UK-based clinical psychologist Julie Smith shares useful tools on her TikTok page (and all over social media, really) for processing anxiety, stress, and other mental health struggles. There’s her video on breaking down anxious thoughts and one about early telltale signs of burnout, and the clip above showing a skill to calm the body and mind does not disappoint either.
Dr. Smith demonstrates the following technique: hold one hand out in front of you like you’re admiring a ring, and, using your other hand, trace your fingers from your thumb to your pinky (or vice versa) while breathing slowly. Make sure your exhale is drawn out and longer than your inhale and that you’re breathing in when you are at the top of your fingers and exhaling when you’re tracing downward. She suggests repeating this for several minutes to calm your stress response to whatever is causing you anxiety.
Just by testing it out myself on a work-filled Monday morning, I found it to be relaxing simply because the motion of tracing my fingers reminded me of the rise and fall — the crests and troughs — of ocean waves. Give it a try for yourself if you feel anxiety building and are in need of something soothing.