Everyone gets anxious, even me! Sometimes we can feel just a little bit worried or nervous and at the other extreme some of us suffer with anxiety or panic attacks and worries and anxieties completely take over lives and prevent us from doing some every day tasks.
Here are some techniques for you to think about and have a go at to try to reduce and contain your anxieties.
Take some deep breaths
When we feel anxious there tends to be many physically reactions such as a quickening heartbeat, shortness in breaths, sweaty palms, headache, nausea, jelly knees, just to name a few and then there is what I call “spaghetti junction” in your mind, not being able to have any clear thoughts just a mix of thoughts going around all at the same time. One of the best ways to try to gain some control on all of this is to take some slow “belly breaths”. Belly breaths require you to breath in through your nose and out through you mouth very slowly. When you inhale try to keep your chest as still as possible and imagine you breath going all the way into your belly and filling it like you would a balloon. By doing this I want you to fill your belly with air, pushing our your belly as much as possible, and then when you exhale you would effectively be emptying you belly of the air and deflating your belly as you do this.
The best place to practice this is lying flat on your bed and once practised enough you will be able to do this anywhere and in a discrete way but still being effective to you.
Whether this be a diary or scribbes on a piece of paper or a note on your phone/laptop/ipad it is always good to write things down. I always encourage my clients to keep a diary or journal. Now I make this very clear that this diary is not for me it is for them. To be able to empty their mind in between sessions helps to contain things and have some control over their thinking. Also when things are written down it is literally in black and white in front of them and makes things real and patterns become apparent. This technique is particularly good if you are struggling to fall asleep due to those thoughts and worries going around in your mind when the rest of the world is quiet and calm.
Distraction is a great technique to use, and different ways to distract can be used at different times. Here are some ways to distract yourself, you probably already do some of these maybe to relax or switch off after a hard day
*Watch your favourite tv programme or movie
*Try reading a good book, or magazine if you are struggling with your concentration, magazines only require small bursts of concentration and attention.
*If the weather is nice enough you could go for a walk (this combats two things at once; it is a good distraction, but also exercise releases our endorphins (aka the happy hormones))
* Mind games (naming a country/river/pudding etc with every letter of the alphabet, reciting poetry/music lyrics, counting back in 3’s from 1000, doing the 17 times table!)
* Listen to either some relaxing music, or your favourite band/artist and have a bit of a sing song or dance around the living room
* Pick up the phone and “phone a friend”, sometimes a problem shared is a problem halved
* Take up a creative hobby such as drawing, baking, arts and crafts etc, again these only require short bursts of attention if this is proving difficult, but is enough to distract you away from what your initial worries were.
Have things to look forward to
It is so important for us all to have things to look forward to. This doesn’t have to be the holiday of your dreams (although that would be nice!), but things planned for when you get home from work such as your favourite tea, or a movie to watch, phone call to a friend etc. Have some things planned at the weekend such as a day out, going to see a family member or friend, a nice walk in the park, or a lie in on Sunday morning. and then those bigger things to look forward to in a months time or so, such a holiday, mini break, long weekend off work etc. Having things to look forward to can help to refocus your mind and remember that there are positives in life, not just those BIG worries and looming anxieties.
Exercise is a really great and immediate way to manage anxiety. Whether this be a quick walk around the block, a bike ride, going for a swim, a run or to the gym, it really doesn’t matter. Exercise is definitely therapeutic for several reasons, firstly it is a good distraction, it helps to relax your body and your mind and it also releases the endorphins (the happy hormones). So next time you start to feel those worries and negative thoughts creeping in, put your shoes on and get out of the house!
Research suggests that what we eat has a direct link to how we feel. Eating chocolate may sound fabulous and a luxury, but if you know that after tasting that delicious chocolate you then have a crash after your sugar high then you maybe have to question is it worth it?
There are lots of foods that are more nutritious and healthy for us and by putting the good foods to feed our brains into our bodies, this definitely has a more positive effect on our mental health, particularly our anxious tendencies. Remember “healthy body healthy mind”!
Visualisation is a good way to distract your mind away from your anxieties, calm your thinking and any physical symptoms that are occurring. Sometimes is can be a good idea to have a visual aid, such as a picture from a holiday or a positive memorable experience to get you started. For others, practising going to you calm, safe, secure place when you are drifting off to sleep will get you in the habit and routine of being able to directly use visualisation when anxieties increase and stresses take over.
Self Talk or Mantra’s
Talking to yourself in a positive reinforcing way sounds easy to do but when your feeling anxious it is very difficult to recall thoise things that make you feel good. I suggest you write 3 or 4 positive things about yourself down (maybe int he back of your diary) and say them evither in your head or out loud. Here are some examples
* I will be okay, * I am a kind person, * I am a good mother/father/daughter/son/person, * I have felt like this before and got through it, * I am a strong person * I am loving and caring, * I will get through this
If you haven’t tried one of the suggestions above, give it a go – you never know it may really help!!!