Rule 333 is a common and informal technique for dealing with anxiety. Its purpose is to help ground you and calm you down at a time when you are feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed.
Rule 333 involves looking around in your current surroundings and:
- name 3 things you see
- identify 3 sounds you hear
- move or touch 3 things, such as your limbs or external objects
Although there is no formal research on the effectiveness of Rule 333, many people find it to be a simple and helpful technique for managing anxiety. Although it won’t completely rid you of your anxiety, it can be a useful tool for managing it in the moment.
Rule 333 is not a substitute for a treatment, no matter how useful it is or how often you use it. We will review other methods for dealing with anxiety aside from Rule 333 and common treatment options for anxiety and anxiety disorders.
In addition to treatments like medication and therapy, you can try other coping techniques for anxiety. These coping techniques can be helpful if:
- You are between therapy sessions.
- You choose not to take medication or you cannot take it.
- You are looking for additional ways to deal with anxiety in the moment.
General coping techniques may include:
- Take a break : Remove yourself from the situation and do something different, like listening to your favorite music or stretching.
- Minimize alcohol and caffeine intake: Alcohol and caffeine can make anxiety worse and cause mood swings.
- Laugh more: Humor naturally relaxes us.
- Take care of your body: Make sure you get enough sleep and eat balanced meals.
- Try mindfulness: Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and the feelings that are going through you.
- Pay attention to your breathing: Use breathing, which refers to different breathing techniques that can help reduce anxiety and stress.
- Meditate: Practice meditation to calm and refocus your body and mind (this activity may include breathing and mindfulness, but not always).
- Stress reduction: Try others stress reduction exercises like tai chi or yoga.
- Soothe physical tension: Consider trying massage or acupuncture to deal with the physical tension created by anxiety in your body.
Many of these coping strategies may also fall under the lifestyle change approach to treating anxiety.
Lifestyle changes can help you manage anxiety. Although they are not the same as medical treatment, they can complement a treatment regimen to reduce the effects of anxiety on your daily life.
Most people experience occasional anxiety – it’s a common part of life. People have temporary anxiety about their job, health issues, family, or relationships. For example, you may become particularly anxious or nervous before a presentation or an important event.
When anxiety becomes overwhelming or chronic, it can interfere with your ability to function in daily life and therefore reduce your overall quality of life. This can lead to avoiding responsibilities, activities and people. It can also cause stress at work, school, and home.
If anxiety is affecting your life to this degree, it may be more than occasional anxious feelings. You may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD is a general and persistent feeling of anxiety.
- Panic disorder: Panic disorder occurs when you have frequent and recurring panic attacks.
- Social anxiety: With social anxiety, you may have a strong and persistent fear of being judged or observed by others, which may interfere with your ability to be in social situations.
- Phobia-related disorders that involve an irrational fear of a specific thing: These include agoraphobia, acrophobia or claustrophobia.
If you think you or a loved one is showing signs of an anxiety disorder, it may be time to seek help. You are not alone, and anxiety is very treatable.
While many of the previously mentioned coping strategies are helpful, they don’t address the underlying cause of the anxiety and may not be enough to completely treat it.
Therapy, medications and lifestyle changes are considered gold standard treatment.
The therapy is an effective treatment for many types of anxiety. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, types of therapy that may be helpful in coping with anxiety include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thought and behavior patterns.
- Exposure therapy: In exposure therapy, you will be slowly exposed to a feared situation to help the fear response diminish over time.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): This type of therapy uses strategies of living in the moment and non-judgment, as well as behavior change, to cope with anxiety.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT combines CBT techniques with meditation concepts.
- Interpersonal therapy: It is a short-term supportive therapy focused on solving interpersonal (or relationship) problems.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR uses bilateral stimulation through eye movements, taps or tones to help heal from past experiences.
Medications are usually used along with therapy for the best possible outcome. Commonly prescribed medications for anxiety include:
- Antidepressants: Healthcare professionals may prescribe certain types of antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This may include sertraline (Zoloft).
- Anxiolytics: Anxiolytics can be prescription drugs from the benzodiazepine class, such as alprazolam (Xanax).
- Beta-blockers : These can be used for certain situations, such as social anxiety. These are blood pressure medications.
Some people with anxiety find that a combination of medications works best for them. Always tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking to prevent unwanted drug interactions.
Anxiety can have a significant impact on your life, especially if it becomes a serious chronic problem.
Rule 333 for anxiety is an easy technique to remember and use in the moment if something triggers your anxiety.
It involves looking around your surroundings to identify three objects and three sounds, then moving three body parts. Many people find this strategy helps them focus and ground themselves when anxiety overwhelms them.
If your anxiety is constant or interferes in several areas of your life, you may need more than temporary coping strategies. Anxiety disorders can be treated with medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.
If you experience symptoms of anxiety regularly or with intensity, talk to your doctor. They can help connect you with the right mental health resources and develop an individualized treatment plan that’s right for you.