Living with anxiety can feel like a constant battle. Between therapy sessions, medication, and other coping strategies, it can be hard to find something that works consistently. However, there is one simple tool that you may not have considered before: ice packs.
While it may seem counterintuitive to use something cold to calm down, using ice packs can actually be an effective way to manage anxiety. Here are some ways that ice packs can help:
Distract from racing thoughts
When you’re in the throes of anxiety, your thoughts can feel like they’re spinning out of control. Placing an ice pack on your chest or the back of your neck can provide a physical sensation that can help distract your mind from those racing thoughts. By focusing on the sensation of the cold, you can give your mind a break from the constant stream of worries.
Soothe physical symptoms
Anxiety doesn’t just affect your mind – it can also have physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and muscle tension. Placing an ice pack on your chest or the back of your neck can help soothe some of those physical symptoms. The cold temperature can help slow down your heart rate and reduce tension in your muscles, which can help you feel more relaxed overall.
Ground you in the present moment
Anxiety often stems from worries about the future or ruminating on the past. Placing an ice pack on your chest or the back of your neck can help ground you in the present moment by giving you something tangible to focus on. By focusing on the sensation of the cold, you can bring yourself back to the present and reduce some of the anxiety that comes from worrying about what might happen in the future.
How do you use ice packs to manage anxiety?
Here are some tips:
- Keep a few ice packs in your freezer so they’re readily available when you need them or try reusable ice-pack cold bags.
- Use a cloth or towel to wrap the ice pack so it doesn’t feel too cold on your skin.
- Hold the ice pack on your chest, forehead, the back of your neck, or any other area where you feel tension or discomfort.
- Try using ice packs during a mindfulness practice or meditation to enhance the experience.
Remember, using ice packs is just one tool in your anxiety management toolkit. It’s important to work with a mental health professional to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that works for you. However, in those moments when you’re feeling particularly anxious, reaching for an ice pack can be a simple and effective way to find some relief.
If you are struggling with anxiety, and need help, please contact me, Dr. Christine Dickson, clinical psychologist. My practice focuses on mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy, which is an evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders. Please reach out to me today through my website.