in persuasive communication tactics. When it comes to sharing information with others, research shows that people are more likely to remember things in groups of three.
There are plenty of examples of the number three at work. A common one is the three steps you should follow when you’re on fire: stop, drop, and roll. And while the solution in an anxiety-inducing situation won’t always be obvious or easy, studies show that behavior can be greatly influenced by the 333 anxiety rule.
So, what’s the 333 rule for anxiety? This rule works on three of your senses: sight, sound, and touch.
Part one of the anxiety 333 rule is to pause and take a look at your surroundings. Focus your vision on the physical objects around you. Then, name three things that you see in your environment. Pay attention to the details of these objects.
For instance, if you see a flower pot, notice the color, the patterns, and the way the texture looks. If it’s painted with a pattern of flowers or something else, count how many of these things are painted on the pot. Notice the colors of the cracks in the glaze coating.
This first step of the 333 anxiety rule is meant to stop people in their tracks when they’re on the verge of an anxiety attack or when their thoughts are spiraling.
Next on the list is focusing your attention on sound. After you’ve taken note of three things in your environment that you see in detail, you can then focus on identifying three things that you hear. Take note of the pitch and cadence or melody of each sound.
You can even try to figure out what these sounds are. Is it a bird? Is that a car alarm in the distance? Is there a plane somewhere?
The final step in the 333 anxiety rule is touch. Once you’ve embraced the sights and sounds around you, now it’s time to engage your sense of touch. Choose three parts of your body to move.
For instance, you can wiggle your fingers or toes, or you can move your head from side to side or tap your left foot. For some people, combining the things they see, hear, and touch can eventually work similarly to a soothing melody.
Try to enjoy the rhythm that these sights, sounds, and sensations create. Music is known to pull people out of the darkest emotional places, so consider this exercise one that allows you to make your own music.
The purpose of the 333 anxiety rule is to help people with anxiety realize that there are things that remain in their control. Anxiety is overwhelming and is often triggered by situations that make us feel as if we’re not in control. Unfortunately, it’s not easy for everyone to just “snap out of it” or simply let go of the things they can’t control.
On the other hand, there are plenty of things that are still in one’s control, even during an anxiety attack, and these include what we see, hear, and touch. By practicing the 333 anxiety rule, an individual with an anxiety disorder can shift their awareness to the present, bringing them back to the center.
While we often cannot change what’s happening in the world around us, we can change our perspective.
While it may not always feel like it, you are in control of your life, and there are so many great things you can do to manage your anxiety. However, not everyone knows where to start, and that’s okay.
Our Florida mental health rehab offers residential treatment for disorders, like anxiety and depression, that can help you or a loved one find their footing and get started on recovery. Our therapists and counselors work day-to-day with clients to help them better understand the sources of their symptoms and how best to manage them.
From role-playing anxiety-inducing situations to simply offering a listening ear, our Banyan team is here for you. Call Banyan Treatment Centers now at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our Boca Raton anxiety treatment and other mental health programs.