In the last two BLOGs I've talked about what anxiety is and how you can spot it. This BLOG will focus on some self help tips so that you can look to support yourself. Remember though, if you are stuck in the cycle of anxiety and cannot see a way out you need to seek support. A lot of people I support know they are not 'right' but cannot put their finger on it and need help finding their 'triggers'. It is OK not to be OK!
Here are some tips that I hope help if you suffer with anxiety:
Talk to someone you trust - sometimes the art of being listened to is enough to help you to move forward
It is important that you understand how breathing affects our feelings. There are lots of free resources available to help you learn how. There are free resources on my website that explain just that. Try to practice the technique next time you feel anxious
Go out for a walk, or do something you love (dance, sing, play your Xbox or PlayStation, cook, read)
Go to the gym or do some physical exercise (cleaning and gardening count as physical exercise - they do in my world)
Try a complementary therapy - meditation is a great way to help alleviate anxiety and stress. There are free guided meditations on my website that will help
Find a local support group
Distract yourself - go out, call a friend, do something you love to do. Getting yourself 'out of your own head' really does help
You can also choose to change your thought process and confront your anxiety so that you can be in control of it. This will have long term benefits overall.
As with everything noticing and changing your though process takes practice and if you are unable to think about a more helpful and realistic thought ask someone you trust what they would think. I have some sheets that are a great start. Email me if you would like a copy.
You can also test yourself further. You can make a plan to gradually do the things you normally avoid. For instance if you normally avoid going out to big social events because they make you feel anxious, then start with a smaller events (with a few friends) where you might feel more comfortable. It will feel uncomfortable at first and you will learn that you can enjoy these events, and that the anxious feeling does go away. Keep practicing; practice makes perfect!
You can use breathing techniques or self-talk (challenging your unhelpful thoughts and repeating more realistic thoughts) to get you through these times. We call this re-framing your thoughts, looking at what is fact and what is opinion and choosing different thoughts. It is also good to understand what is inside or outside your control; some things we can't control however we use up energy and time ruminating on them.
If you normally depend on 'safety behaviours' to help you cope, then list them in order of importance, then start by dropping or not doing the least important, and gradually work your way up over time. Safety behaviours are things we develop when we feel threatened or in danger. Examples might be stopping going out/talking to people, constantly checking things, repeatedly asking for reassurance, avoidance.
Here are a few more tips to help you along your way.
STOPP! Pause, take a breath, don't react automatically. Ask yourself:
What am I reacting to?
Is what I am reacting to fact or fiction?
What is it that I think is going to happen here?
What's the worst (and best) that could happen? What's most likely to happen?
Am I getting things out of proportion?
How important is this really? How important will it be in one week, one month or 6 months’ time?
Am I overestimating the danger?
Am I underestimating my ability to cope?
Am I mind-reading what others might be thinking?
Do I believe I can predict the future?
Is there another way of looking at this? Is this fact or opinion?
What advice would I give someone else in this situation?
Am I putting more pressure on myself?
Just because I feel bad, doesn't mean things really are bad.
What do I want or need from this person or situation? What do they want or need from me? Is there a compromise?
What would be the consequences of responding the way I usually do?
Is there another way of dealing with this? What would be the most helpful and effective action to take? (for me, for the situation, for others)
Hope the tips help. If you continue to struggle, ask for help. Book an initial consultation with me to find out how I can help.
Much Love Jo xxxx