Well where should I start?
So many of us struggle with it from day to day and some of us have it more severe than others. I’m not going to pretend that I know everything there is to know about anxiety. I don’t. But I do know that anxiety has greatly affected my life and the lives of many people who I love… and from my experience it is something that never completely disappears. It is a life long condition that you either learn to manage… Or you don’t.
Some of us feel it the strongest first thing in the morning. Some of us feel it most when we have a super long TO DO list to tackle. Some of us feel it in uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations. Others struggle with it as a side effect of medications they take. And many feel it because of certain trauma they’ve experienced in their life… It could also be a combination of some or all of these of things. Or perhaps you have absolutely no clue what triggers it for you. Maybe it’s just always there.
Anxiety can create so much interference in our lives if we let it. For me personally, it’s at times led me to do things like back out of commitments, or stay in bed way too long, or procrastinate important things, or over eat when I’m not even hungry.
But over the past months of my life I have finally been able to cultivate some very helpful things that have actually worked for me and have given me so much relief and empowerment in managing this thing called Anxiety. Some of these ideas came from people who I admire and who’s research and experience have proven these tools to be very effective. Some of them might be super effective for you too!
THE FOUR POWERFUL TOOLS THAT MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE FOR ME:
- ACKNOWLEDGE IT AND ACTIVELY ACCEPT IT
The way you acknowledge and actively accept your anxiety is by NOT RESISTING it. I used to always try resisting and avoiding the anxiety, but it only made it stronger. Now, I’ve learned to just remind myself that nothing has gone wrong and I am just experiencing a FEELING… when I consciously label it as “just a feeling”, that alone takes away so much of it’s power for me. And then I simply OBSERVE my thoughts and direct my mind to either empowering thoughts or peaceful thoughts or whatever I choose! But the first step is just allowing the anxiety to be there without fighting it. Just RELAX into it. I know this might sound easier said than done but the more you practice this the better you’ll get. I’m not perfect at it but when I intentionally do this it REAALLLYYY helps the anxiety to ease up.
- WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE
I’m referring to the language you use when you’re talking or thinking to yourself. What is your self-talk like? Is it positive or negative? You might not even be aware of it. But you can become aware of it just by spending some time (I’d say a few days) listening to your inner dialogue. Notice if you have a negative voice in your head that’s critical or self- sabotaging in some way. (I totally did for years and didn’t even realize it- Mine was a voice or fear, stress and blame. Which constantly influenced my anxiety to sky rocket! ) WRITE DOWN the thoughts that you notice are frequent or repeating in your head on a daily basis. Now this is where you could implement THOUGHT WORK which could be super effective for you! If you want some help or guidance with that go to my previous post!
- SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THE ANXIETY
I have found a very effective way to do this (which I learned from Professor Brene Brown and Life Coach Brooke Castillo). You can help separate yourself from the anxiety by thinking or talking in third person as you work through your thoughts. Or just by simply using the phrase “my brain”. That’s what I often do. For example, Instead of saying “I’m so anxious, I’m feeling so much anxiety over this”, I’ll say “My brain is obviously anxious about this situation” or “My brain is feeling stressed about this… I wonder why?” That alone really helps to take away it’s power and lets me separate myself from it. It allows me to have a more neutral(or third party) perspective of my thoughts and emotions. And most of all it helps me to get curious about my thoughts and emotions rather than just getting lost in them. I’ve learned that when I allow myself to get lost in them, my anxiety will just continue to spiral. And for me personally, that’s just not something I ever enjoy or find useful.
- FIND THINGS THAT WORK FOR YOU
Inspiration may come to you about actions you could take or things you could try that could help. DO IT! Don’t just let it go as a fleeting thought. It could end up making a HUGE difference for you. Something I felt guided to do earlier this year was change my morning routine. My anxiety used to always hit hardest first thing in the morning. So instead of sleeping until my kids wake up I decided to start setting my alarm to wake up 30 minutes before my kids typically do (which felt like a HUGE deal because I loooove my sleep). But it was one of the best decisions for myself that I could have made. I use that time to shower (in PEACE) and connect with myself. I get my mind in a strong place and focus on my intentional, positive thoughts. Then I get out and typically turn on a podcast or music that I love listening to while I continue getting ready for the day. Ever since I started doing this my days have gone so much smoother and it’s allowed me to start the morning with MUCH more mental and emotional strength and waaaaay less anxiety. Depending on your schedule this may not be an option for you but if it is you may want to give it a try!
–Exercise! Get your body moving. Whether it’s through a gym class, or dancing, or just simple workouts at home. Whatever works for you! There is plenty of research that proves exercise to be incredibly effective and beneficial for your brain, your emotions, etc.
–Herbal Teas– My close friend drinks a couple different herbal teas that she finds super helpful in easing her anxiety. The ones she recommends are Chamomile and Passion Flower. There are many others you could try as well.
–Breathing Control– You’ve probably heard someone tell you to “Just breathe” at some point in your life. But it’s actually way better advice than I ever realized. If you deliberately slow down your breathing when you’re feeling anxious or stressed, there is scientific evidence showing that it literally calms your brain. For me, it works. There are plenty of breathing exercises you can find online!
–Soothing Candle and Music- This is one of my personal favorites, but you’d obviously have to be at home to do it. It helps my brain to create calming and peaceful thoughts, which then allows me to FEEL calm and peaceful emotions, which then helps me to function better and have a more focused mind throughout my day (or night).
–Find Alone Time and Write in Your Journal– I’ve mentioned before how beneficial it is to write out your thoughts so you can see what’s going on in your brain. I just can’t say it enough. And I find it INCREDIBLY helpful in dealing with and managing my anxiety.
These are just a handful of suggestions! There are so many things out there that could help you in managing your anxiety. But I think the most crucial place to start is within your own mind. Deciding every day when you wake up that you’re anxiety is only stronger than you if you allow it to be. That doesn’t mean it wont be hard or it wont still feel scary at times. But It’s knowing and telling yourself as many times as necessary that “this is just a feeling. I am ok.”
You are more than ok… You are AMAZING! And I would love to hear some of YOUR tips for managing anxiety! Feel free to reach out!