Anxiety is a horrible feeling that leaves us feeling powerless and unable to sometimes even do the simplest of tasks like even getting out of bed. At some stage in our life we will all encounter some form of Anxiety unfortunately some of us have to face it on a regular basis.
Before I went on a journey of self-discovery I was of the belief that anxiety was an imbalance in my brain and the only way to resolve it was to take medication & get therapy, now while this will work to an extent unless you get to the root cause and fix that the medication and therapy can only do so much.
So, what exactly is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of fear or worry about a situation or a task that we are being faced with. Depending on the severity of your anxiety you can also suffer from physical symptoms such as your heart racing, palms sweating it can completely overwhelmed you. Anxiety originates as thoughts based on belief’s we have developed. Our brains are very complex when it comes to processing thoughts and feelings. Essentially they are all the same thing. Feelings, fears, belief's all stem from a single thought that either manifests itself into belief or a fear as we grow. Our brain does not differentiate whether that belief or fear is real but in order to protect us it creates physical symptoms and self doubt as a warning to try prevent us from doing something it perceives to be harmful. The task may not be harmful to us in any way but because our brain has had no practice in the situation it flags it as being a danger for us.
For example as a small child we are thought how to cross the road in a way that reduces our risk of getting hit by a car. This is something we have practiced everyday since we were small children. So much so that it is something we now do automatically with out even thinking about it. The reality is still that every time you cross the road there is a chance of you getting hit by a vehicle and being seriously hurt. But for the most part this is something that we can all do without experiencing any feelings of fear.
Tips to manage your Anxiety
I am not believer in taking medication I believe that while it might help in the short term there is always a counter-reaction. But this blog is being written from my own personal opinion and if you do need medication to help you cope then most certainly take it and keep taking it I am in no way advising against it it is just not for me personally. I found the best way to deal with my anxiety was to challenge it. This is not an easy task to do it takes lots of Time, Persistence and Practice. I have put together below strategies that I use when I am faced with a situation or task that sets off my anxiety.
1: Evaluate. Anxiety is fear, fear of something we think will happen. When your brain goes into over drive and starts to play out every worst possible scenario and conversation that might occur if you part take in the event. Write down exactly how you are feeling, detail the fear that you are dealing with. Try to keep track of these events in a diary so you can look back and evaluate what the fears you had were and the record the actual outcome you had. You will start to see how we overestimate and falsely predict negative outcomes. I have yet to see any of my predicted irrational situation's occurring. I now even laugh at most of them because the reality was so far from the truth but at the time i did genuinely believe it was possible.
2: Create a Plan. You are the only person who knows exactly what sets off your anxiety, we all have different triggers. When you are feeling calm and are not immediately faced with something that will trigger it, is the time to sit down and work out a plan on how you can deal with the situation should it occur in future without letting your anxiety prevent you from taking part. A solution-focused approach will help you focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. Think about how you have been able to cope with difficulties in the past by asking yourself questions such as “How have I managed to carry on?” or “How have I managed to prevent things from becoming worse?” This also something you can ask a close friend or relative to help with. Discuss your plan with them and ask them to support if should the situation arise and you feel unable to cope. Even just knowing that you have someone to rely on will make you feel calmer.
3: Breathe. When our mind starts racing and creating that end of the world scenario. Learn how to calm your body through slow, intentional belly-breathing. Belly-breathing is free, and easy to do and can be done anywhere. Here's what to do:
Sit with your eyes closed and turn your attention to your breathing. Breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control your breath.
Be aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. Place one hand on your belly, and the other on your chest. Take a deep breath for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of three. Exhale for a count of four. The hand on your belly should go in as you inhale, and move out as you exhale.
Concentrate on your breath and forget everything else. Your mind will be very busy, and you may even feel that the meditation is making your mind busier, but the reality is you're just becoming more aware of how busy your mind is.
Resist the temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, and focus on the sensation of the breath. If you discover that your mind has wandered and is following your thoughts, immediately return it to the breath.
Repeat this as many times as necessary until your mind settles on the breath. Don't wait to begin belly-breathing. The sooner you make this a daily habit, the quicker you'll feel relaxed.
4:Review your budget. One of the many things I used to always worry about was having the money to pay for things. This for me stemmed from being very care free with money in my early twenties and never actually budgeting for anything just living in the moment. As I got older I had more responsibilities to take care of and had to make sure I could afford to support myself, plus I was sick of endless sleepless nights worrying about where the money would come from. I created a budget for myself and opened a second bank account specifically for my wages the bank account I always used to pay bills I kept as a bill account. I wrote down every expense I had every month. I revaluated all my subscriptions some I forgot I was even paying, as I used to avoid looking at my accounts it only made me worry more. I totaled up everything and divided it by 4, I now had the amount I need to transfer every week from my wages to the bill account. I have being doing this for a few years now and every few months I go through and review it just to make sure I stay on top of it. I no longer have to worry if the money will be there to pay my bills as now it always is.
5: Have fun. Often when we are living with anxiety on a daily basis we feel stressed and are so focused on what might go wrong, we are actually forgetting to live and enjoy life. Allow yourself time to be silly and just live in the moment. If you feel like running barefoot through the garden do it, put on your favourite songs and dance like nobody is watching. Whatever it is you have stopped doing that was fun for you make a decision right now to start doing it again and stick to it.
These are the main changes I made in my life to ease my anxiety, yes I still have days where it creeps up on me but I cope with a lot better than before where I would hide away from the world. I would go to work and go home, I didn't see friends often or family I shut myself from everyone because I believed I was a failure and nobody wanted to be around me. I existed but I wasn't living and it has taken me years to get to where I am now but it was definitely worth it. Now I am happily married, I regularly see family and friends. I am working towards building my own business. I've even started showing my face on IG stories 😲. Now when I am faced with that dreaded feeling I ask myself "what's the worst that could happen?" and force myself to do it anyway. Guess what the worst never happens 🥰