Unsure how to cope with anxiety? Start with these 7 strategies
Anxiety is a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread caused by danger, misfortune, or uneasiness of the mind about something with an uncertain outcome.
We all experience anxiety in our lives, so rest assured you’re not alone. I bet you had a dry mouth, sweaty palms, a rumbling tummy and / or your heart pounding in your chest just before a job interview, a sport competition, an exam or a date.
Anxiety is a person’s natural reaction to stress and and it comes from fear. Fear of failure, of not being enough, of being ridiculed, of being rejected and the list can go on and on.
There isn’t anything wrong with anxiety per se but sometimes the apprehension continues after the concern has passed and it can escalate to generalised anxiety, panic disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; all very serious mental conditions.
I was born and raised in a loving but anxious family so I spent my life worrying about everything. Until my early 30’s I managed to “keep it together”. But when my first daughter was born, the anxiety escalated. Being responsible for another human being and - quite honestly - having no clue how to breastfeed, manage colics, bathe, take care of myself, made me feel completely lost. Without even realising it, I entered the post-natal depression department and it wasn’t fun. The level of anxiety, sadness, loneliness, separation, disconnection, anger, frustration I experienced in those months was deep and it profoundly changed me (for the good, of course!).
So here I am, sharing the 7 strategies which helped me to cope with anxiety, and still do to these days.
Strategy #1 - Move
Anxiety is a worry about an unknown outcome. Your mind builds all these negative thoughts with the intent to protect you. Moving your body is by far the simplest and I believe the most effective way to get out of your head and tune into your body. If you want to get out of your mental chatter you’ve got to get moving! Take a walk, do yoga, dance in your living room. Do anything which allows you to drop into your body and keep the monkey mind at bay.
Strategy #2 - Breathe
Take a moment to take a few long deep breaths. The breath is a potent tool you have at hand to change the chemicals into your body in a matter of minutes. And it’s 100% free. My favourite breathing technique is Nadi Shodhana Pranayama. Don’t let the sanskrit name intimidate you. This is a simple breathing exercise that can ground you and bring you back to centre. After you’re done reading this blog post, check my tutorial video to learn more about this breathing technique.
Strategy #3 - Be mindful
Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment deliberately without judging the experience. By bringing your mind back to the here and now, over and over again, almost like training a puppy, you soon start to rediscover a sense of peace and enjoyment of life. By paying more attention to the present moment you leave your mind less space to worry about the future. I'll share more on how to bring more mindfulness into your life in the upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned!
Strategy #4 - Daily rituals
Rituals are a concept as old as humanity, with the earliest known rituals dating back some seventy thousand years. Rituals connect you to your needs and desires, to others, to earth, to your curiosity around who you are and what you’re doing here. Find moments in your day where you can transform simple actions into rituals. Maybe it’s the way you make your coffee in the morning or a simple bedtime routine. Make those moments magical, transform a daily task into an opportunity to connect with yourself.
Strategy #5 - Write it down
Journalling is a great way to explore your feelings, review life experiences and it provides you with some health/stress benefits - such as reducing your heart rate, increasing serotonin flow and decreasing stress responses. When you feel any kind of emotional discomfort, before reaching out to the chocolate or wine, take pen and paper instead and start writing. Write everything that comes to mind down into the page, without editing yourself. Feel the relief of having offloaded those thoughts and emotions out of your system. Once they’re on paper they don’t belong to you anymore - or at least, I like to believe so.
Strategy #6 - Talk to a trusted friend
Find the courage to talk about your anxiety. Having a trusted friend you can talk things through, can both offer you a different point of view and give you the emotional support you need. Asking for help can be difficult, but it’s a great way to process your emotions while establishing a beautiful, authentic connection with another human being.
Strategy #7 - Flip the script
In certain situations you can flip your mental script by replacing the words “I’m anxious” with “I’m excited”. This simple trick will shift you from a threat to an opportunity mentality. Anxiety and excitement have more in common than you think. They’re both aroused emotions, they make your heartbeat faster, your cortisol level surge and they prepare you for action. Scientific research shows that people who flipped their mental script with these 3 words did still experience the fear but improved their overall experience and performance.
Here you go! I hope these strategies will help you!
Now, it's time to take action. What's the strategy you're willing to try out? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Until next time…
Be WILD, be YOU.