The 1,2,3 of coping with Anxiety...
Like so many of the conditions which are associated with health, anxiety presents itself in a wide range of guises.
Often it can be expected, appropriate and natural - if you’re due to sit an exam, present to a roomful of people or receive medical results for example, a gnawing worry in the pit of your stomach is pretty ‘normal’. This kind of anxiety generally disappears once the dreaded event is over and calm is restored until the next stressful situation crops up - after which it dissipates …and so on. A manageable, relatively low level roller coaster that’s thrust upon us through everyday life.
There can sometimes be a point however when this day-to-day rollercoaster ramps up and the feelings of anxiety become more constant and uncontrollable.
As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another will immediately materialise - and another and another and they all seem daunting. This level of anxiety often stems from lots of stressful issues cropping up at once and becoming unmanageable - but it can also be a case of anxious feelings about relatively everyday situations becoming magnified and seemingly overbearing.
Whatever levels you might be experiencing, if you are wondering how to cope with anxiety then there are some really useful tools that can be used to help you maintain control and reclaim a sense of calm, whatever the situation.
My ‘1,2,3 of Anxiety’ summarises some of the most simple but effective tools. If you are prone to bouts of anxiety then finding ways to incorporate these tools into a busy life schedule can be a challenge in itself, but making time could really prove to be beneficial ongoing.
The 1,2,3 of Anxiety.
1. Breathe - Simply said, simply done.
If you can learn to have a breathing technique ‘tool’ it can help you manage your anxiety before it becomes too wild and irrational. I’ve found breathing numbers is a great focus, For example ‘7/11 breathing’. Breathe in for 7, breathe out for 11 - slowly. Another option is ‘square breathing’ - a yoga technique which is good for refocusing the mind, if you google ‘square breathing’. You’ll find plenty of resources and variations on this technique.
2. Write - Do you feel like a pressure cooker ready to explode?
Like you’re up to your eyeballs with no room for anything else? How would it feel to gradually release the pressure bit by bit? Starting a ‘worry diary’ or ‘anxiety journal’ is a safe place to offload and compartmentalise. 5 or 10 minutes daily will be a positive move in managing your anxiety and releasing the pressure without feeling too overwhelmed.
3. Mindfulness - The art of sitting and being.
You don’t have to be a meditation guru to do this. Mindfulness is much simpler than full-blown meditation - it’s like being a watcher of your thoughts. Simply sitting for a minute can be hugely beneficial to a busy, anxious person. There are an abundance of books and self help guides out there. Personally, I would highly recommend the Headspace app - it’s free to begin with and a fabulous introduction to Mindfulness. No complications and it’s very clear to follow.
None of the above will stop Anxiety entirely in its tracks.
Anxiety exists in all of us and it’s what naturally keeps us alert or excited about the things we face. If you feel your Anxiety is taking too much control, the above suggestions may be able to help you manage it. They are not designed to create a sense of failure, they are a tool for you to use and hopefully move forward.