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Anxiety first aid: the 4Ds Technique

    Although incorporating the skills of anxiety reduction requires persistence and practice, there are certain techniques that often serve as immediate means of anxiety reduction. Most commonly these techniques are clubbed together and known as the ‘Four D’s Technique’.

    These 4 D’s can not only be used by adults undergoing stress and anxiety, but also by children when they are feeling distressed. As such, the 4 D’s entail the following activities -:

    D: Deep breathing

    The first D involves carrying out deep breathing exercises. Whenever we have a negative thought in mind, we take a few deep breaths to learn to acknowledge the thought instead of trying to simply disregard the distressing thought. Doing so will prevent us from slipping into the anxious thought spiral.

    D: Drink a Glass of Water

    The second D involves drinking a glass of water. It is not only our mind but also our body that produces responses to stressors and anxiety-provoking stimuli around us. So drinking a glass of water, preferably cold, will help you to break away from the negative thoughts by diverting your attention and soothing your body. This will, thereby, help you reflect and respond in appropriate ways toward the stressor.

    D: Delay

    The third D involves consciously attempting to delay the emergence of the negative thoughts. For instance, if you are working on a task and then the negative thoughts start coming into your mind, tell yourself that you can always think about them later. Try to push thinking about them to a later point of time. This will help you prioritize what is important and essential at a particular point of time.

    D: Distract

    The fourth D involves distracting ourselves from the negative thoughts that we are having by engaging ourselves in other activities. When you have a thought that is disrupting the way you are performing a task, resort to activities like listening to music, going for a run, taking a stroll, sketching and so on. It will help you take the necessary time-out that you need to break away from the distressing thoughts that you may be having at a particular point in time.


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