- Identify your triggers. Where is your stress and anxiety coming from?
This could be Physiological factors such as trauma, illness, fatigue, hormone imbalances, dehydration or poor diet. It could also be Psychological such as Emotions, how we perceive life, our thinking patterns and Psychosocial such as relationship difficulties, social support, isolation, bereavement, employment, etc.
- Current coping Strategies. Look at your current coping strategies. Often times we don’t realise that our comping strategies are actually bad for us. It may ither keep us in our comfort zone or it may worsen our anxiety. For example, some people eat more or eat less often when they are feeling anxious. Others turn to drugs or alcohol thinking that it may calm their nerves, but in actual fact all of these worsens your anxiety in the long term.
- New coping strategies. Look at the below list and select a few suggested coping strategies that you think may work for you. Practice them every time you feel anxious. Don’t just try a coping strategy once or twice. It will take some time, but if something really doesn’t work for you, ditch it and try something else.
- Awareness: Where exactly in your body do you feel your anxiety?It could be your stomach turning, a tightness in your chest? I have the weirdest thing myself – I itch in between my toes when I feel anxious. And you can’t really scratch between your toes! So it forces me to get up and do something else.
- Tennis ball: It’s not just fun for dogs and playing tennis! Roll a tennis ball across your shoulders and under your feet for instant anxiety relief.
- Exercise: Of course, this will be in this list! Exercise burns away stress hormones that create anxiety symptoms. It tires your muscles which in turn reduces excess energy and tension. Exercise is a healthy distraction , it forces healthier breathing and releases endorphins to improve your overall mood.
- Fake it until you make it. The way you behave reflects how you feel. Our emotions have bodily manifestations, and these manifestations are triggered by the emotions we are experiencing. The good news is that this can be changed. So start smiling a lot if you want to feel happier!
- Magnesium. There is evidence that magnesium, a naturally occurring vitamin, can decrease anxiety symptoms. (Speak to a doctor about magnesium supplements)
- Control your breathing. * Place one hand on your chest and the other over your stomach. As you breathe, your stomach should move, not your chest. * Take slow, regular breaths, in through your nose. Watch your hands as you breathe in. * Breathe out slowly through your mouth. * Repeat x 10.
- Have an anxiety disaster plan: You need to have something to take your mind off your anxiety immediately. Consider * calling someone, * listening to music, a podcast or tv show, * find things that can help reduce your anxiety.
- Practice Gratitude: Write down 3 things every day that you are grateful for. Or 3 things that happened that day that was positive for you.
- Cultivate a positive mindset: This is super important. The more negative you are, the more worrying thoughts you will have. See the good and the positive in everything and learn to change your mindset.
- Use your Senses: In the moment you feel anxious, focus on – * 5 things you can see, * 4 things you can touch, *3 things you can hear, * 2 things you can smell, * 1 thing you can taste.
- Challenge your thinking: * Is it realistic? Is it likely to happen? * If the worst possible outcome happens, what would be so bad about that? * Could I handle it? * What might I do? * If something bad happens, what does it mean about me? * Is this really true or is it just my perception? * What can I do to prepare for whatever may happen?
- Ask yourself these 3 questions: 1. What is the worst possible outcome? 2. What is the best possible outcome? 3. What is most likely to happen?
- Set limits. Make a list of all the projects and obligations that may cause anxiety. Identify the things you feel you must complete, and eliminate anything that isn’t necessary. Discuss a list of your obligations with your supervisor for work-related projects, and obtain his or her feedback on priorities and how to best tackle the assignments at hand.
For social commitments, say no when you need to and don’t feel obligated to do anything you cannot cope with at that time.
- 478 Breathing Technique: * Put your tongue behind the top of your front teeth. * Close your mouth, inhale through your nose whilst counting to 4. * hold your breath for the count of 7. * Exhale completely through your mouth making a whooshing sound whilst counting to 8.
* Repeat x 5.
- Wipe negative thoughts away: When you do have a negative thought or some time of trigger enter your imagination, visualise it turning into some type of object, and then have some relaxing thing take it away. For example, a stressful boss could be lifted up and taken away by a he hot air balloon until it is gone.
- Count backwards: Slowly count backwards from 5 to one. You can do this in your mind or out loud/ Start over every time you reach one. As you do this, have slow, measured breathing. Count slowly to breathe at a better pace. Repeat until your mind focus on less anxious thoughts.
- Start counting up: When you are feeling anxious, start counting from one. Every time you get distracted by an intrusive thought, begin counting at one again. Keep doing this and see how high you can count to. Don’t get frustrated if you have to start again. It’s a learning process.
- Anxiety v Exhilaration: Anxiety and exhilaration come with the same physical symptoms – heavy breathing, increased heart rate, dry mouth, sweating, twisting stomach etc. If you decide to look at a threatening situation as a challenge, your anxiety will become exhilarating.
- Positive affirmations: Have a list of positive affirmations you can recite to yourself when feeling anxious. Pick your own from the list or better yet, create your own. * I feel calm and serene. * I am a great person. * I am having a good day. * I love my life. * I am in control. * I love my body. * I believe in myself. * I can cope. * I will cure my anxiety. * I have an will have a positive attitude.
- Seek professional help: There is nothing to be fearful or ashamed about asking for additional help. Therapists are trained to help you become a better version of yourself. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can live the life you want to live. A qualified mental health professional is your best bet if your anxiety is unbearable.
- Volunteer: By offering help to others, whether it be volunteering at your local community or doing small acts of kindness for others, it will not only make you feel good about yourself and make others happy, but it will also keep your mind off of negative thoughts.
- Aromatherapy scents for anxiety: Basil, cinnamon, rose, sandalwood, lavender, juniper, geranium, patchouli.
- Herbal remedies for anxiety: Kava, Valerian, Passionflower, Chamomile.
- Don’t fill up your day. You are not obligated to complete everything right away. Don’t fill every minute of your day with ‘things to do.’ We don’t allow ourselves TIME when we constantly fill our time with mental to-do lists, which can lead to emotions of tension and anxiety. All you have to do is be and breathe.
- Start chewing gum: When you find yourself in a stressful situation or feeling anxious, start chewing gum. It makes your brain think you are eating and that there is no danger. That’s why your brain will start feeling relaxed.
- Alternate nostril breathing: 1. Use your right thumb to close off your right nostril. 2. Inhale slowly through your left nostril. 3. Pause for a count of one. 4. Now close your left nostril with your ring finger (of your right hand) and release your thumb off your right nostril. 5. Exhale through your right nostril. 6. Now inhale through your right nostril, closing your left nostril. 7. Pause for the count of one. 8. Close off your right nostril with your right thumb. 9. Breathe out through your left nostril. Repeat 5 times.
- Colour breathing: Visualise breathing in blue and breathing out red.
- Acupuncture is a way that some people use to rid themselves of all sorts of problems, including anxiety and depression. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and can help heal aches, pains and even headaches. Some people who suffer from depression or anxiety swear by this healing method which has its roots in ancient China.
- Your thoughts are simply JUST thoughts – not truths. We frequently think ourselves into negative thinking patterns, and we believe these beliefs to be true because we keep telling ourselves that they are. We will believe and cultivate a terrible memory if we consistently believe we have one. If we consistently believe that we will never lose weight, make money, or improve -and guess what – you never will! Begin to think positively and to believe what you think. Trust me when I say that your mind will go to great lengths to make your beliefs a reality!
- Relaxation suggestions: * Do some exercise like swimming, yoga or cycling. * Read a book. * Take a long bath. * Do something creative. * Visit a friend. * Watch your favourite TV show. * Go to the Cinema. * Relax with some music.
- Be Mindful: * Close your eyes and observe your breathing. Notice your body, how the intake of air feels and what sensations you observe. * Shift your awareness to what you can hear, smell, touch, and be aware of the environment outside your body. * Shift your awareness back and forth from our body to your surroundings several times.
- Quick Muscle Relaxation: * Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Slowly breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. * Make a fist, squeezing your hand tightly. * Hold this for a few seconds, notice the tension. * Slowly open your fingers, relax your hand and feel the difference. Notice the tension leaving. * Now do the same with other large muscles. Pointing your toes, tensing up your shoulders, your calves etc.
- Slow down. Are you in a rat race? Do you find yourself rushing through the day, making mental to-do lists, pushing yourself, feeling unfocused, and overwhelmed? STOP! Slow down mentally by taking 5-10 deep breaths. This will assist you in refocusing and finishing activities.
- Nurture yourself: * Eat regular, well balanced meals. * Avoid or reduce alcohol, nicotine and caffeine intake. * Have a good sleep routine. * Exercise regularly. * Perform regular self-care such as relaxing activities and planned breaks.
- List of 5. Create a list of 5 friends or family members you can call if you need additional support. Sometimes, when super anxious, we forget you might be around to support us. Pull out your list and start calling them one by one. If the first person doesn’t answer or is not available, call the next person on your list. anxious
- Daily meditation: Make use of apps such as YouTube, insight Timer or Headspace and do a daily meditation, even if for just 5 or 10 minutes. It will help you feel more relaxed and become more in tune with your mind and body. Do a quick meditation whenever you feel anxious, but you can also do them when you wake up in the morning or go to bed at night or even during your lunch break.
- Speak to yourself kindly: You are always listening– Have you considered how you speak to yourself? Is the way you speak to yourself, in your head, making you feel better about yourself? Are you beating yourself up? Would you speak to a friend like that?
Whenever you notice you are being unkind to yourself – STOP – breathe – and focus on speaking kindly to the most important person in your life – YOU!
- Get good quality sleep: Sleep and mental health goes hand in hand. If your sleep is poor, your mental health will suffer, and vice versa. Do whatever you can to improve your sleep. Aim for at least 7-9 hours sleep per night. If you are struggling, see a therapist to help you.
- Stop judging yourself. Pay attention to how often you judge yourself throughout the day. Are you criticising yourself based on how you “should” appear or act, or what you say or do? When you become conscious of these thoughts, simply breathe and become aware of your body and emotions. STOP, take 5 deep breaths, and let go of your preconceived notions.
- Occupy your mind. Keep busy. Learn a new skill, language or course. Educate yourself and keep your mind occupied with things that is of interest to you. It is however important too to take a break and allow your mind to relax at times.
- Journaling: Keep a diary of your thoughts. Write down how you feel, your moods and emotions as well as your physical feelings. Sometimes it is good to reflect on what you are experiencing or perhaps see if there is some sort of pattern. There are numerous apps nowadays which you can use for exactly this.
- Schedule your worries: Don’t allow your mind to start worrying at random. Select a specific time each day where you will allow yourself to worry. Say 4pm daily. Every time you have a worrying thought, write it down. Come 4pm, go through your worries one by one. Ask yourself: Can I do anything about my worry? If so, what, when and how? If you can’t, why are you wasting time worrying about it? Shift your focus to something else.
- Punch a pillow: Adrenaline can really fire up your anxiety. Get rid of your adrenaline by punching (or screaming) into a pillow or use a boxing bag if you have one. When you get rid of your adrenaline you will often feel better very quickly.
- Try Yoga, Tai chi or Pilates: These not only helps you shape and define your body, but it also helps you relax and focus on your overall health. Every day, incorporate some form of leisure. Make it a part of your day-to-day routine. Your body will, at the absolute least, thank you.
- Find the humour in life. You should not take everything so serious. Do not be afraid to laugh and have fun in your daily life. You should not bury your emotions. Keep a good light on things and do not be afraid to let people know how you are feeling whether you agree with their thoughts or not.
- Goal setting: To achieve anything in life, we must first set a goal and then take steps toward achieving it. Motivation begins with a strong desire from within. Visualizing our goals will boost our motivation to achieve them. Strong motivation, paired with the will to act, breaks down the barriers that prevent us from achieving our goals. By setting a goal, you can focus all your energy and effort on achieving that goal, instead of wasting your energy on anxious thoughts.
- Improve your self-confidence: Self-confidence means that one believes in oneself. Self-confidence grows as we attain and utilize our strengths. Experiencing a series of small, incremental successes is an excellent way to defeat fear and establish self-confidence.
The less you are affected by your anxiety, the less you will fear it, and the better it will be for you in the long term.
Remember, everything in life is temporary – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If you would like professional help, visit my Anxiety Page. anxious