Feeling overly anxious can be a massive hindrance to your daily life. It’s especially hard to control because once the anxious thoughts are implanted in our minds, the fears, ‘what ifs’ and worst-case scenarios can start to spiral out of control. Our sleep gets disrupted, our health can deteriorate and it can stop us from living our lives the way we’d ideally want to. In a word, anxiety can be paralysing and it can grow from small thoughts and doubts to big fears.
Learning to deal with anxiety can be hard but if you feel that you’re at a stage where you want to do something about it yourself then this guide will take you through some daily tips that you can do to relieve your anxiety and gain back some control for your life. Dealing with anxiety isn’t about just thinking positively, it’s a gentle process to train your mind to be more calm and to rein in the feelings of fear which are only created in your head.
Worrying is very hard to stop because it’s probably been a lifetime pattern of thinking that’s become almost automatic. If it’s something you’re prone to doing and have done for a long time, it may have just become a mechanism that you use to almost protect yourself – you’ve unconsciously trained your mind into immediately seeing the negatives and the problems in a situation rather than the positives. Gaining new perspectives as well as changing lifestyle habits and adopting techniques can help you on the way to curbing your anxiety issues.
Stage 1: Getting Perspective On Your Worries
Your beliefs are only in your head. It’s important to realise this because most of what’s going on in our minds aren’t reality. If you have fears and doubts they only exist because you’ve allowed them to and that doesn’t mean they’re real on the outside. If you really start to train your mind to think that irrational thoughts are just that, then you can start to ignite a different way of seeing your problems. Curbing anxiety starts with the mind, your perspective and the way you choose to see everything so here is the best place to start.
- Ask Yourself ‘Is It Possible To Solve The Problem’?
There’s a difference between worrying and problem-solving. When we worry we believe that we are dealing with the problem because we temporarily detach from the emotions when we worry about it therefore it actually becomes a type of distraction. In this space we aren’t finding a solution we are just prolonging it in our minds. Instead of worrying, try intentionally thinking of a solution. If you find a solution then you diminish the worry you created in the first place.
- Gaining Perspective
Combating anxiety issues is mainly down to perspective. Worrying allows us to get a screwed up version of the problem and can even create a problem that wasn’t there in the first place. It’s really important to distinguish between solvable and unsolvable problems to reduce your amount of worry. Most of our problems can be solved possibly easier than we think so consciously trying to gain new perspectives and shifting our mindset will help deal with anxiety issues in a constructive way.
- Challenging Your Anxious Thoughts
The problem with suffering from anxiety is that we tend to believe our thoughts are fact. Challenging your thoughts is a way of not letting your mind give in to them and gaining some control. It’s good to get into the habit of examining your worries and anxieties and questioning them – we are so used to letting these thoughts runaway that they are never confronted and dealt with. Ask yourself some questions like what’s the likelihood of what I’m scared of actually happening? What evidence is there that makes this worry true or not true? Is there a better way to perceive this problem – a more positive one? Really try to challenge your thoughts and get your mind to think differently about them.
Stage 2: Lifestyle Changes To Deal With Anxiety
There are many changes we can make in our daily lives that can contribute to less worry and anxiety. Creating and obtaining a healthy lifestyle can set us up to deal with anxiety better and more effectively. What goes on in our mind can transcend to the rest of our body and can start to take its toll.
- Creating An Exercise Routine
As for a lot of stress and anxiety issues, exercise is a wonderful and necessary way to combat them. It’s so effective that in some cases, it has known to calm a person’s anxiety entirely. Releasing endorphins and getting the blood and oxygen pumping naturally clears your head of thoughts and allows your brain to relax. Getting rid of the tension caused by too much worry and stress will only serve you when it comes to the way you deal with thoughts of anxiety. After a good cardiovascular workout the benefits continue for hours and feeling good and positive from the workout will decrease significantly the negative thoughts and ideas that generate in your head.
- Relaxation At Home
It’s important to create a haven where you can ideally relax and escape from your worries and anxieties. Doing the things that relax you like a hot bath or shower, listening to calming music or reading books is crucial if you’re an overly-anxious person. Taking time out to sit quietly and do the things you love and make you happy will have a great effect on calming your mind. Often we forget to do these things or we bring home the anxieties of the day continuing the cycle. If you can try to break that cycle and just put time aside in your sanctuary even for 30 minutes to an hour, your body and mind will reap the benefits.
- Eating Healthily
There are many foods that can help and hinder your anxiety. Make sure you avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar which are anxiety-inducing and can increase periods of worry. Many foods high in anti-oxidants help enhance your mood especially cranberries, blueberries and blackberries. Also include any food high in magnesium as lack of magnesium can trigger anxiety – oily fish, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables are a great addition. Caffeine-free tea like Oolong contains GABA which is an amino acid that helps with calming the nervous system and promotes sleep. It’s important to get a wide variety of healthy foods and supplements that promote a nutritious body and mind that will help you deal with anxiety more efficiently.
Stage 3: Mindfulness Techniques To Deal With Anxiety
Since our mind is the number one culprit in worry, anxiety and stress, it makes sense to target the mind and create a calming influence on it. Suffering from anxiety means that we are not living in the present moment but rather worrying about something in the past or the future. It’s important to focus on the present – the here and now – to gain perspective. A calmer mind will equal calmer thoughts so it’s really important to focus on learning mindfulness techniques. These techniques are a wonderful way to train your mind to think differently, and again, can give you greater perspective in your world and the outer world.
- Practising Meditation
There is so much research about how effective mediation is when it comes to anxiety and the stress that it causes. Regular mediation practice has been found to calm the body and the mind, reducing blood pressure, improving immune systems, enhancing mood and therefore reducing depression – so many benefits from just a simple routine you can do on a daily basis. Meditation will train your brain to focus which is a great skill to develop when you suffer from anxiety; it will reduce the stress you feel around problems and allow you to see problems more clearly.
- Breathing Techniques
Breathing techniques are a great way to counteract stress and anxiety. When we’re stressed and anxious we tend to make shorter and sharper breathes which results in an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body. When we breathe deeply and calmly, we are sending more oxygen to the brain which allows us to relax, calm down and see things more clearly. When you find yourself feeling particularly anxious then stop and breathe deeply letting the breathe out slowly – doing this several times will help you reset.
- Yoga And Mindful Walking
Two great mindfulness practices are yoga and mindful walking. Yoga incorporates mediation with good stretching positions that are beneficial for your mind and body. It helps you to be mindful and relaxed helping to calm your thoughts and worries. Another great habit to have is mindful walking which involves taking a walk and focusing on your breathing, how your body is moving and taking in your surroundings. It’s a great way to train your mind to think about the present moment rather than be living in the worry of the past or the future.
Stage 4: Further Practical Techniques To Deal With Anxiety
Sometimes you just need techniques that you can pull on when you’re feeling the anxiety levels rising up. These are handy to have when you feel overwhelmed.
- Repeating Your Worry
This may seem counterproductive but experts say that repeating your worry over and over will cause you to get bored of it. When we adapt to something we become more comfortable with it so when you find yourself feeling anxious about something in particular then deal with it head-on by thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it! Eventually your brain will get sick of it or bored and the thought will start to become less and less.
- Setting Aside A Particular Time To Worry
Let’s face it, we are never going to get rid of our ability to worry. It’s quite ingrained and all of us worry to some degree. The problem with having anxiety issues is that we tend to worry all the time. They crop up here there and everywhere; our brain wanting to stew over them there and then. This can take its toll on our mind and our body causing fatigue and tiredness which just adds to stress and more worry. Try setting up a particular time to process your worries preferably at the end of the day. Write them down when they come up and set it aside to think about later. The beauty of this is that you’ll find a lot of your worries won’t exist anymore by the end of the day – and if they still do then your worry time can deal with it.
- Making Peace With Time
The problem with anxiety is that time can feel like it’s running out or slowing down. Things can feel like an emergency or that you’re waiting forever for something to happen or not happen. Try to make peace with time in that most of our worries either never materialise or float away eventually. Remember how many times a problem never turned out to be a problem; that emergency was never an emergency. Stop and ask yourself if you’re really going to be worrying about this in the next hour, day, month or year? By doing this you can put less significance and importance on what’s causing you the anxiety.
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com