Anxiety is a feeling of unease, nervousness or fear. Most of us will feel anxious at some time. If often has physical sensations that we label as anxiety. These include feeling tense, sick or a tightness in the chest.
As well as physical effects it can also affect our mental processess. It alters the way we think about things. When we feel anxious then the world can seem a very frightening, even scary place. Around every corner there is some pitfall or obsctacle which can knock us off kilter. We can spend much of our time thinking about the “worst case scenario” in every situation. This can lead us to alter our behaviour. We start to avoid people or situations which we feel contribute to our anxiety. Everything becomes a mountain we have to climb. Also, we check and double check our work in case we have made mistakes. Or we wake up in the night anticipating the activities of the next day, the “what if scenerio” and arise the next morning filled with dread about the day ahead.
Anxiety can also manifest in specific phobias, panic attacks as well as a more general feeling of anxiety.
So if you feel that any of these descriptions is you, what can you do to help?
Top Tips to alleviate anxiety:
Take a few deep breaths – Breathing deeply can help to settle the body into its natural equilibrium. Take a deep breath right down into the stomach. Then when you exhale, collapse the stomach completely. Do this a few times.
Do something positive. The actual activity is less important than the action of the activity itself. Washing the dishes, doing some gardening, anything that gets you up and occupied. Sitting thinking about your anxieties won’t make them go away and may indeed only serve to make them seem even bigger.
Focus on physical feeling
Sometimes focusing in on the physical feeling you have when you are anxious can be beneficial. Focus your attention on where the feeling of anxiousness is in your body and keep your attention there until the feeling moves or dissolves.For example the tension could be in your abdomen or your neck. Whenever your attention wanders, bring it back to the place in your body where the physical feeling is. Doing this for five or ten minutes can reduce, if not eliminate, the anxiety.
Talk about your anxiety
Talk about your anxiety. Talking about your anxiety with a friend or therapist can help to put your feelings in perspective. Is there anything you can do to lessen the anxiety? Can you take baby steps towards overcoming the particular situation that makes you anxious?
This is another good way to help stop your fears from overwhelming you. Gentle forms of exercise, such as walking and yoga can be more beneficial than a hard workout at the gym. Do what works best for you at the moment. Don’t worry if this is a break from your normal routine. The change may actually help reduce your anxiety.
Start a gratitude journal. Each night write down three to five things that you are grateful for. Aim to do this every day. This helps you to become aware of all the good that surrounds you. When we are anxious it is all too easy to only focus on the bad things and ignore the good things that happen to us.
Anxiety is a normal emotion
It is natural for us to feel anxious from time to time. Just as sometimes we feel angry, sad or happy. So sometimes we feel anxious. Just like those other emotions anxiety will pass.
If you find that none of the tips above work and/or your anxiety is long term and is profoundly affecting your day to day life then please seek help from a qualified therapist and medical practitioner. Choose to take control of your life and don’t let your fears run you.