There are many definitions for anxiety but one that resonates with me is seeing it as a buildup of energy that is looking for release in your body. Essentially, anxiety is a part of our life-force energy that enables us to engage with life and so it will be with us till the day we die. For instance, anxiety and excitement are two sides of the same coin, both create the same sensations in the body (e.g. butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms). But what makes them different is how we think about it and respond to the pent-up energy? Making friends with this energy rather than fearing it may be a first place to start.
So how do we become friends with our anxiety?
Take a moment to check what is happening in the body. Notice your breathing and see if you can take a few deep breaths (i.e. Inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 6 seconds). What this does is help bring more oxygen into your body and steady your heart so that you are better able to assess what you want to do next.
2) Beware of thoughts drifting!
Sometimes our thinking can become automatic and negative. One way to interrupt this train of thought and bring yourself back into the present moment is to ask yourself the following questions: Does this worry require my attention now? How likely is it to happen? and are you jumping/forecasting too far into the future?
3) Get Moving
If there is a build up of energy the best way to come unstuck is to move. Our bodies are designed to move so engage with an activity that you like best (as it will be easier to do) such as putting on some music and having a boogie around the kitchen or getting outside into the fresh air and going for a walk, run or even going to the gym for a work-out, yoga class or swim. It can be anything at all, but the main thing is to get moving and notice how better you feel when you do.
4) Talk to Someone
Sometimes we think we can manage on our own but talking and sharing with someone who understands (e.g. a friend/family member/therapist) can provide us with another way of looking at things as well as support.
5) Write it down
The very act of journaling or writing our worries down can help us become clear about what we are thinking and carrying inside us. It can be comforting to have a record and notice that vast majority of the things we worry about don’t come to pass.
6) Reduce Intake of Stimulants
Caffeine and alcohol have been known to amplify anxiety symptoms, so if at all possible try to reduce your intake of these drinks and substitute with more healthier alternatives (e.g. water, herbal teas, smoothies…)
7) Healthy Gut
It has been proven that a healthy gut can improve our overall mental health. Keeping our gut in good working order (i.e. so that we get absorb the nutrients of what we are eating) can be achieved by adding natural yoghurt, kefir to your diet.
8) Sleep Hygiene
Sometimes our thoughts can keep us awake. Here are just some ways of preparing your-self to settle-down for a good night’s sleep: Journaling before bed, device-free zone a minimum of 30 minutes before bed, going for a shower/bath, putting some drops of lavender on your pillow or having a hot water bottle, drinking some hot coco/milk.
We are primed to think negatively as it has helped our species to adapt and survive. Positivity on the other-hand requires effort on our part. So begin to cultivate an attitude of appreciation for all the good things that you have in your life and notice that as you do your energy lifts.
10) Have some Fun
One of the best and quickest ways to relax, is to have a hobby that you enjoy. Whatever it is, do more of it and notice how good it makes you feel.