The reality is most of us have all been there (more than we’d like to admit), where out of nowhere you find yourself suddenly caught up in a bit of a mental whirlwind. I have come up with a list of short term techniques that can be tried. However, I want to highlight an important note before you read on, which is what works for some people, may not work at all for others and vice versa. Anxiety affects everyone in different ways and so techniques for battling it can be very individual in nature. This below list may be of huge benefit to some while of zero benefit to others.
Daily Reminders of progress
For people who can suffer from anxiety, personal reminders of progress and developments can be crucial. Try having a ‘go to folder’ stored somewhere in your head that you can easily access any time you need a reassurance boost. If you don’t have one then work on creating one for yourself. This folder should be a collection of some key previous situations that stick out for you, where you challenged your anxiety and where you overcame it. They should be stand out moments in your head that you can easily count out on your hand or could list off in your sleep because you are that familiar with them. These act as fast-acting and effective personal reminders that you can get through whatever you are facing because you’ve done it before. They will help to shift any sudden anxieties that may otherwise become overpowering in seconds.
Follow motivational people/sites online
I find following motivational pages on instagram extremely useful. You can flick through them for a couple of minutes first thing when you wake up, over breakfast, over lunch, on the bus, or anywhere really. Obviously there are countless sites and blogs who share support stories and posts (a lot of which are really effective), that you can follow and read. Simply reading one quote or looking at one picture for a couple of seconds can alter your mindset or reinforce a certain positive thought for you for the rest of the day. Several of the anxiety support instagram profiles I have come across have thousands of followers and there are many out there. Two I would recommended would be: anxietysupport and anxiety support and love.
Take a step back
As simple as this sounds it can be one of the hardest things to actually do. Try and mentally take a minute to step back from what’s currently going on. The easiest way to explain it is to describe it as almost stepping out of your own head and looking at the scenario from the outside, as if you’re someone else observing the situation. Act as a third party and ask yourself questions as if you are asking someone else. Does this matter? How likely is this to actually happen? I like to refer to it as ‘having a word with yourself.’ As weird as it sounds it can really work.
Success banking is exactly what it says on the tin – banking your successes. The first step is to compile a list of your successes – things you view as personal successes, that challenged your anxiety. Think back to the time of each of these events, how they took up a lot of unwanted room in your brain, how they had each been a very big deal in your head. Focusing on one event at a time, remember how you got through it. Remember how you you felt whether it was frustrated, overwhelmed, weird (the list goes on) Then, let your mind wander back to how exactly you did it, how you pulled through with shining colours. This should alter your current feelings on your capabilities and again act as a booster. This reminds you, that you rule you, the anxiety doesn’t. As it is a quick short term technique you can do it anywhere and on the move by scribbling down the list on a rough piece of paper or jotting it down on your phone.
When you wake up in the morning one effective technique is to take several long deep breaths. A lot of people probably already do this. Before you do anything else in the morning straight away sit up at the side of your bed and try it. Deep breath in… hold it… deep breath out. I recommend 5 – 7 but as everyone is different you can really do what works best for you. This will help calm you before you’ve even left the house. Repeat the deep breath exercise as many times as you need to during your day. You can also do it pretty much anywhere, whether you’re at a desk, while you’re walking or wherever you are you can easily slip into a nearby bathroom for a few minutes. Just try to pause your mind, focus on the present moment, rationalise or “have a word with yourself” for reassurance and take a couple of deep breaths. Breathing is the most effective technique to calm your body down and in trying to retrieve some sort of inner calm but as many of us know it can be hard to breathe properly if you are feeling particularly anxious or suffering from chest pains or muscle tension. The only way to try and shift this is to continuously work on it – try to gradually get your breathing techniques to the best that they can be over time. For example, for the right attempt focus on trying to take one effective deep breath, with particular concentration on holding it for a few seconds and exhaling it all out.
This story was also featured on SpunOut.ie – http://spunout.ie/opinion/article/5-simple-tips-for-dealing-with-anxiety