Living with Anxiety - 7 Tools to Begin Coping
Anxiety is a state of being in which we struggle with feelings of nervousness, worry, or uneasiness. It differs from fear which is an emotion based on a defined threat. Anxiety is based on a perceived threat. The unknown. The dark, blurry place that we might go to as we ruminate and devise plans around each potential outcome, and our possible response to each potential outcome. It sounds unmanageable…and life becomes just that. Constant anxiety leads to constant fatigue, irritability, trouble concentrating, migraines, bowel problems, panic attacks, heart problems, substance abuse…just to name a few.
A wise counsellor once told me that 10% of what we worry about ever comes true. Her next words were, “How are you enjoying the rest of the 90% of your life?”. That one hit home. Learning to cope with anxiety means breaking free from a life of emotional, mental and sometimes physical bondage. It means we can begin to learn about ourselves and grow personally. Here are some tips to begin your journey:
Take a Deep Breath - The knots of anxiety need a break. Relaxation can come in many forms including breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, quiet walks and more. Finding what works to slow life down will allow your mind and heart to find rest during times of stress.
Pay attention to your self-talk – Is it constantly negative? Do you picture the worst in situations? Recognizing when we begin the negative thinking can begin the process of replacing old thinking into improved self-talk.
Feel the Feelings! – If our negative thinking can affect our emotions, then we must to focus on the feelings. Begin to acknowledge them instead of burying them. Build a relationship with and accept each uncomfortable emotion.
Stay in your shoes – When we obsess about the future and outcomes, we obsess about something that may or may not happen. We are powerless over what “might” happen. We have power over what we do with right here and now.
Challenge your unhealthy thinking – Search for evidence, take a helicopter view, consider what you might say to a friend in a similar situation. When we begin to question our automatic thinking, we can gain insight into a more grounded reality.
Learn what Self-Care is – When we worry, we lose sight of the things we can do to take care of ourselves. Nutrition, exercise, fun…Taking time to honour what is life nourishing versus life destructive can bring freedom, joy, and peace.
Reach out – Intense, long term anxiety can take a damaging toll on a person. Talk to your doctor, find a counsellor, support group, or workshop and begin to get educated about anxiety.
Each of these points is a beginning into the journey of anxiety, and must be explored in depth. With effective support and tools, anxiety can be managed on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis. If you are struggling with anxiety, help is available. Contact me anytime.