Anxiety can be a scary and lonely experience. It can cause you to feel trapped and in a state of panic. It has been something which has been on the rise since the beginning of the COVID 19 outbreak due to the sudden changes and restrictions as well as risk to life. Anxiety might seem a new feeling to you or you may have been experiencing it for sometime. You may feel physical reactions to the anxiety such as, dizziness, increased heart rate, lightheaded and general feelings of low mood. When in this state, it seems impossible to bring your self back round to your usual way of thinking and feeling. So how can you make these reactions easier to bear and get rid of your anxiety?
This blog post will:
Anxiety is a natural reaction inside of us, triggered by the subconscious mind to keep us alive. This means that unfortunately, we cannot completely get rid of it. A healthy level of anxiety is good for us and does keep us alive in survival situations or can help us to perform better in other circumstances.
Think back to the times when we were first on this planet, walking around minding our own business when we come across a large predator.
In order to have a chance of survival our bodies needed a defence mechanism. This is where the flight and fight response comes in (our subconscious mind). It pumps adrenaline through the body which makes the heart beat faster and pushes blood to the legs and arms to allow us to flight or run away. It shuts blood off from other parts of the body such as the digestive system and it causes use to be able to do things we may not normally be capable of doing.
This all sounds great for the men of that time but unfortunately, as we have developed as a species, this part of us has not. We therefore experience this reaction to times which our subconscious mind feels are a danger.
These fears may have been learnt by us from childhood and could be due to a number of factors including, environmental, up-bringing and learnt behaviour.
The subconscious keeps a bank of patterns and behaviours from our previous experiences and uses these when faced with new experiences and situations.
Top tip number 1: Knowledge
It is thought that the more we know about anxiety and its function within us, the more we can control it within our bodies. We should also get to know our own anxiety. So keeping an anxiety diary is good to find any patterns or triggers. They are sometimes there even when we feel they are not. If you do choose to read about anxiety to find out more, I suggested using the NHS website or another reputable website. In short, do not just google information!
Top tip number 2: Breathing
If you can learn a relaxing breathing technique it will allow the body to relax. I teach my clients deep belly breathing. As you breathe in through your nose you fill the belly with air and then as you continue the breath you fill the lungs with air. As you release the breath out of your mouth you empty the air form the lungs first and then deflate the stomach.
This not only gives you something else to focus on but activates the parasympathetic nervous system – that’s the part of the body which helps us to relax. Follow this link to watch my demonstration of this breath.
Top tip number 3: Affirmations
Chose two affirmations to repeat in your mind, even at times when you are not anxious. These should be affirmations which promote calmness in the body and give you the confidence to be in control. One of my favourites is: I am calm, I am confident, I am in control.
Top tip number 4: Diet and lifestyle
Believe it or not, the things we eat can have an impact on our anxiety. Eating too much sugar and having too much caffeine in our diets can activate the feelings of anxiety so the restriction of these can have an impact. If you like a drink or are a smoker, this can also influence anxiety. Finally, lack of sleep can cause us to feel more anxious so making sure you get your required hours is a must!
Top tip number 5: Favourite place
This is my favourite way to forget all about the anxiety and one which I use with all my clients. If you sit back and close your eyes, use your breathing technique and at the same time build up an image in your imagination of your favourite tranquil place this can help relaxation and encourage you to think about something other than the anxiety. This could be a place you have been to before or simply one made by your imagination. Examples are a favourite holiday destination, the beach or your garden.
Top tip number 6: Worry Chair
I have recently learnt about the ‘worry chair’ and love this idea! Those who experience anxiety are normally excessive worriers and so spend a lot of time with worries in their mind. The idea of the worry chair is that we train our brain to worry at certain times ONLY. You should chose a chair in your home or workplace which you can only use for worrying. Each time you find that you start with worrying thoughts you should go and sit in the worry chair and allow the worries to come. Once the worrying stops you can carry on with your activities and when the worrying returns you go back to the worry chair. As you can imagine, the journey to the chair and back can become monotonous and so you begin to restrict the worrying thoughts and take control! You might be able to see how this can get rid of anxiety for some people.
In this blog post I have shared some tried and tested ideas which help to ‘get rid’ of those feelings of anxiety. The important thing to remember is that you can be in control of your mind and your body’s reaction in times of anxiety. The more you practise these top tips the more you will find that you can be in control and so the new patterns of behaviour will set in.
If you have any tips, no matter how big or small, please share them here. I always find that it’s great to learn from each other.